Turning ambition into success is hard enough as it is. Whether you’re taking time to work on a project on the side or you’re launching a full-time business, it’s going to require peak personal investment. Not in terms of working crazy hours, but of dedication and perseverance.
Why would you want to pour so much of yourself into anything less than your best idea? Other ideas might seem more achievable or convenient, but if your heart and mind is elsewhere it’s all for naught.
Whatever excuse you can come up with for why you’re settling for less is probably not good enough. It’s intensely draining to give up on your dreams and you’ll not look kindly back at yourself for treading water.
Are you working on your best idea right now?
Paul Campbellon 25 Mar 10
This is totally dependent on what “best idea” means … that’s why it’s so hard in the first place.
It’s a good point, but I prefer the attitude of going with “an” idea and THEN coming to a decision about what’s “best” ... often an idea that seems great at the start turns out to suck, and a sucky idea could turn out to be the best choice.
TJ Stankuson 25 Mar 10
I dunno… I’ve got several ideas that, to me, are worth developing. Since I’m new to business development I’m focusing on the simplest one first. It might not be my best one, but it feels right to start simple.
Michalon 25 Mar 10
Good question, it made me think… what I m doing right now!
Lance Ennenon 25 Mar 10
I enjoyed this post, plus your talk on this This week in Start Ups. Your comments have made me think twice about my current work. Thanks.
Riccoon 25 Mar 10
I’m doing all I can to get lots of tedious stuff I already committed to out of the way so I can get started on my best idea.
Sergei Kozlovon 25 Mar 10
Just a remark: if we define “the best idea” as “where your heart and mind is”, then it is probably prone to fluctuations. The more creative a person is, the more great ideas are popping up in their head, and the wishes may (or may not) follow. Not sure if you take this into account in your personal case, but not following where your heart and mind is today, is as bad idea as not following that at all.
Sandeep Shettyon 25 Mar 10
Reminded me of Seth Godin’s “The Dip”.
Care to define “best idea”? From your description (“Other ideas might seem more achievable or convenient”) it seemed like “the best idea” is harder to achieve.
jonniion 25 Mar 10
I’m not working on my ‘best idea’ because I don’t have the resources to execute it yet. However, that doesn’t stop me on working on my other ideas which hopefully will get me one step closer to having the funds to realize my other projects.
Scotton 25 Mar 10
I think “Best” means that it’s the idea that is most significant to you and that you’re willing to commit to. Not the idea that sounds easy but you have a hard time putting your heart into.
Anonymous Cowardon 25 Mar 10
So fun to read everyone’s excuses as to why they aren’t working on their best idea. No wonder.
paink1lleron 25 Mar 10
So my best !dea requires manufacturing a device and I’m 17 years old and sure as hell I don’t want to take money from anyone…
So starting with the heart of the device I got the software working and now how can I proceed eh?
Danielon 25 Mar 10
What’s my best idea? I have some ideas that will bring a lot of money… but I’m not really passionate about these ideas… I do what I love most… profit is consequence!! That’s my best idea
Leeon 25 Mar 10
I’m too busy making excuses and adding them to svn to get started.
James Son 25 Mar 10
I don’t know about best, but it’s something. :)
Christianon 25 Mar 10
Thanks for reminding. Honestly.
jake nickellon 25 Mar 10
i like my ideas like i like my breakfast. i need sausage, eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, toast, pancakes, french toast, waffles. none of them are best. i need variety.
Aaron Mon 25 Mar 10
I think sticking to a particular idea is important as well, rather than working on a couple different ones at once. It can take your focus away, and will take longer to produce a product, and chances are it won’t be as good, as other side projects have been distracting you.
TKon 25 Mar 10
Before you start on a project, it is incredibly important to think through why you think the idea is good and why it is viable in the market.
Otherwise, having that naggy feeling of “oh gosh, I don’t know if this is going to work, I can’t wait to get this out so I can work on my awesome idea” is pretty much the worst place to be.
Guy at HockeyBias dot comon 25 Mar 10
I agree with Scott.
