What Would This Look Like If It Were Easy?

Tim Ferriss just released the audiobook of his book “Tribe of Mentors”. The book contains the answers to 11 questions he sent out to hundreds of the world’s “top performers” from across all possible fields of expertise. In the introduction, which you can also listen to in Tim’s latest podcast episode, he talks about how the book came into being and mentions a question he regularly uses to start any kind of project. It is a question that leads to asking many other good questions:

What would this look like if it were easy?

Whenever we start a new endeavor, we often convince ourselves that things need to be hard, that they need to be sophisticated and at a certain expert-level. Whether it is strategy, design, or development, we tend to believe that something is only worthy of our attention and time if it is expert enough. Otherwise, we feel like cheaters who take the easy way out instead of using the advanced process that real professionals use. This often leads to more work and hardships in the process than necessary and consumes a lot of time and energy that we could use for more important pieces of the puzzle instead.

If it were easy, how would we simplify the checkout flow for our visitors? If it were easy, how would a person who relies on assistive technology navigate our user interface? If it were easy, would we really create layouts for all page types in four different viewport sizes? If it were easy, would we still build this website as a client-side React app? If it were easy, how would a prototype look like to test this idea we have?

Making something easy and crystal clear is hard. But asking the right questions upfront can be more productive than trying to make up for wrong decisions by stressing out later on. Asking “What would this look like if it were easy?” is such a right question. It frees you from the obligation to do things “as we have always done them” and lets you think about a problem in new and unusual ways so you can reframe it and create something truly unique.

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This is the 25th post of my 100 days of writing series. You can find a list of all posts here.

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