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Let's kick the shit out of Option B

When I sat down to write the closing chapters of my first book late last year, I had several options listed down as to how I would go about publishing it. Option A was to secure a publishing deal from a major publisher that included an excellent sign-on bonus and a royalty agreement. Option B was to settle for lesser terms with a lesser known publisher. Option C was to publish with someone on a royalty only basis and no sign-on bonus (which meant that the marketing would largely fall on me). Option D was to just publish it myself as an ebook. Option E was to keep the manuscript on my shelf (read Google drive) and forget about it.

While Option A was clearly the best possible outcome, I eventually went with Option C as obstacles came up in the ways of Options A and B, that I couldn't satisfactorily deal with in a timely manner.

Was I disappointed? Maybe a little, maybe at first. But soon, I had put it behind me and had soaked in the lessons that I could put to use the next time around. And within no time, I was working on my next idea, which I'm now halfway through and hope to complete sometime early next year.

From the very beginning, I knew what my possible options were in terms of outcomes and I had a fair idea on which one I would take under what circumstances.

This is how I've dealt with some other major decisions of my life as well - like picking a university to do my Engineering, and later on my MBA, and picking a company to start my first job, and the next.

Whenever I've mapped out the options and have thought about what circumstances would lead me to giving up on Option A and settling for Option B, it has been easier to accept the outcome and use that as a stepping stone or a springboard to move forward. After all, even Option A is always a stepping stone or a spring board. Just that the spring it provides is a little bit higher than what Option B can manage.

Moreover, that spring we get is a one time act. We are on our own to make the most of it and find another spring board to go even further.

I have also been in situations where I have not mapped out the possible options and what circumstances I would give up on Option A and move on.

Unsurprisingly, the outcomes in each and every one of these situations have been well worse than the Option B or C or D that I could have thought of and planned for had I not been doing it in retrospect.

And that has been a valuable lesson.

I have read a hundred times that inaction is worse than taking some action, any action. I have also read a hundred times that clinging onto something longer than I ought to is simply living in the past and wallowing in thoughts of what could have been and that all of it leads nowhere but to despair.

I knew all of that.

But what I didn't know was that the opposite was to think ahead of time and to plan for an Option B. Not just the definition of Option B, but to deliberately decide what would make me give up on Option A and move on to Option B.

As a Product Manager, this is a critical skill I bring to my work. It is about time I mastered that skill in the rest of my life as well.

As Sheryl Sandberg writes in her latest book, "Option A is not available. So let's kick the shit out of Option B."

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