Delivering and Quitting

Sometimes I get confused. When this happens it can take a good smack to the ego to straighten me out. Ego or pride is the primary problem with knowing when to deliver and when to quit. Here are three points I remembered recently.

First, “Quitters never win” is completely false. Truth is it depends on what the ROI looks like over time. Truth is you win if you know when to quit. Don’t believe me. Think about all the losers that didn’t quit real estate before the bubble burst. This does not mean that winners always quit, but that would be closer to actual observable results. Ask any good poker player – one that earns more money than she loses – when you should quit betting on a hand. “Don’t throw good money after bad.” Now that is much better advise.

Second, good ideas are not that uncommon. Just because something is a good idea, doesn’t mean it is a good idea for you to commit to it. You have had great ideas, probably several. Everyone has. You may have even seen others implement your idea, and make a nice chunk of change on it. So what? Ideas are cheap. Ideas are worthless until they have been transformed into something that can be sold. So here is the formula for financial success of an idea. Add up all the income that selling your idea will earn you then subtract all the expenses of getting it there – this includes income you will miss out on from being busy (opportunity loss) – the total is your return. When is the ROI for your idea greater than zero? For how long? When is the right time to quit your idea? Estimate. Model. Use other peoples data. Past performance certainly may not be any indicator of future performance but it can be close enough and doing the same thing (under the same circumstances) expecting different results is insane. Repeat analysis for emotional gains, desire, etc., in place of income.

Third and finally, deliver a result not an idea – those are for babbling about on blogs. To make the most gain over time you need to see the future. Impossible, so forget it. If you pick the one thing you are sure will give you the most gain today and deliver it you’ll do pretty good. Tomorrow you may have to cut your losses, because long term strategy is never going to be anything more than an educated guess or a gut feeling. Basically what I am saying is I believe that choosing the locally optimal action today is superior to trying to define a globally optimal plan because there is no way to predict the future, however I do account for long term strategy in each days plan of action by assuming that most of the days in the future will more or less look a lot like most of the days in the past.

My wife pointed out to me on Monday that I had forgotten these three important concepts as demonstrated by my attachment to a “great idea” that has nothing to do with delivering my best result for the day. I’m grateful for the reminder even with the bruised ego.


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