“I’ve got the next billion dollar business idea!”
You’ve probably heard someone say this before, or maybe this statement has even come out your own mouth.
Why is it that almost everyone claims to have the next big idea but only a small group of people have the courage and audacity to start something new?
To say something is very low risk and safe.
You may even get a ego boost if people agree with you. It’s another thing all together to go out and start something. To make a start exposes us to the world and opens our work to criticism.
It is fundamentally this fear that stops us from being bold that stops us from taking action. We fear what others will think and say. We are afraid that the our own self image will be tainted in the event of failure.
Its much safer to say things than it is to go out and try things. It’s also much easier to give ourselves the satisfaction of believing that if we went out and took action that we would succeed than it actually is to just give it a try
We don’t know and nether does anyone else.
The only true indicator of success is reality.
The unpredictability of the real world frightens us and keeps us locked in a prism of self made excuses.
Those who are able to ignore their own fears and the fears of others are the ones that start things. The creatives that are bold are the only ones who give themselves permission to start and thus allowing themselves the opportunity to succeed.
Everybody else, just self-sabotages their own success.
“The richest and greatest place on Earth is the graveyard. It’s full of people who never acted on their dreams, because they were too shy and too comfortable, their dreams are buried with them. It contains projects that have never been done, books that have never been written, ideas that have never been shared and songs that haven’t been heard.” – Les Brown
Procrastination isn’t something that you catch like a cold, it is a response to fear. Fear in the form of resistance is created by our need for certainty, safety and comfort.
So how do you break the cycle of fear?
How do you make the shift from someone who talks about things to someone who goes and acts on their ideas?
Think of how your life would be different today if you’d gone out and tried all your ideas…
Now, let me ask you something.
How times have you seen ideas that you sat on, waited on and never started, later turn into someone else’s product or service?
It’s painful to think about, but by reflecting on this harsh reality we can say that it is only a small part of success to have an idea to create something new. However, the struggle is not in the idea it is in the process of overcoming the fear to start, then beating your own resistance to complete it and finally dealing with the fear that someone might criticise your work in order to get it out there.
With so many internal battles required to produce creative projects it’s no wonder that we find it easier to talk about them than to start take action towards achieve those visions. Breaking this cycle of fear is something we must learn if we wish to produce results. In this post you’ll learn the method startup founders use to create and ship projects. Because you must realise that your passion project will never turn into anything more unless you are willing to start, ship and turn pro.
Start it. Ship it. Repeat.
“The challenge, it turns out, isn’t in perfecting your ability to know when to start and when to stand by. The challenge is getting into the habit of starting.” – Seth Godin
If you wish to succeed in making a lasting impact in the world you must learn to overcome the fears surrounding the act of starting creative projects and make a habit of starting and shipping your ideas. These fears can come in many shapes and sizes. The skill is being able to identify fear before it stops you.
You’ll need to learn to identify these key fears…
- Fear of success: the fear that we are not worthy of success. You must believe in yourself in order to take action.
- Rationalisation: beware of the excuses you make in your mind of why things happen a certain way.
- Self medication: beware of when you feel the desire to heal yourself or taking a break. This can often come from a place of fear rather than truth.
- Victimhood: do not identify with your failures.
- Self-doubt: beware of self-sabotage, when you unconsciously act in particular ways to reduce your ability to succeed.
Creativity and Tech
Technology projects may not seem to be on the creative scale, but in fact when you look closer, they are. Technology is defined as ‘the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry’. Although the scientific knowledge is somewhat fixed, the application part of this definition is where creativity comes into play.
Innovation has this creative aspect deeply ingrained. Successful innovators have become comfortable with starting things. They have learnt that the rewards they desire come from getting started and shipping the result. The most innovative companies such as Google have taken this mindset an continue to take new ideas make them into new products. They do this over and over again. Starting, finishing and shipping new ideas.
Do you think it’s any harder for us to start new creative projects?
Sure, companies like google have more resources at their disposal, but we often have enough time and resources to start something new, even if it’s only a small project.
In the Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art he discusses the resistance we all face when starting and completing creative works, specifically though he lists a number of ways to make the shift from having an amateur’s mindset to work to having a pro mindset.
