There is No Holy Grail

Regardless of what you may have heard, there is no Holy Grail.

Now…we may never know if the the myth of the Holy Grail is real or not…but…looking for the “holy grail’ in your life  is a waste of time.

I run across a lot of folks looking for that holy grail. They are looking for the perfect process, perfect system, perfect strategy. They are looking for the thing that will ‘turn their life around’.

I see a lot of this type of thinking in business. Some examples that I recall from my career:

  • Email is the holy grail for marketing.
  • E-commerce is the holy grail for business
  • Virtualization is the holy grail for IT.
  • The balanced scorecard is the holy grail for Operations.
  • Social media is the holy grail for marketing.
  • Certified Project Managers are the holy grail for project success.
  • The Cloud is the holy grail for IT.
  • Social Business is the holy grail for business.

Notice a pattern here?

I could take just about any two phrases and wrap them in a sentence…and probably make good money selling that new sentence as a consultant. Here’s the template:

_________ is/are the holy grail for _______________.

I’m thinking about trademarking that. :)

The idea of a “holy grail” is one we all want to believe in.

The mega-millions lottery this past weekend is a great example…you couldn’t do anything without running across someone talking about what they will do when they win ‘all that money’.  Its great to wish and dream…but the odds of winning were 175 million to 1.  Those are big odds to overcome.

Now…I’ll be the first to admit I spent a few minutes dreaming about winning the lottery and being a bazillionaire. It would be nice, no?  But…my practical side came back fairly quick and I went about my day.

The “holy grail” doesn’t exist for 99.999% of people. Sure there are some that are lucky…but that luck isn’t what you should be looking for.

Stop looking for the holy grail. There is no holy grail in life, business nor in IT.

At the end of the day, its all about doing the work. Getting better at the work and doing the work some more. And then doing the work some more.

Image Credit: Holy Grail By Eddi van W. on flikcr

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About Eric D. Brown, D.Sc.

Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. is a data scientist, technology consultant and entrepreneur with an interest in using data and technology to solve problems. When not building cool things, Eric can be found outside with his camera(s) taking photographs of landscapes, nature and wildlife.
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Gary Drumm
12 years ago

Good stuff, as always, Eric.  I’m sharing with MANY social groups I belong to.  I think if more people would spend more of their time working, and less time looking for “the holy grail”, i.e. (IMHO) the easy way, they would be a lot more effective and probably come a lot closer to living the life they want to live. This applies to business and IT as well.  If companies spent more time doing things the right way stop cutting corners, chasing the holy grail illusion, then they be more profitable and more effective.  Thanks for the insight. 

Eric D. Brown
12 years ago
Reply to  Gary Drumm

Thanks Gary.

We see it way too often…people / companies spending their time chasing after that ‘one thing’ that will make the difference. That chasing is a waste of time most of the time.

Tim Constantine
Tim Constantine
12 years ago

Excellent.  Also, too often ideas for improvement get shot down just because they aren’t the holy grail.  “That won’t work because…” can kill a project faster than almost anything.  But, if you listen to what’s said after the “because” you can hear “it’s not a holy grail” – it’s not the PERFECT solution it won’t solve ALL of our problems.  Stop looking for the holy grail and start opening your eyes to opportunities to improve.

Eric D. Brown
12 years ago

Hi Tim –

nice thoughts…I’ve seen many projects go off the rails due to the search for the perfect solution.

Thanks for stopping by!


[…] What’s the next “Holy Grail” of whatever? According to Eric D. Brown, there isn’t one. I think he’s right: There is No Holy Grail […]