no other justification for pursuit than its difficulty


“In discussing the goal of reaching Mars and what motivations might lie behind it, the task needs no other justification for pursuit than its difficulty. There’s a calling because we do these things because they’re hard. There’s something in the human spirit that says you fail once, and it’s like this feeling that, you know what? I’m not going to back down from this. There’s something to be discovered in overcoming this thing.”

Lex Fridman


I have always disliked specific goals and milestones and basically the gamification of people in business. At the core of my dislike is the understanding that the senior leadership belief is the only way you can get people to do what they need to do is to set an objective with an array of carrots & sticks. But the wretched underbelly of even that is the unfortunate truth that they don’t do this because the pursuit is difficult – of specific desired successes; but because the specific pursuit is usually either (a) a stupid pursuit <the objective is simply an objective> or (b) a hollow pursuit <the objective is simply revenue, profit or completion of a task>. And even worse in all of this <as if I even had another level of badness> is that the means are not meant to offer any discovery, the means are simply necessary to meet the ends. What I mean by that is the focus is on tasks-to-get-shit-done and not “learn & do”. And there is where I step in and suggest more businesses need “BHAGS” <big hairy audacious goals>, soaring visions, and larger adventuresome spirits. Why? Well. The tasks then need no other justification for pursuit than its difficulty and the inherent discovery in the difficult pursuit.

This means I don’t have a 5-year goal to meet this vision, it just takes as long as it takes.

This means I don’t have to always have established unmoving objectives, they roll along to accommodate the pursuit, i.e., reality <things learned along the journey>.

This means I don’t have to always have milestones or sprints or even 100% specificity of ‘doing’, part of success is discovery.

This means I don’t have to ‘game’ people because they find meaning through contributing to the pursuit.


I imagine this is just a more business version of “it’s the journey, not the destination.” That said. Business LOVES destinations and fears journeys.

Which makes me conclude this thought with fear makes business do a lot of stupid shit.


Written by Bruce