Making success controllable

In Tim Ferriss’s interview with Adam Grant, Adam asks Tim how he knows if something he did (a book he wrote, for example) was successful. Tim’s answer is fantastic:

I’ll tell you what I try to do and that is to select projects where I win even if it fails.

[…] I try to choose projects where I am heavily weighting two things: acquisition of new skills, and developing relationships with people.

Tim Ferriss

He goes onto talk about how external metrics of success (book sales, page views, podcast downloads) are out of his control. So he embeds the notion of “success” into the design of the project. If he acquires new skills and develops relationships with good people, then that’s a success no matter what.

That struck a heck of a chord with me, after having rambled about how growth is the thing I should pursue over anything else. Growth is controllable. I can choose to do the things that will help me grow. Even if they “fail” by whatever external measure, I still win.

Just look at this blog! I’ve been writing daily for months now. Almost no one reads it. But it helps me think and therefore helps me grow. Plus, I’ve gotten to know a few cool people who emailed me after reading a post.

That’s a victory no matter what the hit count says.


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