Why shoot for the Moon when Milton Keynes will do just as well

I once enjoyed a talk from Stuart Moore, the co-founder of Sapient.  It was a talk about, among other things, aspirations.  It was only to half a dozen people or so, and was fluid and interactive.

In it, he drew up a chart on a whiteboard, asking whether should aim high or aim realistically.  I responded, taking something of a devil’s advocate stance, that in some instances you should aim realistically.  (Remember, this is a man worth nine, possibly ten digit dollars, excluding decimals.)

I gave my reasoning.  In some instances, if you believe too much in your own hype, then that rosy view view will cloud your perspective, and you may remortgage your house a few times to chase what amounts to a dud business idea.  In that instance, it would be much better to chase reality, and if you failed, you wouldn’t have lost quite so much.  He struggled to deal with the example, instead arguing that if you shot for the Moon, at least if you missed you’d end up in the stars.

The attitude I portrayed is in keeping with me as an individual.  I’m risk-averse, although I can have optimism in abundance when the mood strikes.  I tend not to shoot for the moon, which will always hold me back while at the same time keeping me steady.  I guess that’s just the way my cloth’s cut.  And a reason why my bank balance doesn’t have nine digits—with or without the decimals.


One Response to “Why shoot for the Moon when Milton Keynes will do just as well”

  1. slatfatf on March 19th, 2010 09:42

    See your happiness article and my response.

    We talk about risk (in very business like manner) but actually you are referring (IMHO) to fear and I think that this is aligned with self confidence. Don’t forget that for every guy who takes risks that result in big bank balances there are stacks who try and don’t succeed. But most do not take these risks for the outcomes, they take it because they enjoy the journey. Whether they succeed or fail, most will try again. They are not afraid of losing and the losses do not outweigh the personal loss faced by not trying.

    I know you are not in permanent employment buy a contractor. So you have taken some ‘risks’ but you have self confidence in your abilities and ability to stay in contract at good rates. So you take more risks that others. So what stops you going all the way? Fear of failure.

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