Derek Sivers

Assume nobody is going to help you


I meet entrepreneurs who are waiting to find an investor. I meet musicians who are waiting to find a manager.

My advice is to assume nobody is coming. It’s more useful to assume that it’s all up to you. This is not hopeless, but helpful and empowering.

You probably heard about Aron Ralston, who got trapped in a remote canyon for five days and had to cut off his own arm to escape because he knew nobody would rescue him. They made a movie about it called “127 Hours”. If he believed that someone would come, he would have just waited. But because he knew it was entirely up to him, he rescued himself.

When you assume nobody is going to help, you have to use all of your strength and resources. You can’t wait, because there’s nobody to wait for. It keeps your focus on the things in your control — not outside circumstances. It’s productive pessimism.

Yes of course it’s smart to always ask your fans and friends for help. Strive to work with the best collaborators, agents, producers, etc. But never count on their help. That’s the difference.

Then, when someone does help you, it just makes it even better.