Will I die? Will I go to Jail? Will I go Bankrupt?: A litmus test for ambitious ideas

Chances are you have a big idea, one that scares the hell out of you, one that you’re afraid to put out into the world. It’s the kind of idea that requires a compass, not a map. But something has kept you from putting it out in the world.

That something has been given numerous names by many people:

You have many names for this thing as well: fear, self doubt, self awareness, a voice inside your head that conveniently gets louder than a damn heavy metal concert when you’re about to attempt something bold, ambitious, and audacious.

That voice does one thing really well: blow things completely out of proportion really fast.

  • This will never work
  • This is crazy
  • People will think I’m an idiot (Rest assured if there are 7 billion people on the planet. One of them thinks you’re an idiot, I’m an idiot, and even the people we put on pedestals are idiots).
  • I have no idea how to do this
  • Who am I to do such a thing?
  • What if it doesn’t work?
  • What if I fail?
  • What if I go to jail?
  • What if I don’t get an “A” (FYI nobody is giving you a letter grade when it comes to the pursuit of your boldest ambitions)
  • What if it does?
  • What if blows up in my face?
  • What if my parents disown me, my wife or girlfriend leaves me and my kids hate me?

Holy shi$# I’m going to die.

In a very short amount of time just the thought of putting a bold idea out into the world has resulted in anxiety, losing everything that matters, hitting rock bottom, and death. And almost none of the above has anything to do with your idea

In case you’re wondering I’m speaking from experience. I’m intimately familiar with the resistance, the lizard brain, the chain on the elephant and the voice that won’t shut the hell up when I need it to. You also might be under the illusion that there are people who don’t have this voice inside their head. Everyone has it, but they’ve learned to tame that beast, slay it or dance with it. Whatever you’re particular flavor of vodka is will work.


Now let’s talk about the litmus test with some recent examples.


My friend Matt Monroe and I had been discussing the development of an app that would allow people to tweet live audio and interact with their followers. So we did what many people do at first. We started talking about hiring a developer, marketing it, and more. We forgot to ask one important question. Would anybody want this? The fear that nobody will want your app or you’ll hear crickets chirping keeps so many people from pursuing their boldest ideas.

The consequences of putting our most ambitious ideas into the world are almost never bankruptcy, jail time or death.

So we bought the domain, Earhorn.io and threw up a landing page. Get on our prelaunch list and we’ll let you know when it’s built.

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2. Unmistakable Adventures

An hour later I was on the phone with Matt telling him about an idea for surf and writing retreat. He told me to team up with Justine Musk who happens to be an incredible writer and she suggested we add Yoga into the mix. I bought the domain Unmistakable Adventures and we put the idea out into the world.

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Nobody died. Nobody went to jail. Nobody went bankrupt.

The idea of a minimum viable product is nothing new. One of thefastest ways to go from idea to execution is to take the easiest possible step.Will I Die? Will I Go to Jail? Will I Go Bankrupt is a useful litmus to test that can help you take that first step.

I’m the host and founder of The Unmistakable Creative Podcast, and the author of The Compass: A Creator’s Guide to Instigating Something that Matters

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Order An Audience of One: Reclaiming Creativity for Its Own Sake:https://amzn.to/2LVjgQa Listen to the @UnmistakableCR podcast in iTunes http://apple.co/1GfkvkP

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