In an excerpt from his book, Little Bets, Peter Sims describes how Chris Rock became such a popular comedian. If you thought that comedians were naturally funny, this article will dispel those thoughts. He made between 40 and 50 appearances at a small club near to where he lives, and worked through all his ideas, refining and further refining his material until it becomes the material he is famous for.

The article also says: “The staff of writers for the humor publication The Onion, known for its hilarious headlines, propose roughly 600 possibilities for 18 headlines each week, a 3% success rate”. There’s two lessons from this. First as a direct, you have to learn the ‘it’s not a good idea till it’s a good idea’. Which means, you can have the greatest idea in the world, but unless and until your boss things it’s a good idea, there’s no point in becoming attached to it. Bosses dictate what we spend company resources (including our time) on.

And second, as a boss, give your directs time. Give them a break. No-one comes up with competition-killing ideas every week. No-one writes perfect reports every week. If there’s talent there, nuture it and allow it to bloom. Remember, if the success rate is above 3%, you’re doing better than the Onion.