So the other day, I was having my non-weekly weekly family Skype call. And apparently there’s this new movie out called “Argo” or something? I dunno…kids today with their Facebooks and their Twitters and their Game Boys and bell-bottoms; I don’t really know what’s going on any more.
But anyway, the movie is about Ben Affleck, who plays a mafia gangster, and him and J-Lo travel to Iran during the 1979 revolution to rescue a ring from a computer simulation or something, I dunno. The content of the movie is really beside the point. The point is this…
Sorry, I lost my train of thought…
OK, no, really, though. The movie is based on the true (and, IIRC, now declassified) story of how the CIA faked a Hollywood movie shoot and Canadian travel documents in order to go snag some embassy workers who were being taken hostage or something. Again, I’m fuzzy on the details because:
- I was not even a twinkle in my most-definitely-not-a-virgin mother’s eye in 1979, and
- I haven’t seen the movie yet
But said movie plan really was a real CIA plan. This was a real idea. And if it sounds like the plot of a movie, a little “True Lies”-esque, that’s because…it does…
So much so that, apparently, at one point in the movie (and presumably IRL as well), when it’s pointed out by a CIA sempai 1 how bad the idea is, Bennifer and his CIA classmate respond to the criticism with something to the effect of:
Bennifer: “There are only bad options; it’s about finding the best one...”
CIA classmate: “This is the best bad idea we have…”.
Alternate link: movieclips.com/zDJy2-argo-movie-the-best-bad-idea-we-have/
Like any high-quality movie quote, this one is both funny and profound. Let it never be said that movies cannot teach us how to think and live: they can and they do, for good or ill. My only fear is that my over-analyzing the quote may “break” it, sort of like trying to explain an aphorism — like Nassim Taleb says, if you have to explain…there’s kinda no point, really.
Here at the AJATT, I get a lot of emails from people asking me to “critique” their personal…I dunno what you’d even call them…curricula? Their “study plans” for Japanese. And kids ask me, “hey, is this right?”, “will this work?”, “am I doing this right?”, “what do you think of this?”. I get kids asking me “I’m watching karate videos, is this OK?”.
For a moment, let’s just leave aside the fact that my email response rate is close to a perfect 0. Let’s ignore what I said about advice on how to take advice. Let’s even ignore the paradox of how I give advice that is at least apparently contradictory on many levels. And let’s just ask this question:
Why does your idea even have to be right, really?
Are you curing cancer?
Are people going to die?
Fact: inaction kills more projects than bad ideas. Inaction kills more projects than bad action kills people.
If projects were people, inaction would be genocide. Inaction would be AIDS, malaria and pins-and-needles all rolled into one.
So should you watch this or that?
Should you do this or that?
I came all this way to tell you that on a fundamental level, it doesn’t really matter.
Your ideas may all be bad. So what? Just take the best bad one and run with it.
Will you get blown away by how right I was when you do something that goes against advice I gave? Perhaps.
Will you bark up strange trees and go down weird rabbit holes? Probably.
Will you come back and think: “dang, I shoulda done what Khatzumoto told me/us to do”? Maybe.
But this is not a bad thing, because you’ll have been actually doing things. You will have momentum.
Bad ideas are not the enemy.
Are there exceptions to this? Are their times when inaction is better than action?
But as far as you’re concerned, in 99.999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999 fake number used for dramatic effect % of times, places and occasions, none of those exceptions apply to you. Seriously.
So go already. Go with what you’ve got. It’s good enough. It’ll do. Run.
All your ideas are bad anyway. They all suck. Just pick the least sucky one. Pick one and run.
Start something Japanese. Anything.