There’s a profound moment in Episode V of Star Wars in the midst of Luke Skywalker’s jedi training. After trying to get his ship out of the water with the force, Luke gives up (“It’s too big!”). He just moves to the side – dejected and frustrated.
Master Yoda then does it for him.
Seeing his ship out of the water, he goes to Yoda and says – “I don’t believe it.”
To this, Yoda says – “Yes. That is why you fail.”
It is one of those profound lessons that I find myself revisiting in times when I feel stuck (i.e., often :-)). Progress and belief reinforce each other. But, of the two, belief is in our control.
So, every time we find ourselves stuck dealing with an ambiguous product problem with far too many open questions (which problem to solve? which hypothesis? which metric?), I think the way out is to shut out the noise, take the time to build conviction in a direction, and move in the direction of those convictions till we have evidence that tells us otherwise.
We may still be wrong. But, at least, it won’t be a lack of wholehearted effort.