Mark Holtonon 25 Mar 10
This message hits me as if you’re talking directly to me. Some of the advice on SvN is geared towards the entrepreneur who is already somewhat there. This advice hits me as direct answer to a question I’ve had. Please keep advice like this flowing—for the budding/bootstrapping/side-work entrepreneur. This greatly helps in focusing and decreasing uncertainty. Most appreciated!
Ryanon 25 Mar 10
My takeaway from Jason C.’s interview with David was “If you’re not working on your best idea, you’re doing it wrong.”
Sachinon 25 Mar 10
thought provoking…but i think i am doing the right thing now
Terry Suttonon 25 Mar 10
That’s what I love about SvN: I can never decide if you’re full of crap, or I if I just don’t have the chutzpah.
Caleb Cushing ( xenoterracide )on 25 Mar 10
I disagree with you, not based on this article alone, but after watching you on TWiST. You should work on your ‘best’ idea. But sometimes we have great idea’s that won’t be profitable. You should work on your best idea that could be most profitable, then later when you don’t need it work on your idea’s that will be less profitable, or not profitable, but still need doing.
(I did agree with most of what you said though)
Benon 25 Mar 10
If you’re not working on your best idea at any point in time, then you’re basically SETTLING for a sub-optimal, sub-par choice based on various excuses, e.g. “I don’t have enough time” or “I don’t have enough money” or “I don’t have enough such-and-such”. DHH’s recent posts, presumably stemming from his debate with the mahalo guy, have affected me deeply in his core message: pursue excellence. if you’re pursuing excellence, nothing else matters, and you will LOVE your work and would easily say “fuck that” to any buyout offers.
pliebon 25 Mar 10
threading -> treading
Kee-Wonon 25 Mar 10
I like to interpret this as ‘work where your passion is’. I spent a couple years working on great ideas but wishing I was working on videogames; now that I am working on videogames, I find I get more accomplished without feeling burnt out or losing passion. I think that’s my definition of working on my ‘best idea.’
gothyon 25 Mar 10
Too much ideas (15 currently on tada list) and one is in beta stage. Best… don’t know, i can criticize any of them to death, none of them not letting me sleep for weeks :( But some of them excited me for a day or two, while I was thinking of them and looked from different sides. Hope my best idea is still waiting for me somewhere in the nearest future :)
Tedon 25 Mar 10
Do you think this is true for someone with young children? At that point, if “best” requires some risk, then it’s not just you who may pay any negative consequences.
Jasonon 25 Mar 10
david – thanks for the great post, it was simple to the point, and inspired action!
Anthonyon 25 Mar 10
brookron 25 Mar 10
You get to decide which is “best”, at any given moment. If an idea isn’t compatible with your circumstances, it may only be a “favorite” idea, not the best one.
Work on your best idea, with no fear of the fickleness of your heart. If, after putting in some time and energy, you realize the idea is no longer your best, then you have done your job. You will not be wondering anymore.
I think many of us fear pursuing our best idea because if it doesn’t work out, we lose think we will lose our daydream. But really, our minds will venture further when we push the limits, and we will be better off for it.
Go, people! GO!
Mark Koberleinon 25 Mar 10
Focusing on trying to figure out what your “best idea” is because you want to optimize your time and only work on that is not always the best approach. Sometimes this can lead to procrastination and self doubt because you are not sure what your best idea is and you don’t want to waste your time working on anything else (which then causes you to waste time). There is value in starting on any idea that you have and working hard on it because often you get inspired while working and a better idea will present itself. Then you can choose to integrate that idea into what you are working on or drop what you are doing switch to the better idea.
Casperon 25 Mar 10
Kudos David, you’ve been on a roll lately!
Keep it coming, you’re an inspiration :)
Erik Dunganon 25 Mar 10
I guess my question is–what if you’ve been working on your best idea for 2 years and have a new, possibly better, idea? If the ideas don’t really overlap, do you drop what you’ve done? Do you try and do both and see which is better?
Nwokedion 25 Mar 10
@Ted, I think “best” is what’s best for your circumstances. If your idea has a significant potential to negative harm people close to you, it probably isn’t your “best” idea.
