My good friend Dewitt Jones, who was instrumental in helping me set the course for the book, just recently spoke at an event in Chicago. If you have not seen Dewitt speak, it is something I highly recommend. Dewitt was a photographer for National Geographic for over 30 years. In the hundreds of events he has spoken at, one question, one frustrating question keeps coming up over and over again: “How many good pictures do you get out of one roll of film?”
He would quickly respond that they were asking the wrong question (if only life were so simple). Instead, he would ask them, how many rolls of film would you use, how early would you get up, how long would you sit in the rain, what are you willing to commit to get that one picture? The right answer rarely happens on cue and it is never easy. He was an exceptional photographer because he was not afraid to take thousands of pictures. He was searching for the perfect image and just kept taking pictures until it appeared in the viewfinder. Because, in the end, the only question that matters is “Did you get it”?
Financial planning and in reality all things in life are exactly the same. If you wait for the perfect situation and perfect ending, you will fail. Trial and error is a necessary component for success. You cannot script good things to happen. You can only create the right process, right thinking and a willingness to keep trying. Every failure is an opportunity. Fail often and you will find success. Just make sure that each failure is measurable because if you over commit to one situation and fail, you don’t get to fail again which means you won’t succeed.
The average National Geographic article has about 30 pictures. Dewitt would take 40,000 pictures to find those right answers. After all a roll of film is cheap relative to the reward.