If you could think about the greatest lessons you learned, which ones would you choose? In the book “Tools of Titans”, Tim Ferriss collected a total of seventeen questions that dramatically changed his life. Though I’m not a big fan of the “4-Hour Everything” writer, I must admit that the book has some pretty interesting perspectives. During this blog post, I’ll tell you more about a specific question, but, if you want, feel free to click here and check them all. They’re definitely worth reading.
Welcome to the Jungle! Soundtrack here
Being a bit more serious, imagine a jungle in which we’re all lions competing for the best beef. If you were to choose, would you prefer to hunt the big, delicious antelope or would you just go for the field mice? That’s precisely the question Tim Ferris asks, while quoting a booked called “Buck Up, Suck Up… and Come Back When You Fool Up”, which was written by two of Bill Clinton’s strategist and advisors. Here’s an excerpt:
“A lion is fully capable of capturing, killing and eating a field mouse. But it turns out that the energy required to do so exceeds the caloric content of the mouse itself. So a lion that spent its day hunting and eating field mice would slowly starve to dead. A lion can’t live on field mice. A lion needs an antelope. Antelope are big animals. They take more speed and strength to capture and kill, and once killed, they provide a feast for the lion and her pride. A lion can live a long and happy life on a diet of antelope. The distinction is important. Are you spending all your time and exhausting all your energy catching field mice? In short term it might give you a nice, rewarding feeling. But in the long run, you’re going to die. So ask yourself at the end of the day, “Did I spend today chasing mice or hunting antelope?”
Transposing the metaphor to business, the quote stresses how important it is to make our decisions based on the impact they’ll have. Instead of building our way with small actions, we must go for the big antelope if we want to keep evolving and eventually succeed. Though I agree and understand that those big actions or decisions are the ones we’ll remember, I also think that if we build something only based on big actions, we’ll be constantly skipping the details. And skipping details won’t bring anything good.
Growing mice and how dangerous they can become
When we’re speaking of startups and fast-growing businesses, it is quite common to find digital structures that were built to support needs that appeared with the time. Actions were made as the time passed with no specific strategy or future orientation. Is that a problem? No, it’s good to make decisions. In fact, being adaptable is great and, in the initial stage of everything, it is completely natural to keep iterating and changing things.
When the priority is closing the next round of investment, everything that exists around becomes secondary. But once the goal is achieved, we often notice that the structure we built up until now is no longer strong enough to bear our next steps.
What’s the solution, then? Well, while I was speaking with Justin, he said something that made a lot of sense to me. Already heard of the Pareto Law?Instead of spending all your time hunting antelopes, invest only 80% of that time focused on the big actions. Use the rest 20% to capture the mice to grant that eventually, they won’t grow to the point where they’ll become your predator.