When is something worth doing?
We all make judgements every day about how much time and energy to devote to a task, a project, or a relationship. How do we do that?
You may think you make these decision on a rational basis. You calculate the effort required and somehow figure out if the returns are worth it. Maybe we do this, maybe we don't - I'm not convinced either way. There's probably a sociology or behavioural economist out there who has an answer. But that's not me.
It seems to me though that to calculate the personal return on effort is a dangerous game.
At some level it may make sense; for example, spending 2 hours preparing for a client meeting is maybe better than spending 5 minutes - if it helps you win the deal. Or - setting clear objectives for your team, if it means they focus on what you need them to focus on for the next 3 months.
Most of the time, the thing is - it's just not obvious what the short, medium or long time payback will be of any use of your time. This is especially true in a start up company. The purpose of a start up company of course is to uncover a viable business model. There will be much trial and error, but some things will stick and others won't. If you judge your efforts versus their short term results, you could think you're not using your time wisely.
When viewed through the lens of hindsight, often it's those persistant repeated efforts that occasionally yield gold. Individually each footstep might be in the right direction, it might not.
The journey to the mountaintop requires that you walk and keep walking. Sure, be smart, learn from your mistakes, but to judge each day's effort versus the results of that day is burden yourself with inconsequencial analysis. The big picture is what matters.
Some of the most important steps forward in our lives, or for the life or a company are small decisions. Small efforts or events. That doesn't have to mean the rest is meaningless. To find a nugget of gold you might have to pan a river for 3 years. Each day is not a wasted effort - if eventually you find a big nugget.