At the beginning of any new idea, the possibilities can seem infinite, and that wide-open landscape of opportunity can become a prison of anxiety and self-doubt. This is a key reason why failing fast with low-risk prototypes is so helpful: If we haven't invested much in developing an idea, emotionally or in terms of time or resources, then we are more likely to be able to focus on what we can learn from that effort than on what we've lost in making it.
In Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, Peter Sims provides many examples of individuals and companies who have come up with successful ideas that originated as one of several mini-experiments. He also makes many arguments why investing in and then releasing a finished product can be less successful.
I love this particular quote because it captures how a new idea can be exciting but also overwhelming.
Deploying little bets reminds us that
- Having doubts and feeling anxious or having doubt is normal when we start something new.
- Baby steps, or little bets, are important.
- We can experiment and focus on learning.
I made this mini chevron scarf three years ago but included it here because it made a good companion for little bets. Using “little bits” of leftover yarn, I as trying out a new stitch with a small project. I’ve actually worn this mini scarf a lot. I tie it around my neck–right where my big down coat fails to keep me warm.
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