Bruce Lee once said something like:
Kicking a man in the head makes as much sense as punching him in the foot.
I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea. Your feet are low. Your hands are high. Why make things difficult on yourself?
People love the idea of kicking someone in the head because if it works, they would totally knock that guy out. It’s beautiful overkill. But really, punching them in the head will probably do the trick. How unconscious do you need them to be? Instagram and Facebook are the kick-in-the-head overkill successes. We’ve seen the slow-mo instant replays so many times that it starts seeming like the only way to win. But you can win the fight and become life-changingly wealthy by just punching the guy.
This saying also comes to mind whenever I hear a non-technical team talking about the challenges of their deeply technical idea. Or a non-salesy team saying the same about their sales-driven business. They’re trying to punch someone in the foot.
Then there’s this other quote from Grandmaster Wai Hong (also paraphrased) which says:
Our legs are slow and high kicks are difficult to use effectively. Therefore we must work doubly hard to improve them.
Very different attitude. But which is right? Do we avoid our weaknesses or invest heavily to improve them?
I think it partly depends on time scales. I personally believe everyone should learn enough programming to put up a basic website, but it’s probably not going to pay off for your current business. It’s a career skill, not an emergency addition to your skill set.
If you’re on a sinking boat, it’s probably wiser to start swimming than to try learning ship repair. But if you’re heading toward a career on the sea, developing this long-term skill might make good sense. If you’ve got a fight next week, forget the head kicks. If fighting is going to be a constant throughout life, then get to practicing. It’s like the inverse of choosing wars based on strengths and battles based on weaknesses.
It also depends on pleasure. If you particularly enjoy kicking things, then it’s hard to contend that you shouldn’t, even if it’s not the most efficient path to victory. Kick away, my feisty friend.