The Course

When you first begin as a strategist, you hold the faulty assumption that foresight means predicting what happens next. Of course, though it sometimes does, more often than not, the proper plan is proven wrong before it is proven proper.

There are plenty of opportunities to undermine yourself along the way. To have doubts. To want to turn back. To disavow the instincts that brought you here. They say that the market bottoms out when the last bull finally blinks and throws in the towel.

So you may beat yourself up when it doesn’t work out exactly as you envisioned. You forget that the timeline could be a year or five years or longer. Groundwork can suddenly pay off without expectation. It can look very bad before it ever starts to look good – or worse it can look like nothing, like you did nothing at all.

What you need to develop is the quiet confidence that Seneca called euthymia—”the belief that you’re on the right path and not led astray by the many tracks which cross yours of people who are hopelessly lost.” You’re after something elusive and rare and critical: to not be shaken. If you can accept that your strategy will almost certainly “feel wrong” at some point, you’ll be less likely to ditch it at the critical moment. In fact, you’ll come to know this test as a positive experience that exercises your tolerance for dissonance.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.