The difference between a good day and a good life is the ability to scale up the lucky moments and scale down the unlucky ones.
Fortunately, we’ve pretty much nailed the formula for luck. Unfortunately, it’s a lot more complicated than dumb luck. You just have to 👉 👉 👉 👉 👉 👉 👉 gotcha, kiddo! There’s no formula. It’s just a series of productive habits that add up to exponential return. That’s what this book is about: acquiring those habits.
Doing things without planning is like range shooting without a target. Sure, you might achieve something, whatever that may be. You might even do it well, because you’re skilled and all. But how would you improve if you can’t exactly explain to yourself what you did? How would you teach others to follow your footsteps if you can’t quite place your finger on it? Think about it!
A good plan involves doing your homework, understanding what needs doing and giving yourself a enough time for further research. There are those things you’ve done plenty of times before and got to do them well. Let’s call them the “known knowns”. Then you’ve got the things you didn’t do yet or you can’t do too well. They need extra work. We’ll call them “known unknowns”. Then there are the things that never bothered your mind that you might run into.
They might be big, they might be small, they might be easy, but they might also put a stop to your project altogether. Those are the “unknown unknowns”. In my personal subjective opinion, you should always start researching the unknown unknowns and fill in the blanks as you go.
The more ambitious the project, the more chances are it would fail because of unknown unknowns. And the faster you fail, the faster you learn. The upside is that you might enjoy learning and doing that step from scratch. You might even be good at it.
A good plan also involves taking notes and giving numbers and setting deadlines to the tasks. Why numbers? Because A might be equal to B, but doing A first and B second is different than doing B first and A second.
Doing things ordered in one way rather than another might yield different results. Not to mention those things that can only be done in a certain order. Why deadlines? Because your priority system might break from time to time. If you can’t estimate a deadline it means you haven’t done your homework properly and you should go back to square one. Setting deadlines is one of those “best” best incentives to get yourself to actually doing what you planned.
Considering you’ve done your homework and planned each step with a decent margin of error, implementing should be a piece of cake. Plain, simple, good old grunt work. This is where it all goes to hell for a lot of people.
Because expectation vs reality, because life happens, they realize that their beautiful plan can’t be implemented. And they go crazy. Their plan is wrong. Or something came up and ruined the plan. It’s never an option that they just pick up the eraser, scratch that and update it with what they’re actually doing. But in fact that’s the only option. It’s called adapting. No, I haven’t missed any steps.
Adapting is the one thing that our beautiful subconsciousness does better than our active minds. We adapt everything all the time. Can you hear your reading voice while you’re reading this sentence? You can, even though you know there’s no voice. It’s your mind adapting text into voice. How cool is your mind? Adapting works with or without a plan. Some people are really good at improvising. But as good as they are at adapting the plan to reality, they suck at planning. To be fair, they suck as much as the next guy.
The secret is to measure the difference between the initial plan and the adapted implementation. And of course, to update the plan. This simple secret will result in much better planning in the future. Better estimations, safer margins and a much better overall understanding of your project. That means better scalability.
So what exactly does scalability do for you? That’s an easy one: improvising works great on a fresh mind but works like crap when you’re tired. But if you have your own recipe book, you can “cook” while you’re sleeping. Being able to repeat a process you’ve previously planned and have seen through gives you an edge on pretty much most of the population.
You’re not only prepared, but you always know where you are and how long you’ve got until you finish. And you don’t have to remember, you don’t have to assume things. You can look them up in your notebook. You can teach others. You can put a price on it because you know how long it takes.
Does this work on new projects or just on matured ones? You tell me. So far I’ve only been getting better at planning and estimating. Better at understanding and preparing for the unknown unknowns. Better at channeling my energy to solve the things I never thought I’d ever run into. In one sentence: yes it does.