Always Keep Several Irons on the Fire

Think like a blacksmith if you want to maximize your potential.
Think like a blacksmith if you want to maximize your potential.

If your goal is to constantly improve your life — be it your career, relationships, investing, or anything else — you need to keep many irons on the fire.

Back when blacksmiths were important, the best blacksmiths could work on several pieces of metal at the same time. This resulted in big productivity gains, more money for the blacksmith, and more happy customers that could put their shiny new tools to good use.

Nowadays, we use the term to describe the act of considering many opportunities at once. Note that this doesn’t mean we should pursue several things at once. Our time is precious, so we should only follow through on the very best opportunities.

Some Real World Examples

  • If you’re looking for a new job like my friend Shauna is, you should be considering several prospective employers. Tailor your resumè specifically for each company you apply to, and make sure it’s a place you actually want to work before you put time into applying.
  • If you’re a small business owner, you should be constantly on the lookout for new ways to grow your business. Think about better marketing angles, new niches you can serve, or even potential buyouts or partnerships with competitors.
  • If you’re an entrepreneur, you should always be looking for underserved niches that you can create businesses around. Opportunity abounds both in disrupting old industries and being the face of an entirely new industry.
  • If you’re an investor, keep scanning the landscape for new stocks or other assets you can invest in. Consider the current investment cycle, what’s working now, what no longer works, and what might work in five or ten years.

When we keep several irons on the fire, we significantly increase our chances of landing a dream job, hitting a big new growth cycle in our business, pinpointing the next hot stock that’s set to surge in value. In contrast, no irons on the fire means zero chance of improving our position.

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