On Being Too Soon or Too Late

Fear is indeed a great motivator sometimes.

Today, I thought about some of the things we’re trying to do with our business – from hiring 6+ new people in the last couple of months to starting a nonprofit foundation after just being in business for 3.5 years.

And I had to ask myself this question: Would I rather be too soon or too late?

When I think of this question it is in the context of innovative and new things that push the envelope of traditional (or normal) business operations… i.e. anything that involves taking a chance on something that typically is untraditional, unorthodox, untested … or even at a faster rate than usual (like a startup starting a nonprofit).

The answer for me is simple … I’d rather make a mistake doing something too soon (generally speaking) than being too late to the party.

I’d rather have tried and failed, then never have tried and be bitter about missing the opportunity. And I’ve met my share of bitter people who either squandered an opportunity or watched it sail away. (Either way – they have themselves exclusively to blame.)

Oftentimes, being too soon means somebody behind you sees what you are doing, is inspired, and creates something even better. That’s because being too soon sometimes means you are a pioneer. You are busy cutting the trees in the forest, when others can watch from a distance and see the forest you’ve discovered.

It sucks for the pioneer, but only if fame and glory is your chief game. True pioneers enjoy the journey of discovery.

But the opposite side of being too late to the party often means you are perhaps overly resistant to risks or anything new and therefore, apathetic. You sit on the comfortable manicured golf greens far away from the trailblazers and scoff behind your binoculars at them (while often being consumed with jealousy). You mistakenly think that the safest place is to stay exactly where you are.

Think of the trailerblazers, the innovators, the creators, the explorers throughout history who took a chance and did something perhaps “too soon” …. they conquered new worlds and created new nations, economies, life-changing inventions and industries. Think of all their detractors. Their names are lost, while the names of the ones they mocked are craved forever into history.

For me, I’d rather push the envelope and take calculated risks (see the affordable loss principle) to do something new and innovative and make a bold step forward into unexplored lands … all the while taking the risk of falling flat on my face and being laughed at, for the sole purpose of doing something special with my life and business that MEANS and STANDS for something.

To innovate and to explore and to create.

I don’t mind taking the chance on being a too-soon embarrassment rather than being a too-late, has-been, never-was.

What about you?


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  1. Thanks for the thoughtful post and question. From a practical standpoint, I’d rather be too soon than too late. One of my products was beat to its market by a competitor and, I believe, it cost me in terms of opportunities with the press and thus sales. Despite that, I’ve enjoyed the journey so far;-)

  2. Growth is hard to figure. When to swing the hammer and double down, when to just keep swimming.

    I’ve tried to grow too fast and dissipated all my work and diffused my focus so nothing good happened.

    I’ve waited. Too long, missed my chance.
    (nice typography here, man, it looks really sharp to me. It “pops”. )

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