Projects are Hydras

What is a Hydra? 

Hydra is a many-headed serpentine water monster in Greek and Roman mythology. The oldest images of the monster are found on a pair of bronze fibulae dating to 700 BC
In How to Fight a Hydra, Josh Kaufman author of best-selling business books – argues that Hydras are similar to projects.


      • A multitude of writhing serpentine heads
      • Fearsome
      • Found in deep dark places. Beyond borders of known ordinary
      • Has rows of dagger-like teeth
      • Ugly stink, with an acrid stench

Courage means being afraid and acting anyway

Conditions of the fight:

      • If you cut one head, Hydra grows two heads instead. unless you burn the wound with a torch
      • Many opponents at the same time
      • Exhausting 
      • All rivals intent for your doom
      • You must go to Hydra. It will not come by itself

You can control:

      1. Your self / conduct yourself
      2. How you prepare
      3. How you manage your fears

You can’t control the outcomes. Our hero learned one essence of life – that the outcome of your actions and decisions is unknown.


      • Endurance and patience
      • Withstand fatigue and injury
      • Supporting your body
      • Stealth and careful planning – Decide a course of action
      • Exploration

The hero and his only companion (Horse) had a strict routine. The routine is comforting and saved energy of thinking.
His approach was to make valuable mistakes. Experiments that gave him useful information and helped him improve.


The metaphor “Projects are Hydras” is helpful and useful to approach projects in this complex, uncertain and dynamic world. For projects that contain substantial risk and demand sustained effort, require you to handle competing demands which are constantly changing that need good preparation. 
The best strategy is to focus to complete one critical task at a time. That’s what our mythical hero did, cutting off one head at a time and burning it with a torch.

Every time I’m tempted to complain about the difficulty and unfairness of life, I remind myself that I knew it was going to be hard before I left home, and that there is no victory without struggle.

I suppose this is the essence of adventuring. You know what you want, but the only way you can get it is to abandon what you know, set off into the world, and trust your preparation and skill to see you through to a good end.


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