“Get out of Your Head and Get into Action”
These were the words I heard repeatedly during the entrepreneurial training I undertook at the beginning of my journey with Funosophy, the consulting firm I founded in 2000 and led for 16 years. To achieve our dream, or any big daunting goal, these are words to live by.
So often as we contemplate a big goal, we think about it a lot. We ruminate over it and try to get it “figured out” before we pull the trigger—after all, if its big, that means its inherently risky. Unfortunately, that approach just keeps us stuck in place…we’re not making any progress IRL.
So, this sounds all well and good but how do we break through our natural inertia to achieve something big and important? Borrowing a phrase from Tech Deck, a fun finger board brand I worked on at Spin Master:
Start Small, Go Big.
Get it out of your head and onto paper:
· Make a list of the reasons why you want to pursue this dream
· Make a list of all your strengths and skills that will help you succeed
· Make a list of the obstacles you anticipate
· Make a list of competition to research
· Make a list of people to email/call for advice or input
· Make a list of reading material to consume etc. etc.
Take the swiss cheese approach:
I learned this at the beginning of may career at P&G. Imagine a big daunting project as a slice of cheese. Then start poking holes into it wherever it feels easiest to act. Start with the low hanging fruit. Give up a methodical approach in favor of just getting started. Do that competitive research. Make that call. As the holes get more plentiful, you will see how much progress you’re making, which in turn creates momentum.
Have a high stakes conversation as soon as possible.
I have worked with many entrepreneurs (and would-be entrepreneurs) as a consultant or mentor. I started noticing a pattern…most people line up many conversations with the goal of getting input. That is helpful, of course. However, the way to truly pressure-test your idea so you can start figuring out what is necessary for it to succeed is to have a conversation with someone who is in a position to say “yes” or “no.” It could be a buyer, a distributor, a publisher, an agent, etc. If you’re in a company, it could be your boss or the head of sales or other key stakeholder whose support you will need. In other words, it’s a pitch. While you open yourself up to rejection, you will learn much more quickly what is necessary to advance your cause.
Set a deadline.
Here’s a quote attributed to Robert Herjavec: A dream is a goal without a deadline. Deadlines call us forth, light a fire under our feet. Without a deadline, we can meander along for years…identify your first milestone, whatever it may be, and set a deadline.
Give yourself grace.
I’ve been told, and have oft repeated, 90% of the fuel it takes to get to the moon is used during lift-off.