Lead Bullets

Came across a great passage from Ben Horowitz' The Hard Thing about Hard Things.

In it, Microsoft had just announced IIS (Internet Information Server) which competed directly with Netscape's web servers, offering the same features and five times the speed ... for free. Ben faces a crisis and starts looking for ways to pivot the business and presents ideas to the veteran engineering lead Bill Turpin, who responds with:

Ben, those silver bullets that you and Mike are looking for are fine and good, but our web server is five times slower. There is no silver bullet that’s going to fix that. No, we are going to have to use a lot of lead bullets.

This, I think, is a valuable little metaphor. 

All too often, in any context (trying to learn a new skill, trying to lose weight, trying to find that new product edge) people have this implicit quest for that magical silver bullet that somehow solves the problem. Problem is: it doesn't exist. Producing a valuable result is by definition difficult and by definition demands a long, hard grind.

You're going to have to use a lot of lead bullets.