Exploration and Exploitation

Fabio Rosato

September 7, 2022

We’re all figuring it out as we go.

Nobody knows precisely what they’re doing. And if they do, they’re delusional.

We all proceed and progress through trial and error.

But you might reasonably be wondering “Ok but how do I decide what I should be focusing on?”

Here’s a simple 2-step framework to figure out what you should be dedicating your time to.

1. Exploration

Start by casting a very wide net.

By trying many different things, you can get a sense of what comes more easily to you and set yourself up for success.

It is much easier to focus on something that’s working than struggle with a bad idea.

After some exploration, there comes a point where you have to make a call and decide.

Do we continue trying new things or do we double down on one strategy? Do we try to innovate or do we commit to doing one thing well?

Everyone wants to know the right time to simplify and focus on one thing. But the truth is that nobody knows. That’s what makes success so hard. Entrepreneurship isn’t like baking a cake. There is no recipe. There is no guidebook.

If you’ve explored enough and you’re at the stage where you start asking yourself whether it’s time to decide on something… then your best option is to actually decide.

You can’t try everything. At some point, you don’t need more information, you just need to make a choice.

You have experimented with enough ideas to discover one or two options that seem to provide better than average results for you. You’ve overcome the urge of wanting more information and the fear of committing to something and now you’ve made a choice.

You took the job. You started the business. You signed up for the class. You’re ready.

2. Exploitation

Welcome to the grind. It’s time to put in the reps.

Build a volume of work. Not just once or twice. Not just when it’s easy. But a consistent, repeated volume of work.

You have to fall in love with boredom and stay on the bus.

It is through this sheer number of reps that you’ll come to understand the fundamentals of your task.

You might know what greatness looks like before this point, but you won’t understand how to achieve it until you’ve put the work in yourself.

In the words of Ira Glass:

“your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you.”

You’ll bridge that gap between what you know is good and what you can produce yourself only by putting in the reps.

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