Does it help to be desperate?

Does it help to be desperate(ˈdesp(ə)rət)?

By Derek Sivers

I’d always felt it was best to never be desperate.

Confidence comes from knowing you have many options.

But reading the autobiography(ˌôdəbīˈäɡrəfē) of Richard(ˈriCHərd) Branson, the founder of Virgin(ˈvərjən), it was clear his entire career was driven by a self-created desperation(ˌdespəˈrāSH(ə)n).

He would always sweet-talk the bank into giving him a large loan(lōn) to take on an ambitious(amˈbiSHəs) new venture. Then he’d stay deep in debt(det) past the final hour, always to the brink(briNGk) of getting repossessed(ˌrēpəˈzes), and use that do-or-die desperation to take an even more ambitious gamble(ˈɡambəl), somehow coming out ahead.

Just enough to pay off the loan, then do it again with something even more ambitious.

Here are some examples:

When he was only 21, running “Virgin Records(ˈrekərd) and Tapes(tāp)”, his little record shop in Notting Hill, he thought what rock stars needed was a big, comfortable house in the country where a band could come and stay for weeks at a time and record whenever they felt like it. So he drove around the countryside, looking at ads, found a 15-bedroom manor(ˈmanər) that had been on the market a long time, and was able to make a great deal for £30k. He had no money himself, but borrowed a little from his family, then showed the bank his business receipts(rəˈsēt) and got a loan. He turned it into a successful recording(rəˈkôrdiNG) studio.

So here I am reading this, impressed but confused.

I’m frugal(ˈfro͞oɡəl). I avoid debt. I save most of my income, and never spend more than I earn. Because of this, I’m comfortable. Is this the wrong approach?

Could it actually help to be desperate? Could that drive us to new heights, out of necessity(nəˈsesədē)?

On the other hand, haven’t we all seen smart people do dumb things when desperate, like signing bad deals or stealing(stēl)?

So what’s the difference?

I don’t know the answer. Do you have any ideas? I’ll gather some ideas from the comments(ˈkäment) and share the collective answer to this tomorrow.