Brick By Boring Brick
The Daily Stoic for June 8th. “Brick By Boring Brick”.
“You must build up your life action by action, and be content if each one achieves its goal as far as possible—and no one can keep you from this. But there will be some external obstacle! Perhaps, but no obstacle to acting with justice, self-control, and wisdom. But what if some other area of my action is thwarted? Well, gladly accept the obstacle for what it is and shift your attention to what is given, and another action will immediately take its place, one that better fits the life you are building.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 8.32
“divide et impera” (divide and rule). This quote is usually associated with the military victories of Julius Caesar but, in fact, is attributed to Phillip II of Macedon. It has been successfully applied to many disciplined and still is in areas as current as politics or Computer Science Engineering.
And that’s because it’s obviously true. When confronted with a big or very complex problem, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. That affects our trust in our ability to solve that problem.
What the “divide and rule” strategy suggests is splitting a big challenge into a set of smaller problems, and repeat this operation until the problems are so small that they can be easily solved. Then, we need to focus on one, and only one of these small problems. And only continue with the next one when we have solved the first one.
Brick By Boring Brick
We tend to see things as discrete, big events. That’s how our brains work.
“Have you heard of this startup, they raised $100M?”
“Have you heard of this guy? He launched this online business and he’s doing 20.000€ a month”.
While some days ago I wrote that you need to fail fast and quickly detect when a business is not working, the contrary is also true. Even when things are working, you need to work hard. Nothing is easy, especially starting a new business. And the best way of not throwing in the towel is being able to focus on the small things that will make your business reach the next little step.
Don’t try to solve everything at once or have everything ready right from the start.
Sometimes you will need to do things manually, or do things that don’t scale. You need to be ready to silence that perfectionist in you, and take care of what matters right here and right now.
We live in the world of instant gratification. All we hear is about these “Aha” moments, big ideas or flamboyant product launches. But the reality is that you need to get to that moment step by step, brick by boring brick.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Brick By Boring Brick”, discusses how in life, as in business, we tend to focus on the big events, or striking headlines, when in reality, things are built brick by boring brick.