July 5, 2011
Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist and the father of modern physics, suggested that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
By definition, insanity is likened to extreme foolishness or irrationality. Insanity can take various forms. Arguably, in business, the highest form of insanity is the failure to execute.
Despite your perceived challenges, fears, setbacks or lack of ‘something’ that keeps you from getting things done, there are steps you can take to regain balance and cure the silent revenue killer. It starts with understanding the power of execution, performance and doing something successfully; using knowledge as distinguished from merely possessing it.
Why We Fail To Take Action
Why do we fail to carry out goals, projects or plans? More often than not the culprits are a lack of information, fear, misinformation or the failure to improve skill sets necessary to get the job done.
It starts with your entrepreneurial make-up. Generally speaking, you are a strategist, tactician or hybrid of the two.
The Strategist: A Visionary with Potential
If someone were to ask you what you want most in life and business, you could share a definitive answer. In fact, you are the mastermind of ideas.
But what if I were to ask, “What have you’ve done lately to make your master plan a reality?” Generally, this is where the dreamer’s road to execution takes a detour. “Well you see, I am really passionate about ‘X’ but I wouldn’t know how to start…”
Vision without execution is just hallucination.” Henry Ford
The Tactician: A Tactical Productivity Whiz
Are you an overly productive entrepreneur that is always busy doing something but never truly getting anything done? If I were to ask you to build a process or a system to meet specific goals, you could effortlessly design a solid plan of action and complete it.
But when asked what you want most in life and business you may follow-up with a deep pause followed by a blank stare. “I’m not really sure. I am still looking for my big idea…”
Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Sun Tzu
The strategist is a visionary – a creative and imaginative thinker. But a person that thinks so big at times is unable to think small (details). So, you may lack the knowledge of process and systematic execution needed to bring an idea to life and market.
In contrast the tactician is a planner. You have the ability to surgically (militaristically in some instances) and relentlessly drive a process to completion. The problem is that you may not possess a higher level vision.
Whether you are a strategist, tactician or both – I’ve found that strategies without tactics are dead in the water while tactics without a vision are ineffective and laborious. Both types of entrepreneurs fail to take action every day, simply because they are in dire need of what the other has.
The Strategist and the Tactician: Why We Need Each Other
Based on the examples above, you may view yourself as a strategic leader (Strategist), the do-er (Tactician) who is adept in planning or both. But all too often one has a ton of ideas and no action while the other is all action and no results.
Strategy is essential. However, without tactical planning an idea will always be … well, an ‘idea’ and nothing more.
In comparison, a doer without a definite vision will productively produce nothing for a very long time.
This is why the strategist needs a solid tactical process to move from idea to creation and the tactician needs to dig him or herself out of the details and seek higher ground.
How to Cure the Insanity and Get Things Done
Life hacking productivity tools are everywhere these days. But, online productivity tools and apps are helpful only when you recognize the processes and value behind them. If not, they are seemingly useless time wasters.
I recently stumbled upon David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done.” Allen, a productivity consultant, is the creator of, Getting Things Done (GTD), an organizational method based in easy to understand action steps.
Allen’s GTD method rests on the principle that a person needs to move tasks out of the mind by recording them externally. That way, the mind is freed from the job of remembering everything that needs to be done, and can concentrate on actually performing those tasks.”
Whether you prefer software (Thinking Rock) or a pen and pad, here are five basic GTD (modified) steps to help marry strategy with tactics and get things done.
1. Collect: Dump all your thoughts on a sheet of paper (or download the free software).
2. Process: For each thought, decide what you want to do with them,
Throw it away
Keep it as reference
Store it as a Goal
Put it on your Do ASAP list
Mark it as done
3. Organize: Start with the ‘Do ASAP list’ and plan your first project. Decide what you need in terms of resources, people and finances to complete the task. Don’t digress with thoughts of what you can’t do or don’t have; focus on needs and solutions.
4. Review: Review what you scribbled in your notepad and focus on the next and most important step, #5.
5. Do: Assess what you can personally do to get the project started (no matter how small the contribution may seem). Next, actively research and locate people that have the skill sets you need. Lastly get creative and brainstorm how you can fund big ideas with lean pockets. Most importantly, execute and carry the plan forth.
In the last step, the ‘do’ stage, you will run into contradictions, challenges and setbacks. Keep moving forward despite all of these things.
The Cure for Entrepreneurial Insanity
The cure for business insanity is simple. Assess where you are, identify the results you want, study those that have mastery over their results and apply common principals to produce results. Most importantly, do something different and then… expect results.
Several years ago during his commencement speech at Stanford University, Steve Jobs the co-founder and CEO of Apple, Inc. observed that,
It is easier to connect the dots when looking back.”
In retrospect, when you connect the dots, what has kept you from taking action?
Vision is not lazy, it does not groan “why me,” it stands quietly yet firmly and quietly affirms, “Why not me?”
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