I recently came across a blog post by Seth Godin entitled “Buzzer Management.” Buzzer Management, what is that you ask? Godin recounts being the coach for his high school’s quiz team and noticing that the first one to hit the buzzer got the chance to answer. It didn’t matter if Godin’s team knew the answer because if they didn’t hit the buzzer first they didn’t get the opportunity to answer and potentially win the game. He writes, “You need to press the buzzer before you know the answer.”
As the year is drawing to a close I’ve started thinking about all the things I wanted to accomplish this year. I did accomplish some of the things I wanted, like entering my artwork in exhibitions, creating products to sell online, but other goals like writing a children’s book fell by the wayside.
Some of the things that I thought I wanted to do didn’t seem as important as the year progressed, but there are a few goals that are just as important now as they were in January or even the year before. Why haven’t I accomplished some of these things? I’ve been afraid, but my fear was disguised as perfectionism. It wasn’t the right time or the product or service or I didn’t have the right idea. Nothing was quite right and I risked nothing to reach my goals.
I didn’t hit the buzzer with an imperfect product so instead, I have a perfect dream that has yet to be realized. There is something to be said for taking your time and making sure you’ve dotted your “i’s” and crossed your “t’s,” but at what point does the pursuit of perfection become a rejection of risk. Godin writes, “… the penalty for being wrong is small compared to the opportunity to get it right.”
When Camille, DeDe and I started The Spinsters Union almost a year and a half ago we didn’t know how to run a blog. When we set the launch date, we didn’t even have content written, but we had a deadline. We held to our deadline and debuted our blog on July 13, 2016, and we’ve hit the buzzer ever since. If we had waited until we felt comfortable running a blog we would probably still be talking about creating a blog instead of writing for one every month.
What can hitting the buzzer do for you?
Adapt to Uncertainty
There are few certainties in life yet we act as if certainty should be expected. People who have been laid off know that job security is not a given, people who have lost a loved one know that the next day of our lives is not promised. Our reactions to the uncertainty of life determine our happiness and resilience in the face of life’s challenges.
You may not know the answer or how to do something when you “hit the buzzer,” but do you trust in your ability to find the answer either within yourself, through research, trial and error, or just plain asking someone?
Expand Your Comfort Zone
Risk taking is a muscle, it needs to be exercised in order to perform well. When you step out on a limb or step out on faith, you’re creating a new border to the Land of You. Taking a risk in one area of your life can pay dividends in many other areas of your life. Godin writes, “The act of buzzing leads to leaping, and leaping leads to great work.” Maybe the greatest work you’ll ever do is reaching your potential.
We’re a little more than 30 days before the end of 2016, what goal are you going to hit the buzzer on in your life?