July 11, 2023 by Dymphna

T-Bomb: Wait, what if this is a dumb idea?

Truth Bomb Tuesday: My strategy for when doubt creeps in.

“Wait, what if this is a dumb idea?”

That was me a couple of years ago. I was in a meeting with my team and we were developing a new offering.

It was a new direction for us, but it felt good. When I had talked to people about it, they seemed to like it. Students seemed to be excited about it. And it didn’t look like it was going to be crazy expensive to build, so it seemed like it should fly.

But it was still a new thing for us. I hadn’t done anything like this before, and I was sure that there were some unknown unknowns lurking out there somewhere.

Doubt set in. Not about any aspect of the project in particular. Just about the whole project altogether.

“Wait, what is this is a dumb idea?

“What is this just isn’t going to fly? What if we get halfway down the runway and realise we’re strapped in to a flammable carboard box with ironing boards for wheels?” 

I didn’t think that was the case. The plane appeared sky-worthy to me. But I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe in a few weeks I would just look like an idiot with burnt straw in my hair, picking myself out of the wreckage.

I think this is probably a pretty common reaction. Whenever you’re fresh into a new field of endeavour, you will have moments of doubt. You’ll have specific doubts (can we really get the reno’s done for that budget?) but there will also be generalised doubts (maybe this just isn’t going to work at all.)

I see it with my students all the time.

And my usual go-to antidote wasn’t available to me. The best antidote is to surround yourself with people who have done what you are trying to do.

If you don’t know if you’re one into two townhouse development is going to make money, talk to someone who has done twenty of them. That quickly puts that doubt to bed.

But because I was in a new project, I didn’t have anyone I could go to. I’ve got smart people on my team, and I trust their business acumen and instinct, but they hadn’t done anything like this either.

So what I did is that I let myself meditate on the worst case scenario.

And what I saw was that even if the project flopped, it positioned me well.

I might not make money, but I would learn something. I would have valuable experience. And it would position me well in a field I wanted to get more active in.

That made me feel ok. I didn’t have a lot of money on the line, and even if it didn’t fly, I’d still get a lot of value out of taking the journey.

And I think as new investors we can take a similar approach. We want to make sure we’re not gambling too much of our nest egg, but if the downside is contained, we can look to the experience we’ll gain, and the journey that we’re setting ourselves on.

Recognising that we’re on a journey we want to be on helps with that generalised doubt I find.

(Although yeah, if you have access to an expert (throw a rock at one of our super-conferences), that’s always your best bet.)