Everybody who has ever taken a shower has had an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it that makes a difference.
Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari.
I recently did some coaching at a entrepreneurial mastermind retreat. It was two and a half days at a beautiful resort in the Sonoma wine country, locked in a room with 17 really sharp business owners from around the world.
As you can imagine in such a relaxed setting, the conversations were rich and stimulating; new ideas and insights were buzzing around the room. It was one of those creative environments where everything seems like its possible and the world is on your side.
At the closing dinner one of the participants asked me what I thought the key was to executing on all the great ideas they had come up with.
I offered that even though this was a room full of entrepreneurs, there’s still a curve.
Roughly 20% of the attendees will take no action, the event will live for them at the level of having had some great ideas that maybe one day they’ll get around to. 60% will take some action but not enough sustained action to create a breakthrough result. 20% will begin to take action as soon as they get back home, and some will be taking action before they’ve even got to the airport for the flight home.
If you were at that conference which group would you be in? … and if you don’t like your answer, here’s some distinctions you can use next time you see a new possibility and you want to compress the time it takes to make it a reality.
Move from insight to commitment.
Get the valuable new insight out of your head and into the world in the form of a commitment. Think of JFK’s famous declaration “We will put a man on the moon by the end of the decade” … that set in motion a whole series of actions that needed to be taken to make that vision a reality. Kennedy put himself and the nation on the clock. When you move your insight to “We will open the Boston office by 12/31” you’re now living in a new world where fresh actions will reveal themselves for you to take.
The importance of Monday morning.
It’s my favorite time after a conference or some other rapid learning activity. It’s really where the rubber meets the road, so make sure your schedule is clear. The brilliant insight you generated in the warm glow of like minded and supportive people at a conference becomes the stale “goal” you can barely remember creating a week later. We’ve all done it. You combat this phenomenon by immediately carving out time to take specific action on the new possibility you just created.
Take Physical/Visible actions.
As a coach I often say my role is to help my client dream as big as they possibly can about something thats important to them, and then help them see what’s the smallest action they could take in service of that goal. And in the world of taking action, 90% of what needs to happen to move your possibility forward will usually come from one of these:
1. Call someone.
2. Email someone.
3. Meet someone.
Even the biggest project, like putting a man on the moon, still begins with “Call Bob in Houston and see if he has a rocket available” or “Meet with Jennifer to nail down funding”.
There’s never a “right” time to take action.
So you might as well do it now. Don’t overthink it, don’t plan it to death and don’t rely on being inspired in some future reality. Savvy leaders know they can begin to take action and course correct along the way. You can even alter the famous Nike slogan to “Just do It Now” … or the simpler but more profane JFDI.
What happens if you wait? …
Literally, nothing. As my wife, the wise and lovely Jeanine reminded me last week – if you don’t take action after you see something new then the view remains the same.