How often have you had to fall on your sword? You know what I mean—put your entire career and life on the line to get across (to sell-in some parlance) an idea, a thought, a campaign, a desire or a wish. Have you ever walked away from such a situation feeling like you should have? On the other hand, have you ever crawled away with that sword in your belly wondering why you bothered? Or worse, weeks later, have you felt the sword twist and turn in your gut as the “one and only possible way forward” you touted proved to be a dud?
The question is how do you judge? When do you take the risk and when do you walk away? When do you push and when do you back off? When do you declare victory and when do you acknowledge defeat? When do you grab the sword and when do assume the pacifist role?
I don’t know that there is an algorithm or a hard and fast and rule that will help. In fact, I’m sure there isn’t. But there are some road signs.
Like the kid (notice the gender neutral) who cried wolf, the “one and only” can be overused and oversold. Save it for the best; for your best and for clients (or friends for that matter) who get it and appreciate the risk, but make sure it is your best and worth the risk.
Cry wolf too many times and you cheapen the ideas and lessen the impact—
not to mention that sword……..
Finally, always ask yourself is it really worth it? Will the results be that much better? Will my life be that much easier? I often find that the very notion of not wanting to take the sword position—and making it clear that it’s not worth it—often gets me to the same place and with more credibility.
I was inspired by this thought:
To be willing to die for an idea is to set a rather high price on conjecture.
Think about all the silly things people have been ready to die for and all the things people have killed for. It’s sad and shameful.
My sense is: keep your powder dry…