Playing Safe

Oct 5, 2008

I was talking to another student about my quitting school. Here’s what she said about why she’s still in school – “education is the safest insurance plan”.

I understand where she’s coming from. And I’ve heard that statement so many times, especially when people ask me about why I quit school. But I don’t agree. The question is, why play it safe? As Seth Godin has said, in today’s world, ‘safe is risky”.

The semi-finals of the World 10-Ball Championship between Niels Feijen and Darren Appleton was a great example. Feijen consistently went for safety shots. Even when he could make the offensive shot, he chose to go down the safe path. And eventually, he lost out.

If you play not to lose, you won’t win. You won’t make the right decisions, and ultimately, you won’t come up on top. As the book “Sway” by Ori and Rom Brafman points out, fear of loss is one of the main reasons behind bad decisions. Kathy Sierra has talked about “death by risk aversion” as well.

If you want to be the best, you have to take risks. And why settle for anything less than the best?

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Maintaining a light grip

Apr 19, 2008

I’m finding more and more life lessons in pool. I think it’s because it’s very much a mental game. But I digress.

In pool, you need a light grip on the cue stick. Yes, the grip is very personal, but in general, any instructor or book will advise a light grip. I’m not sure the exact reason, but I think it’s to ensure that the cue stick follows its natural path when you stroke. If you grip it too tightly, it’s more likely that the cue stick will jerk and move off its natural path.

Sometimes in life, trying to have too much control isn’t good. Sometimes the more you try to force something, the worse it’ll go. It might be better to just lightly guide it, and let it take its course.

One prime example of this is in business/pr today, especially with social media. You can’t force the conversations. You can’t stop all negative reviews. If you try to, it’ll just make things worse. The best thing you can do is work on your brand, be a part of the conversations, and let the rest happen. Same for your personal brand.

Sometimes the most natural option is the best one.