We often feel as though things look like this: 360 degrees of choices. “What if I pick the wrong thing and then I’m headed in the wrong direction?”
But really, deciding where to start is the enemy of starting. The thing you pick doesn’t have to be the thing you do for the rest of your life. (Hint: it probably won’t be.) But you have no idea how the things you learn now will benefit what you end up doing in the future.
You can’t steer a parked car. Pivot as needed. Pick an option and go! Starting is progress. Indecision is the enemy.
— I’d love to know who wrote this. If you know the source please drop me a line and clue me in.
If we never started something knowing 100% how we were going to get it done, humankind wouldn’t have reached the moon, mapped the human genome, or climbed Mount Everest. Sometime the best way to do something is to just start and figure it out along the way. You might not be able to figure out the entire puzzle, but you can usually figure out where the next piece fits.
If you know what needs to be done next, even if that means ‘figure out how to do that part”, then that’s enough to get started.
Here’s the key: When I say “next step”, I mean what physical, tangible, visible action are you going to take? Are you going to pick up the phone and call somebody, or sketch out the design, or visualize what the deliverable / goal / accomplishment looks like and commit that paper? Are you going to cut, shape, fabricate a component? It’s shape model? A part? Are you going to have the contract reviewed by a lawyer, sign it, and hang your shingle out? Start a web page, order stock, arrange a photographer?
What are you going to do? What is the thing that is going to happen?
Here’s an exercise of for extra points: List your three biggest, or most important, projects. Then list the next step for each.
Peter Economy (yes, cool name for a business writer) describes a seven ways to create an extraordinary workplace. I totally agree with expressing gratitude, and the “frequency over size” idea is also great.
You could apply that one to measuring progress towards goals, giving feedback, and many other leadership activities.
Down at the Scout Hall we have a chart that lists the names of all the Scouts down the left side of the page, and all the badges they could potentially earn along the top. At the beginning of the year the new kids come in and they look at what the older ones have done. After a couple of years of this I can usually tell who’s going to last (they’re excited and asking all sorts of questions while figuring out which badge they’re going to earn first), and who’s there because their parents thought it would be a good idea and we probably won’t see them again after Christmas.
The chart gives us a clear, objective, and tangible means of measuring a Scout’s progress as they progress through the program. It compares Scouts to each other, is easily interpreted at a glance, and encourages a bit of the competitive spirit.