Jameson 25 Mar 10
I am working on my best idea. Hurray.
Jimmy Chanon 25 Mar 10
Remember also Master Jedi Yoda quotes in Star Wars:
“Do or Do Not There’s No Try”
Simon Whiteon 26 Mar 10
I took this to mean “best idea to you” not “idea that will make the most money.” If you can’t choose which of your ideas is the best to you, you need to do some soul searching, some meditating, until you do.
Often your best idea is the one that seems most improbable to succeed, the least safe. You may not even have it included on your list of ideas. But if that is where your heart is, if that is the one that will inspire you to keep going through great adversity, it may ironically be the one that has the best chance of success.
Markon 26 Mar 10
Good stuff, and in line with the basic concepts of the evils of multi-tasking espoused in the 37s repertoire.
Today’s concession becomes tomorrow’s concession becomes next month’s and next years, until you find yourself wondering how you got on the track you’re on and realize that nobody’s driving the train.
Raghavendra Kulkarnion 26 Mar 10
Can’t agree with this..One often starts with small idea & builds around that to formulate ideas from which best can be chosen..Little drops of water make an ocean. Regards, Raghavendra Kulkarni
Thomas Hansenon 26 Mar 10
@everyone in doubt here If you don’t understand or believe the importance of this advice, it’s you he’s talking to here … ;)
Claudiuon 26 Mar 10
Matthewon 26 Mar 10
I’m working on my best idea, thanks for encouraging me to keep at it.
I’ve kept up with TWiST from the beginning and the whole “Get VC funding then flip” mentality had permeated my thinking, now, after paying attention to your point of view and reading rework, I feel better about my solo ambition and building it up from humble beginnings.
Adam Zetton 26 Mar 10
Because less is more… won’t you agree?
The Real Joshon 26 Mar 10
So simply yet people settle all of the time. Some might argue that making some easy money is worth the time and effort and will lead to being able to focus more attention on those “good ideas.” I guess that can be true as long as seduction doesn’t draw you away from your main goal. Seems like a tight rope to walk.
Jaromír Adámekon 26 Mar 10
“Are you working on your best idea right now?”
I’m self-employer for 11 years and I NEVER knew which idea/business will work, before I tried it…
None know it.
Business is never ending process in which you prefering many small business which making you money and which you loving and others which NOT making money or you don’t like them simply dying itself…
Is one person who KNOW what to do, and this is YOUR CUSTOMER. The customers always told me what to do, the price and other things…
And one more thing, the best business (money+love) was always created from the my dumbest and simpliesr ideas :). So if you have some “excelent idea”, HAHA :) “ask the market…” :), simply try it, and you will see that it isn’t probably so “cool”...
Tom Mileson 27 Mar 10
To Jaromir – thanks for the reminder (to me, anyway) of the idea that “the best business (money+love) was always created from my dumbest and simplest ideas.”
My mind keeps telling me that if it’s that simple it’s already been done and no one would want it any way.
And the truth seems to be that it really is valuable, people do want it, and I just need to learn how to ask for some money for it somehow.
Matton 28 Mar 10
I’m not sure working on your best idea is the best idea. I think working on the idea that you love and care about is what is important. You are going to have great ideas all the time, what’s more important is to choose one you will love and just do it. Just make sure it is good idea and then make it your best idea.
Tom Cliffordon 28 Mar 10
Doing things differently is a hallmark of progress. When in High School and College, I was a gymnast; I threw a long horse vault that no one, to my knowledge, had thrown before or since; a hecht-somie. In the Gymnastics Code of Points, the way the vault is portrayed, it is impossible to perform. I didn’t look at that aspect; I did it. Sometimes you have to believe nievely you can do something – conventional wisdom should be ignored. It can make all the difference. I competed in the College Division Nationals in 1974 – I placed around 16th out of 32 or so competitors. When you do something different, it can make all the difference. Don’t pay attention to what everyone else does. Do your own thing. It CAN pay off.
This discussion is closed.