How To Avoid Ambivalence (Because It’s The Enemy)

When Saturday Night Live Creator Lorne Michaels was casting his first season, he’d already hired Chevy Chase, Gilda Ratner and Bill Murray from the National Lampoon’s stage.

But Michaels sat on hiring their buddy John Belushi, even though his audition blew everyone away. As he tells it, “The enemy was ambivalence”.

Ambivalence in that Belushi wanted to play it cool and make them pursue him—he wasn’t a big fan of television (and SNL was an experiment that had never been tried before).

But with every other premier season player panting for the opportunity, Michaels was none too keen on casting the poster boy for ambivalence.

Eventually, they found common ground and Belushi got hired (it’s kinda fun to watch Michaels grumble about him in Belushi the 2020 documentary).

That ambivalence is probably why it took a year for him to find his footing on the show (the year Chevy Chase was the breakout star), even with his crazily outsized talent.

Lorne was right: ambivalence is the enemy.

Avoiding ambivalence in the authority business means for every big decision that we are either VERY in or we’re definitely out. There is no in-between.

Do you want to consult on issue X or problem Y? With Fortune 500 clients or start-ups? Do you want to serve clients or build products for buyers?

The beauty of our businesses is we can monetize them in literally thousands of different ways. But we do have to choose.

Which means being ambivalent ain’t gonna work—we must ignore whatever is not a resounding yes and kick the hell-no’s to the curb.

BTW—a healthy dose of fear as you make big choices is to be expected—that goes with this territory of building a business.

Fear is not ambivalence—it means you care enough to consciously explore the murky corners of your next move(s).

Ambivalence is the enemy, not fear.

Dig into the choices that scare you—that’s where your power lies.

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