On the sustainability of personal effort

by Jason on November 22, 2011 · 0 comments

Redwoods by Jared

Newsflash: nothing you do yourself is sustainable.

At least not forever.  Even allowing for some pretty cool medical breakthroughs, whatever you’re doing now isn’t going to be possible for you to do in 150 years.  For other efforts, a time scale is a big help.

Because just about everything is sustainable, at least for a short enough period of time.  And sometimes a short period is all you need: late night deadline crunches, big pushes in the week before a launch, and so on.  As long as you factor in some downtime for when it’s over, sprints like that are just part of the game.

It’s the never-ending sprints that are a problem, in business as well as most other things in life.  The most common area I see them in, and yes, feel them in, is the case where you haven’t yet built an organization to scale, and you’re doing everything yourself.  And usually that means everything.  Hell, even when you start to get a bit of leverage, those initial steps of delegation can take more work than just keeping on by your lonesome, which is why lots of people fall back to plan A and never make it further.

So: massive effort.  I’m a fan, as long as there’s an exit in mind.  Either the project has an end date or there’s a sequence that’s clearly laid out to pass the work on to other people (and/or automated systems) before the question of sustainability comes up.  Have that date, and that plan, firmly in mind before you start, and you might come out the other side relatively unscathed.

Neglect that plan, or ignore the fact that you’re missing the deadline, and you’re putting yourself in a position of increasing desperation as you try to keep things afloat with rapidly decreasing stamina.

Photo by jared

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