Essay

Is This Necessary?

(Boring) Prerequisites for Success

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” 

-A. Lincoln

Prerequisites matter. I’m hunkered down trying to make progress on a variety of long-deferred organizational chores. We decided to set aside this week to attend to those necessary, yet less interesting projects that never seem to get done, like organizing files and finally getting new business cards printed. I’ve come to appreciate the imperative for robust infrastructure. Each plateau during this climb up “Mt. Sustainability,” as the late Ray Anderson called it, requires not only the appropriate tools, but the right preparation. Too often, we expect progress without having laid the groundwork. Getting ready often isn’t half as exciting as the actual execution. But without it, we’re almost sure to slip up at some point, and fail to achieve any type of summit. I’m not enjoying the week’s tasks. However, I’m taking solace, and seeking motivation, in knowing that slogging through the swamp is a necessary step to achieving new heights. It’s a lesson that can be applied to many of our undertakings, projects that can start before we fully understand what problem, exactly, we’re trying to solve.

Peter Nicholson, Innovationist
FORESIGHT DESIGN INITIATIVE

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