If you’ve got it, you get it

“Once you’ve got a few dollars, they multiply like mice.” – quote from an old movie, source forgotten.

This seems to be true, but why? Some possible reasons:

Passive returns. Investments such as real estate can produce about seven percent a year, which compounds. This is good, although not as great as the 10 percent of the stock market over the past 50 years, or the 13 percent of the S&P 500 since the global financial crisis, or 20 percent that Warren Buffett has managed over his career.

Law of increasing returns. The incremental cost of replicating a high value but cheap-to-make product such as a software program or book is small.

Learning. The more we do something, the better and more efficient we can become at it. This learning also spreads to adjoining areas that have similarities to the initial process. The iPod was a step along the way to the iPhone.

Network effect. The greater the number of people who are using a new type of product, the more successful it becomes, because this growth improves the infrastructure and reinforces the standard. Electric vehicles are enjoying this kick-along.

Social proof. As your profile rises, the word spreads, and so your reputation grows. Amazon built a name for low cost and reliability of supply.

Jigsaw effect. The closer we get to finishing a project or mastering a complex skill, the simpler the job becomes. Resources become focused on the remaining pieces of the puzzle. As well, the nearly-done product is easier to see.

Life can seem unfair until we get a few mice. There’s not much to each of the little tikes, but they do reproduce.

No, boredom isn’t always bad

In a previous post, we talked about having more than one project going at once, to provide continuing progress. When one gets stuck, you can switch to another.

This sounds fine, but there’s a caveat. Changing projects can undermine the boredom that got you going in the first place.



With luck, our work provides not only an income, but also the fun of creating, problem solving and completing. Work can be interesting and stimulating, something that gets us out of bed in the morning, ready to take on the challenges of a new day.


An antidote to dullness and ennui, in other words.

However there’s more than one way to slice this apple, and the truth is that alternative projects can undermine interest in the first one, killing the urge to complete it. This isn’t just about using up the energy or time that can be spent on something else. It’s about the hunger that impels the task.

Example 1: After jousting with your editor on the phone for an hour, you’d rather slit your wrists open than make those marketing calls.

Example 2:  Designing your new kitchen online was fun. Too bad about the client newsletter that’s now overdue by a week.

Ideally, our ventures should work to satisfy different internal masters, rather than competing to achieve the same ends. Otherwise there’s a chance we’ll lose interest forever.

Don’t let your projects fight each other to keep the boredom at bay.

Photo by Nastya Dobryvecher