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From Free to Good to Best

From Free to Good to Best – I own two chef’s knives that I’ve prepped with for years.

They’re OK: an Ikea blade and a low-end J.A. Henckles blade. So I’ve spent hundreds of hours working with mediocre tools.

I do this because I’m in the middle of a slow progression from free to good to best, designed to prevent me from valuing tools more than technique.

I’ve blown it before, buying a bunch of music equipment before acquiring the skill to justify it, for example.

And not infrequently I encounter the girl who has the best tennis racket but can’t play, or the guy who has the best knives but can’t cook.

So I think: Borrow a racket from the club. Build skill and understanding.

Start free and explore tennis in imperfect conditions. Do I still love it after months of practice?

Buy some OK equipment. Keep building. Do I still love it after years of practice? Buy the best equipment.

By the time I have the best tools, I can use my skill and understanding to appreciate their intrinsic value.

The difference between good and best is subtle and requires sophistication in the user commensurate with the sophistication of the tool.

At the start I can’t appreciate the best tools and they just mistakenly signify skill in me.

In entrepreneurship it may be more gratifying in the short term to acquire the signifiers of success or to take oneself hostage with pricey tools.

(“If I buy this domain and reserve this EC2 instance for a year I’ll have no choice but to finish the project!”)

Instead I’ve learned: put in the work, build skill, and if I’m going to fail, I’ll fail free.