Steven Pressfield’s tips for Going Pro!
- Show up everyday
- Show up no matter what
- Stay on the job all day
- Commit over the long haul
- The stakes are high and real: this means that we must have sense of urgency with our work.
- We accept remuneration for our labor: we work for money and are focused on results
- We do not over identify with our work: we must be willing to change our work based on feedback of relevant sources
- We master the technique of our work
- We have a sense of humour about our work
- We receive praise or blame in the real world: we expose ourselves to external feedback.
Turning pro is an essential component of becoming a innovator. We must learn to take ideas and take them seriously if we wish to be someone who doesn’t talk about great ideas but instead goes out executes to make them into a reality.
Personally my biggest struggle is getting starting and getting in the flow. Once I finally get started my enthusiasm takes over and I am able to focus and execute. I do my best to apply the rules of turning pro. I like to work long and hard and I am always making self created deadlines. This is so important, creating a sense of urgency will force you to ship things rather than have ideas that are idling in neutral. You must force yourself to push through the stages of half completion and finish things.
If your passion project has been put on hold, and you know that it is something worth while you must create a sense of urgency and complete the thing. Get it done. Test it and then make improvements. We like to focus on perfection as if great works of art are something that are created in a vacuum. Think of perfection is like a mathematical limit it can only be approached and never entirely achieved. Your best way to move towards perfection is to monitor your results and make appropriate changes from valid feedback.
Some Other thoughts…
Here is what some some successful founders are saying about taking projects seriously.
“I think being an entrepreneur at heart takes away all the personal resistance of starting a company or a creative work. Logic is what makes you resistant or cautious about taking the risk. I think real entrepreneurs are the people who are not afraid of failure at all. They embrace it. They approach it like: Well, we tried, didn’t work.. but we learned this and that, soooo what’s next? We all learned and evolved through our past failures. When you look at failure as a huge step towards the success you envision, then you would never hesitate to take the next big risk.” - Max Aram, Co-founder and CEO at Pick My Solar
“For me, I tend to look too much at the payoff of a new project. Why spend time on something when it might not get me any return? I think this attitude is fairly common. But when it comes to creativity, you need to do things without having any idea what the outcome will be. Often, this means winding up with absolutely nothing. And this has happened with many of history’s great thinkers, like Einstein. Didn’t he spend years in a futile search for a unified field theory? But when a project does turn out to be a winner, it can be big…” – Tom Taulli, Serial Tech Entrepreneur and Silicon Valley Investor.
“So much of what we do just comes from habit. Even how we respond to problems is often just a habit that we developed as young kids. Almost anytime you try to change a habit, there’s some kind of personal resistance. As such, going from doing other things to starting a creative problem throws up some natural resistance. Furthermore, all of us are afraid of failing. When we consider taking on a creative project, we know that it’s not easy to stand out and that a lot of people are eager to criticize. So, we are often afraid to give it a shot and essentially “be laughed at” or “boring.” The solution to both, is to just do it. Just jump in and give it ago. And remember that the more you do something, the better you become at it.” - Zachary Shahan, Serial Entrepreneur, and Director of Cleantechnica.
“The biggest personal resistance I faced was self doubt. Thinking that I might not be smart enough, or experienced enough, or clever enough to start a company. Knowing that when all was said and done, even though failure is accepted in America, I would still see myself as a failure. This was the biggest challenge to get over. I got over this fear when we got an offer to join a Startup Accelerator. We did not end up joining the accelerator but it gave us the spirit and the confidence to go at it alone. ” – Cole Hershkowitz, CEO and Co-Founder of Chai Energy.
“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” - Elon Musk, CEO Telsa/SpaceX and Co-Founder of Paypal
Waiting for the perfect day
So don’t worry whether you have everything in place today in order to get started. Most of the time you have more than you need and what is holding you back is not limited time or resources, what really holds us back is our self created resistance. The rationalisations we tell our selves of why now is now the right time to get started. Now is the perfect time to get started. Don’t wait for the perfect day. If your project is important enough to you then you’ll find a way.