“I’m not sure it’s ever going to be right,” he tells me. He’s spent the last few minutes telling me about a project that is very important to him. A project he’s as passionate about as anything he’s done in a long time. I ask some questions to make sure I’m seeing and hearing things as they truly are. One of the first things I want to know is how far along he is in the project. That’s when I get a reality check.
He says, “Oh, we haven’t launched it yet.” I press a bit more asking him to describe what has been done so far. He rambles on about planning sessions, timelines established and a host of other details that I’m assuming are important, but certainly not vital to launching because…well, because they’ve not yet launched. So how important could they be? 😉
“When do you think you’ll be ready to start?” I ask. Now he’s repeating himself. “I just don’t know if we’re ever going to be able to get it squared away. Not at this rate.”
We’re about 10 minutes into the conversation. Enough already. I hit LAUNCH and thus begins my mini-sermon on taking something from start to profit (profit could be in dollars, productivity or anything else one deems valuable or important).
This movie is played out daily in every organization of any size. People stuck in planning mode. It’s like a person going target shooting and getting stuck in ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim mode. What’s the point in going target shooting if you never pull the trigger? Seems foolish, but we don’t feel foolish because we fool ourselves into thinking that planning is doing. Well, kinda sorta, but not really.
Time for a reality check.
The reality is that we learn by doing. Okay, we learn MORE by doing. We certainly learn better (more deeply) by DOING.
Let’s be practical. And real.
Soldiers preparing to go into combat learn by training, practice and lots of repetition. Ditto for pilots and anybody else who is about to engage in life and death situations. The stakes determine the level of preparation. Rightfully so.
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that whatever you’re planning to do isn’t going to put anybody’s life at risk. If so, then plan away. Get it as right as you can. Test it. Test it some more. Then launch.
For all the rest of us, we’re likely going to be way ahead of the game if we have plans that hit 70% on our confidence meter. Sometimes anything north of 50% may be sufficient. Again, the stakes determine the requirements.
Speed doesn’t mean reckless.
Launch speed matters. The faster you start, the faster you can fix. The faster you fix, the more success you experience. It’s a formula that works.
My conversation partner ultimately had to acknowledge that weeks and months of planning, planning, and planning hadn’t brought the launch date any closer. Mostly, it had been a major waste of time and effort whose aim was directed at making people feel better. More confident to start. And it hadn’t worked. Instead, it had fostered timidity. The ongoing striving to make it “just right.”
The team was stuck but didn’t know it.
We learn fastest by pulling the trigger. How else can we tell if our aim is off?
Ready, aim, fire. Yes, by all means, prepare and plan. That’s the whole ready and aim part. Give yourself the best chance to hit what you’re aiming at – the target. Keep your eyes on the target as you pull the trigger. Won’t do you any good to watch the target unless you do though – pull the trigger, that is!
Now, fix your aim. Did you hit the target on the first shot? Great! Now shoot again, and again and again. As long as you’re hitting the target, keep shooting.
If your aim is off, fix it. Adjust. Correct it. Pull the trigger again.
Rinse and repeat.
Where is the growth? Where is the real fixing happening?
After you pull the trigger. Only then.
Everything else is just hypothetical until you pull the trigger. Planning and all the other ready, aim stuff you think is so important is largely “here’s what we think will happen” or “here’s what we want to happen.” Pulling the trigger is our reality check. It’s how we find out if our theories are true or not. It’s how we figure out what adjustments to make so we can find success.
The problem is plans don’t have to fail.
We can stay in planning mode and never find out if we’re right. We can just assume we’re right and get stuck in the endless loop tape of preparing, planning and planning some more. Who cares why? Fear. Perfectionism. What difference does it make? Failure to DO SOMETHING is failure, period.
Risk versus reward. If pulling the trigger has an extraordinarily high price, then do the work to get it as right as you can. If the price is too high, you may want to figure something else out. Don’t even take the shot if you don’t want to. That’s okay, too.
But the game is made of taking shots. Pulling the trigger is where achievement and success are found. If you’re not able to pull the trigger then you have to figure out why. Why are we putting this off? What are we hoping to improve by all this preparation and planning? You’re either in it to win it, or you’re not.
Get going. Fix it as you go. It’ll accelerate learning and growth. And you’ll figure out how to win, or you’ll figure out you can’t. Either way, you’ll win.
Be well. Do good. Grow great!