This is another great question (like this one) that I was asked by someone recently that I thought I’d blog my answer to.
With so many ideas and exciting pursuits, how do you go about choosing the good ones and following through with ideas as opposed to just talking about them?
Focus is tough. And anyone that is passionate about their job – you ARE passionate about your job right? – is going to have a lot of ideas they want to pursue. Or ideas in their personal life they want to pursue. Often times, picking from the list and actually committing to it and knocking it out can be extremely difficult in the middle of a very active and full life.
My first reaction to this is that I’m not very good at this at all. For example, I’ve wanted to write a book for years now. I start it a few times a year, only to put it on the shelf and pick it back up again six months later. I have all sorts of notes and chapter ideas but I never get around to taking the time to finish it. Coincidentally, now I’m hoping that Hyperink lets me off the hook!
For that example, I think the reason I haven’t completed the book is because there is no pressure. No deadline. No consequence to not finishing it. People who want to lose weight have started doing things like tweeting their weight every day so that everyone following them sees it. Or social sharing everything they eat. Talk about the right kind of pressure to make sure you’re eating correctly!
I often credit the early success of growing my business to the pressure we felt when a huge project fell through. Below is an excerpt from a blog post I wrote a while back about the excuses that stop you from being great:
“I’ll do it tomorrow/next month/next year/etc”
This one is a killer. It’s so easy to put off the difficult things until a later date, which really never comes. Raj, Danny and I were “lucky” enough to be forced to commit to our business way back in 1999. Here is a snippet from our story:
In 1999, fate struck in the form of New Zealand, Choudhury’s latest destination. He had begun to establish relationships and convinced a company to fly out Hilimire, who had graduated and was currently living with his mother. “Our biggest project up to that point was like a $1,200 website,” said Hilimire, so when a contract worth more than five times that much was signed, the boys were more than thrilled.
Maybe it was time to move the company out of Mom’s basement.
Naturally, the next location for this growing company, originally called NBN Designs and later renamed Spunlogic, was LA Fitness. They even added a couple employees onboard. It appeared that from a dorm room to mom’s basement to New Zealand to a gym was the inevitable path to success, but they may have been too optimistic.
In January 2000, the New Zealand based company went out of business, leaving Hilimire and Spunlogic behind in the wake of its crash with no money.
“At the time it was the worst thing to happen,” Hilimire said. They had just signed a yearlong lease, added an employee, and Choudhury had ended his trip, but because of that it, “made us really go.”
If we hadn’t won that account, committed ourselves to the business completely and then subsequently lost the account, we may never have gotten around to dedicating ourselves enough to the business to ever be successful.
So my recommendation would be to pare down your list of initiatives to the ones (or one) you really want to accomplish. Then break down the steps that need to happen for you to accomplish it. And then find a way to put the right amount of pressure on yourself to get it done. That might sound too vanilla but I don’t think there is a secret tool to doing this. When does your house finally get really cleaned? When you’re hosting a party or event. It’s human nature.