Last Thursday, four of the owners of the island converged there to tackle the biggest task so far: build the yurt. Things started going poorly even before we got there.
Brian came down with a sinus infection and a 103 degree fever. He is the physically strongest of our foursome and also probably the most knowledgeable with construction. And even if he wasn't, we needed four people to complete the project. Bailing on the trip wasn't an option, so he rested for two days and came late.
Once we got there, a forklift at the storage place broke, making it impossible for us to pick up the yurt materials until Saturday. We were leaving on Monday.
Many other bad things happened. A 16' long rafter fell and hit Lisa on the head. Our boat stopped working. Two Home Depots were each out of one critical piece for the scaffolding. The mosquitoes were the worst they've ever been there.
At each point in this crazy process, though, it was clear that it was still possible for us to complete the yurt. Not easy, but possible. Maybe we'd have to work a sixteen hour day, as we did on Saturday. Maybe we'd have to improvise. Maybe we'd only be able to get off the island for one meal as we did on Sunday.
Despite setbacks, frustrations, and so many mosquitoes that each of us accidentally ate some, no one ever brought up the possibility of failure. It wasn't even an elephant in the room-- we just never thought about it. As long as it wasn't clearly impossible that we would fail, we assumed that we would succeed, and continued to push along that path as hard as we could.
Just before we absolutely had to leave, I put the final screws into the roof. We successfully put up the yurt. What would have happened if we allowed doubt to creep into our minds? Would we have worked so hard? Would we have actually finished?
This is the only way to get really monumental tasks done. Take the time to rationally assess what it's going to take to get the task done. Decide whether or not you can do it. Once you decide that it's possible, never revisit that question. You may fail, of course, but you may succeed. And like the yurt, it may have only been possible for you to succeed because you took the option of failure off the table.
Photo is an action shot of building the yurt. Didn't get any shots of it finished because I didn't have time. Next trip...
I'm currently on my Amtrak Residency! Can't wait to go from New York to Oakland, CA in a couple days. Will be writing about that in the near future.
T-Mobile made a huge announcement today. The awesome plan I wrote about before now treats Mexico and Canada just like the US. So you have full LTE in both countries, and can make calls to and from them no matter where in North America you are. Awesome! Now we'll have LTE at the island.
We were all excited about this most recent island trip. Brian, Elliot, and I would be flying together from Tokyo directly to Halifax, and would be joined there for a few days by Todd, and then by Ben for a couple days afterwards. It was to be the first island trip with no critical imminent deadlines. We would work and do projects, but at our own pace.
Of course, if we wanted to be warm, we'd need to prioritize the woodstove. This was our most off-season trip, and temperatures were scheduled to get down into the thirties. In reality, they hit around twenty degrees.
As soon as we landed, we went to pick up the rental car. The agent apologized that they had no full-sized cars, and that we'd have to take a minivan. All of us appreciate the robust utility of such a large vehicle, so we were excited about the swap. That excitement grew when we realized that every seat was heated.
We drove away from the airport, looking up where we could buy a wood stove on the way. We got there right before it closed, but managed to completely fill the minivan with the stove and a very complicated series of stovepipes.
You can't control definitively whether you'll succeed or fail, but you do get to set the parameters. The way I live my life, I will either be an big success or a huge failure. There are a variety of potential paths ahead of me, and zero of them lead to comfortable success or minor failure. None of them lead to numb mediocrity.
How do you adjust these parameters? You set goals and accept risks. If you set goals low and don't accept many risks, you have no chance of huge success or huge failure. You'll end up somewhere in the middle. Maybe you'll end up a bit better off than you expected, or a bit down on your luck, but you'll be somewhere in the range of "fine". On the other hand, you can set extremely high goals, leave yourself no reasonable plan B, and take massive risks to get those goals. It's the only way you'll even reach them, but you may fall short and crash.
In my case, I've put all of my eggs in the SETT basket. I hope it becomes a huge success that makes me a lot of money, gives me some power to improve conversation on the internet, and all that. At this point I've invested two years of my life into it, with no plans of changing that allocation going forward. I've passed up many smaller opportunities that could have made me money. I do have some money saved up, but it's hard to count it as a backup plan when I know with certainty that if SETT failed I'd use it to start another company and go all in.
I work as smart as I can, I live frugally, and I plan for contingencies-- I'm not reckless, but when a calculated risk presents itself, I'm all over it.