Why Just Fucking Do It is Just Fucking Stupid

If you spend some time in the startup scene, this is a central part of the pep talk you’ll hear.

Just Fucking Do It, man! JFDI!

And for conquering the initial fears it’s awesome.

It teaches you to put out an early, crappy prototype to get actual customer feedback – instead of wasting 2 years in “stealth mode”, only to find out that nobody wants the thing you’ve been working on.

It encourages you to conquer your fears of failure and to get into the game instead of watching from the sidelines. Learning by doing, not only by contemplating.

But once you get over that initial hurdle, once you have done your first prototypes and have viscerally felt how important it is to get feedback “in the real world” (and how much more motivating that is), I think it does more harm than good.

Why?

1. It kills your gut instincts

Once the prospect of failing doesn’t scare you that much anymore, doubts are a good thing.

They are what leads you to where your talents and the world’s needs intersect (the sweet spot for your work of purpose). If you’re working on something that’s not truly meaningful, your gut will tell you. You will find yourself asking “Is what I’m doing truly meaningful?”. And if you don’t have a good answer, the voice will not go silent. (Hint: If you’re developing the 15th social shopping app or still going to college, it’s usually right.)

JFDI in this case goes in favor of doing anyway, and trying to silence this voice. Which, if successful comes at the cost of feeling less alive.

That’s one of the reasons, by the way, why so many people today feel numb in a way. They’re not in touch with their deeper calling – which always has something to do with how you want to contribute to the world.

2. It’s ego-driven, not service-driven

Ego asks “does this make me look cool?”. Service asks “Is this actually benificial to society?”

Doing makes you look cooler. Thinking hard, questioning assumptions and struggling … not so much.

To change the world you usually need to challenge conventions. Conventions that are usually deeply ingrained in yourself as well. You can’t change this inner programming if you’re stuck in doing-mode all the time.

One of my favorite meditation-quotes fits very well: “Don’t just do something, sit.”

3. Following every idea you have makes you waste your time

JFDI in overdrive can sometimes lead you to trying to follow every project idea you’re having (or other people are having) – which you simply cannot do. You’re going to beat yourself up about not getting everything done, you’re going to be complaining about the day not having enough hours and you’re going to burn out your body by working too much.

And you’re going to feel frustrated because usually none of those projects will get off the ground because of the lacking compounding effect. If you work 40 hrs per week on one project, you’ll get 2-3x as much done than if you’re working on 2 projects at 20hrs per week each.

You’re wasting you’re time, because you’re not focused.

Also: Not all of your ideas are worth implementing. As Cal Newport describes in this really interesting article about highly productive academics, even top idea generators expect a disappointing hit rate of 1 great out of 6 mediocre ideas.

To sum it up:

In the beginning JFDI is awesome. You need to be “stupid” in the best sense of the word. You need to shut your brain off for a while and accomodate yourself to trying things out with the possibility of failure and make the experience that the world doesn’t end then.

But after you have incorporated that, you need to find (and if you listen to yourself you will find) the balance between contemplating the actual societal use of what you’re doing and trying things out mindlessly (again, in the best sense of the word).

It shouldn’t be JFDI. It should just be “failure is fine, get accustomed to trying things out, but once you’ve done that, regularly and deeply think about what and why you’re doing it”. But that’s maybe just not catchy enough…

What do you think? Where are you on the scale? Do you yet need to conquer your fear of failure (as I learned 3 years ago at the Pioneers of Change Social Entrepreneurship course) and how are you going to do it? Or are you already over the hurdle – and how did you do it?

(This is the article of day 10 of the 30 day blog challenge. To be notified of new posts, subscribe to the mailinglist on the right.)

Photocredit: langalex

1 Comment

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About

Hi, I'm Georg, founder of the social businesses soulbottles and soulwater.
In here I share my experiences and try to teach you what I wished I'd known earlier about changing the world for the better.

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