Matchers vs Mismatchers

Steve Pavlina:

When I do creative projects today, I start with matcher mode. I work through the purpose and vision. I get enthusiastic about the results that will be generated. I think about the positive ripples. I get aligned with doing the project. If I share the idea, I prefer to share it with matchers, so they can help me better understand the idea’s potential.

When the idea is a bit more developed, I turn to the practical side. I identify the risks and list them out one by one. I look at the potential downsides. I consider problems that may arise and how to address them.

Matcher mode is faster. Mismatcher mode is slower. When I want to speed up and go faster, I shift into matcher mode. When I feel uncertain about the risks, I downshift into mismatcher mode and work through more details in advance.


What problems don’t really matter much even if they happen? What problems could you fix later if they happened? What problems would be relatively easy to pre-solve or prevent if you just think them through?

Also think about the opportunity side: What opportunities are you delaying or at risk of missing because you’re fussing over potential problems? How will you feel if someone else beats you to the punch because you moved too slowly? Are you really being cautious… or merely sluggish?


It’s common to see people pointing to problems as roadblocks. How many times have we heard people mention these or similar problems as reasons they can’t move forward in some area?

  • I can’t afford it.
  • I don’t have the time.
  • My family won’t let me.
  • I live with my parents.
  • I don’t have the skills.

If you lean too heavily on mismatcher mode, problems tend to become excuses for inaction. The existence of a problem is all you need to put the brakes on.

If you can lean towards matcher mode though, then problems can be seen as hidden opportunities, including all of the problems listed above. True matchers are advancing in all of these situations.


Remember these final rules of thumb:

  • Shift into matcher mode when you want to go faster (or if you sense that progress has been too slow or nonexistent).
  • Shift into mismatcher mode when you want to be more cautious (or if you sense that progress has been too chaotic, unstable, or stressful).

The key is to apply these modes of thinking at different times, so they don’t interfere with each other.

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