S2E3 - Ideas, opportunities: How do I find my way?

The world is full of opportunities. But which opportunities should I pursue? Which ideas to realize? In my last episode I wrote, the way is the goal. But what to do when there are hundreds of ways, hundreds of possible ideas?

German version of this article / deutschsprachige Fassung.

First of all, we need to get rid of the belief that there is one right idea, one right way. There are numerous ideas and numerous ways you can go. It is a hindrance to wait for the one true right way to reveal itself. Many ways lead to Rome. The principle of equifinality applies in this case.

Equfinality explained: „Rather than assuming that there are unique, best-structured solutions for given levels of context, the equifinality approach recognises that multiple, equally effective alternatives may exist“ - Van de Ven & Drazin⁠1

Since there are many possible ways you can go, you should also look at a wide variety of topics at very early stages of your journey. Many people jump at the first idea that comes to mind. And that's usually not ideal. Paul Graham, one of the co-founders of Y Combinator, on this:

„If you're going to spend years working on something, you'd think it might be wise to spend at least a couple days considering different ideas, instead of going with the first that comes into your head. You'd think. But people don’t.“ - Paul Graham⁠2

In this respect, it makes sense to approach different ways in this early phase in an open-ended and exploratory way, keeping in mind:

There is no best way, only ways that fit you more or less.

In the context of this publication I would like to give you ways of thinking that will help you to find your way or ideas that fit you. When I think about different ways, possible future scenarios or new ideas, I use the following criteria to make a first selection, to filter out the opportunities I want to pursue further: Does the idea or way spark my interest? Does the idea or way align with my values and goals? What value can I provide through it? If the chosen way or idea should also support me financially: Will I be paid for it? What resources (e.g. time, money, skills) do I need for this idea or this way? A comparison of these different criteria then enables me to select the ways or ideas I want to explore. Detailed thoughts on the individual criteria will follow in the next episodes of this season.

1

Van de Ven, A. H., & Drazin, R. (1984). The Concept of Fit in Contingency Theory. Strategic Management Research Center.

2

Graham, P. (2005). Why smart people have bad ideas. PaulGraham.comhttp://paulgraham.com/bronze.html