Don’t anticipate, create alternatives

What do you do when you’re waiting for an important piece of information to arrive?

For example, you might have just pitched an investor and are waiting for their investment decision.

Or you might have just asked a friend to introduce you to someone and are waiting for their introduction.

Or you might have just applied to college and are waiting for the admissions decision.

In each of these cases, if you’re relying on just one person or organization’s decision, you’re in for a long and anxious wait. Since there’s a single point of failure, if that person or organization says no, you’re left in the open. And since you want to avoid this outcome, you begin to worry.

Rather than spend your time worrying, a better approach is to create alternatives. This shifts a single point of failure into multiple points and the more points you have the less likely that every one of them will fail.

Pitch other investors for funding. Ask other friends to make the introduction. Apply to other colleges.

The option to create alternatives rather than anticipate a single important piece of information isn’t always available. For example, a family member might be in the emergency room. In that case, there’s nothing you can do but wait. You can’t have the same family member receive treatment at different emergency rooms with the hope that one of them improves her condition.

But in most cases, you can create alternatives. And that’s a much better use of your time than anticipating a single point of failure.


Also published on Medium.