When you think of Steve Jobs, what comes to mind? The billion dollar ideas of Apple are surely the answer for most of us. In the same way, when you think of Jeff Bezos, the goliath that is Amazon is probably the first thing you think of. However, Apple and Amazon didn’t just appear overnight as they are today. They are like icebergs, and what we see now are just the tips. There has been a whole lot going on out-of-sight that we just don’t hear about.
Ultimately, when you think of success, society has led us to perceive it in its current form, rather than considering how it has been achieved. In “Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries”, Peter Sims sets out to change this perception – and he does an extremely good job in doing just that.
A ‘little bet’ is “a low-risk action taken to discover, develop, and test an idea”, according to Sims. His narrative claims that people become successful through making lots of ‘little bets’, rather than generating immediate success from a big idea.
Take Chris Rock as an example – while we all see his hugely successful performances, what we don’t see are the hundreds of acts he performs at small venues. He uses these low-key acts as little bets; opportunities to test out jokes and using the conclusions drawn here to move on to become bigger and better. He might fail with one hundred jokes before finding one that is well received and, according to Sims, not only is that failure ok, but an important part of driving future success.
What the book allows the reader to understand is that this idea of taking smaller chances and facing failure is not just something we see in one of two industries, but across the board – from Pixar to Amazon, the US Army to comedians. It inspires the reader to believe that whatever their passion and however small an idea, they are capable of achieving success.
One of my favourite aspects of the book is that it nullifies the myth that successful people and successful ideas are always grand designs, arriving into the entrepreneur’s imagination in an Einstein-like flash of brilliance. That may be the case for some, but they are few and far between. For the most part, big ideas take time. Success takes time. Most importantly, success from a big idea usually derives from many smaller bets and a fair dose of failure.
In my opinion, it’s certainly not a book that is too enthralling to put down. It took me time, concentration and several afternoons to get through. However, I think that spending time on it was a good thing. It allowed me to consider my own ideas and play around with the little bets I could make in both my personal and professional life, and what sort of success I could achieve.
The biggest reason I would recommend reading this book? It opens up your mind and helps to change your way of thinking. By perceiving processes, ideas and success in this new ‘little bets’ format, it makes it all seem so much more achievable.
Rating – 8 Penguins (out of a possible 10)
Buy a copy on Amazon here (please note this is an affiliate link).
So, what do you think? Have you read Little Bets and have something to share? Not interested in it for a particular reason? Leave a comment below!
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