Who has to lose in order for you to win?

Of course, this is a silly question, we live in a world of endless possibilities. The pie doesn’t have to be fixed.

And yet, we play these types of finite games all the time.

The Olympics.

Wars.

Racing someone to get on the freeway.

Hence, the problem with our dialogue surrounding gun control: Someone doesn’t have to lose in order for you to win.

It is possible to be a responsible gun owner and support gun reform.

It is possible to discuss automatic weapons, high-capacity magazines, background check, waiting periods, mental health, effects of media and video games, the Second Amendment, the corruption of the NRA without losing our civility.

This conversation is too important for it to be lost in who wins in the end.

The culture of numbers

A couple weeks ago, I overheard someone say that more teenagers die from texting and driving than gun violence.

The point she went on to make was that the conversation should shift to a bigger problem, indicating that gun violence deaths among teens was blown out of proportion due to the media.

What a shame.

It is a shame that we reduced ourselves to a culture of numbers–where one cause is more important than another because of statistics. And unfortunately, we see this tactic of proliferation all too often.

Where is our humanity? 

The thing is, motor vehicle accidents, suicides and gun violence are the three leading causes of death for teens.

One cause is not more important to solve than the other. Every human being is important.

One death is a tragedy and a million is a catastrophe, not a statistic.

Hot hand fallacy

Nobody can predict the results of a random event. That would make it predictable not random.

Yet, we tell ourselves stories that somehow we are the exception to the data, that success is right around the corner or past performance is indicative of future results.

We call this the hot hand or gambler’s fallacy.

This is how we stay on the hook, that with one more attempt we could win again or somehow convince ourselves there is a chance.

The truth is, suckers play the lottery. You are better off throwing your money away. Or better yet, giving it to a charity. At least it could be used for something good.

Year after year, people still continue to play the lottery.

Because money is a story.

It is a story we tell ourselves. It can be used as a tool or is something that oppresses us.

Edgy

It’s tempting to aim at the center. We think this where we could have the biggest impact for the biggest audience.

Except in the center, this is where your work will suffer.

To the masses, your work looks like everyone else’s. It can’t stand out because there is a crowd fighting for every bit of attention.

And even if your work finds a way to get the attention of the masses, it is highly likely that most people won’t get it. In order for the masses to understand what it is you are trying to accomplish, you will have to dumb it down.

It is far better than to aim for the edges.

At the edges is where you can experiment with your tribe to find out what resonates with them. At the edges you can remain unseen while you perfect your craft. At the edges you can stand for something, not everything.

Find the smallest group of people only you can change. Now, go change them.

What success looks like at the beginning

If you wrote something for the masses and went to the center, they will say that it reminds them of someone else.

And if you went to the edges, they probably won’t get it.

At the beginning, most people won’t take the time to read what you wrote or even know who you are.

That’s okay.

Anonymity is a great place to start while you perfect your craft.

If you can’t change one person how are you expected to change a thousand?

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”

The old adage credited to Henry Ford. (Who knows if he actually said it?)

It’s important principle to understand that customers often don’t know what they actually want.

The thing is, not everyone is going to get the joke and there is no need to dumb down our work in order for everyone to understand it.

It is far easier to build products for your customers than to find customers for your products.