Use the Goldilocks Rule to get results and one strategy to deploy

The Goldilocks Rule states that we’re most motivated when working at the edge of our abilities.

It’s a concept I came across while reading Atomic Habits, but I realized after some reflection I’d seen this rule in action.

To illustrate this concept, I’m going to introduce you to “Bob.”

Bob was the owner of a professional services firm and worked for ABC International, a Fortune 500 company.

One day, ABC was experiencing a crisis.

It was in this moment that Aaron, the CEO of ABC turned to Bob and asked “can you do this?”

The ask required mobilization of epic proportions in a matter of 72 hours. Previously Bob had only employed a handful of people. This required him to 20x what he had previously accomplished.

Bob didn’t hesitate. He said yes.

Within 72 hours, while the deployment wasn’t perfect, it was good enough. Bob had delivered over and above what they thought was possible.

Anytime Bob encountered something he’d not come across before, he answered with “yes.”

Thousands of employees later, Bob has built the company on the principle that we want to do the best for our clients, whether we know how to do it or not.

This became known as the “no blink yes.”

Without knowing it, Bob had built a very specific cultural DNA.

It created a common goal

When a team knows they’re shooting for something hard, it brings a new level of focus and commitment.

It created a kinship

Sometimes everyone cursed Bob, but we were cursing him together.

Tension can create camaraderie, which results in you achieving more together than you could apart.

It built a sense of pride

This mentality became part of the DNA.

We took on challenges that no one else dared.

It fostered creativity

When pushed in this way, you have to think differently.

Hard things help you find creative solutions.

It pushed people to achieve the impossible

Companies 100x our size had said no to the ask from the Fortune 500 CEO.

Until we’re asked, we never know what we’re truly capable of.

When to use the “no blink yes”

The “no blink yes” isn’t for everyone or every situation.

Here are 4 questions to ask before deploying this strategy:

Do you have the right expertise?

Bob could say yes because he had the training and knowledge to make it work.

Had he done it at that scale? No. But often scale is just what you’ve done, bigger.

Do you have a prior relationship?

While not required, prior experience gives you an opportunity to fail.

It’s important you:

  • analyze the cost of losing the client or relationship
  • set the expectation of performance up front

It’s likely you’ll not fully deliver, but the effort is what matters.

Do you have prior experience?

Bob hadn’t done THAT, but he’d done similar things.

Similar is enough to convince you yes will work.

Do you have the right team or resources?

The mistake many make is not hiring the right team.

Hire people who are better than you, period.

Things to watch for

The “no blink yes” can go wrong, really wrong.

Ask yourself, what are the consequences if you crash and burn?

Things to watch out for:

  1. Stress it causes your team
  2. The expectations of the client
  3. When you’ve lost a sense of reality

The “no blink yes” is a great strategy for getting results no one (even you) thought were possible.

We’re capable of so much more than we think.

The only thing between you and success is the right yes.

I expand on this in my latest podcast, which you can listen to here.


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