What Does Your Project Want?
We start a project, or contemplate starting a project, because of something we want. Perhaps to make money, or improve our health, or bring something new into the world, or instill a new habit, or to learn something new.
There are many projects that we could do, many more than we’d ever possibly have time to do them all. We need to pick and choose.
We start with what we want. When contemplating a potential project a useful perspective is to then ask, what would the project want?
For example, suppose I’m considering a 30 day trial of a new diet because I want to find out if my health will improve on that diet.
The project is an experiment, a scientific experiment if you will. The goal is to change conditions (my diet) and see if changing those conditions produces a different result (my health). Like any scientific experiment, there’s a control, something to compare against: my current diet and my current health.
So what does a scientific experiment want?
A diligent experimentalist.
Someone who, for example, is going to actually follow the new diet for the time period of the experiment (30 days, or whatever it is).
“Well my health didn’t change but maybe that’s because I only followed the new diet two days out of three” is not the kind of experimentalist the project would want to have!
When I’m contemplating a project, I can consider whether I’d be willing to do for the project what it wants.
Am, I for example, willing and ready to be a diligent experimentalist, for a project that wants a diligent experimentalist?
Paul Graham observes that successful startup founders are relentlessly resourceful. He’s writing from the perspective of someone who invests in startups, looking for founders who are going to be successful. If I have an idea for a startup, I can turn this around and ask, “Is this startup idea so exciting for me that I’d be willing to be relentlessly resourceful for it?”
And it’s OK if the answer is “no”. In fact, it’s good if the answer is “no”. There are many things I could do. If I’m not actually excited, invested, have a great enough desire to do for the project what the project would want… better not to waste my time making a mediocre job of it! Do something else, where I actually do want to invest in what the project wants.
Asking what a project would want is also useful to identify opportunities where I perhaps don’t personally have to provide everything the project wants by myself.
If the project wants money to be successful, for example, providing the project with money myself might be the simplest, most expedient solution.
Or, perhaps, doing a fundraiser might be a possibility. Just because the project needs money doesn’t necessarily mean that I have to provide all the money myself.
Similarly for an investment of time or determination or problem solving. Do I myself need to do all the tasks the project wants, or could other people help out?
Finding an accountability partner, for example, would be a way to get help being a diligent experimentalist
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