It’s incredibly hard to trace the success of any business, product, or project down to the skill of the founders. There’s plenty of correlation, but not much causation.
That’s a scary thought to a lot of people: What if my success isn’t based solely on my talent and hard work, but rather my lucky timing or stumbling across an under-served market by happenstance? What if I’m just a one-hit wonder!?
And I say, so what? So what if you are? I, for one, am completely at peace with the idea that Basecamp might very well be the best product I’ll ever be involved with. Or that Ruby on Rails might be the peak of my contributions to technology.
What about my life would be any different if I could truly trace down the success to personal traits of wonder? Even if I somehow did have a “magic touch” — and I very much believe that I don’t — why would I want to leave those ventures, just to prove that I could do it again?
Yet that siren song calls many a founder, entrepreneur, and star employee. The need to prove they’re not a one-hit wonder. That they’re really that good because they could do it again and again.
For every Elon Musk, there are undoubtedly thousands of people who left their one great idea to try again and fell flat on their faces, unable to go back to the shine and the heyday of that original success, and worse off for it in pride, blood, and treasure.
Life is short. Move on if you don’t love what you’re doing. But don’t ever leave a great thing just because you want to prove to others or yourself that you’re not a one-hit wonder.