Don't force it.

There is a great scene in the movie Oceans 12, where George Clooney and Brad Pitts’ characters are walking together in Amsterdam brainstorming ideas to make $198M in 2 weeks to pay back the casino owner they stole from in the first movie, Oceans 11. The two are career criminals, smart con-men that run elaborate heists to outsmart their victims out of money. It’s a very entertaining film.



But the reason I love this particular scene, is because of the conclusion the two come to after about 10 crazy ideas.

“We’re forcing it, aren’t we”


The characters go on to talk about good times, when they just took gigs which made sense, planned accordingly, got the team together and then made it a complete success.

Our lives are no different. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, has a favorite saying in many of his speeches recently, praising the discipline that Google has in “sailing with the wind.” Google don’t try to push shit up hill…they simply watch where the wind is going. George and Brad have it right. Don’t force it. If  someone is selling you a grand vision, or you find yourself in a meeting where someone is talking about an idea and you can’t visualize it happening, then guess what. You’re forcing it.

Don’t force it. You have enough great ideas that enable you to sail with the wind and have an amazing impact. You just need to figure out which way it’s blowing, and then put up the sail.

7 thoughts on “Don't force it.

  1. Top post mate, and I totally agree that we should just focus and build on what works and what is easy.

    What I find challenging is if you feel like a particular outcome is necessary, but there are no ideas that automatically make sense?

    How does this principle apply to issues like global poverty or climate change, where it seems like it’s a constant battle pushing shit uphill, but the outcome is so important that you can’t just let it go?

  2. Thanks @rosshill 🙂

    @nick_Allardice ripping question! I think it’s a tough one to apply to such huge, planetary goals like ending world poverty, or climate change for that matter. I think, as allude to in your question, we news to focus on having small wins, and growing the momentum from them into big ones.

    Ending world poverty is a tough mission, but it’s made even harder by trying to end it tomorrow. However, the wind is blowing in ‘some’ direction right now, and it’s our job to figure that out and begin sailing the ship that way. It may not be completely on message, but if we can tack a bit closer to the end goal then that’s something worth doing – and probably something that will reap more benefits in the long run that forcing something that doesn’t (yet) make sense.

  3. Hahaha, great one. I tend toward this philosophy ~ make great plans, set sail and be prepared to arrive at shores entirely different and way more magical than ever dreamed of ;-P

    My two cents on ‘ending world poverty tomorrow’ is it not only makes it seem harder, but is an entirely mistaken goal. While well-intentioned, it can also be potentially detrimental. Manageable pace is key with any human or social change ~ there are so many things that are interconnected in this complex networked eco-system we operate in and may fail to factor into considerations when taking a short-sighted, ends-oriented approach to goals. To impose ideas and solutions from a perspective of ‘we know what’s the best outcome’ without first seeking to understand our current circumstances, examining root causes, and also looking ahead at possible follow-on effects is in my opinion well-worth much caution.

    I’m much in favour of working with the natural flow, watching and allowing for adjustment and adapting as it all plays out…

  4. Thanks @zara, great comment!

    I’d only add, that like @nick raises above – sometimes you do need to step in and begin making change when it’s not easily apparent what that change will bring. It’s a mix of #bothand. Sometimes, we do need to just jump in and learn by gaining quick wins. Other times, we need to investigate a little further and live with what we’re trying to do before, well, doing it.


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