Preparation, preparation, preparation. Is it really the key to success or is it actually holding you back from success?
As the great Abe Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to cut down a tree and I’ll spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
I sort of agree with Abe. You see, I think people take preparation to the extreme which is counterproductive.
Think back to a time you had a project that you craved the result. You knew if it happened, everything would change in your business and life. You might have made an outline, sketched it on a whiteboard, and took tons of notes.
If you really prepared, you probably even bought a few courses or talked with people who are already doing it. But then, three to six months go by and you realize you haven’t made any progress at all. Trust me, I get it.
But have you asked yourself, why don’t you take action?
My guess is that you overly prepared and didn’t take any action. If this sounds familiar don’t feel bad. I’ve been there more times than I care to remember.
Look, it’s easy to set a big goal but achieving it is another story. The hardest part is actually taking the first step to turn your dream into a reality.
Usually, after you a set a huge goal, you realize the size and work required to complete the goal. Then, doubt enters your mind. The fear of looking stupid creeps into your brain. You begin to doubt if it’s even possible.
As Suzy Kassem said, “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.”
Be Careful About Overpreparing
Complexity is the enemy of execution. If you have a big goal or project you want to complete, don’t focus too much on the end goal. Otherwise, it’s easy to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and become paralyzed with fear. This leads to never taking action in the first place.
Instead of feeling overwhelmed, chunk it down with creating small steps that will help you achieve the goal. Achieving these goals will build confidence and momentum.
As the great Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
This allows you to make progress and get satisfaction each time you complete a mini goal. Each mini goal completed also releases the feel-good chemical dopamine which motivates you to keep going.
So why do you and so many others over prepare in the first place?
My guess, the fear of looking stupid.
Understand It’s Okay to Look Stupid
So many people want the convenience of transformation without the inconvenience of failure along the way. It’s impossible to get great at anything without failing.
Failing is part of the process of success. As the legendary motivational speaker Les Brown said, “You have to fail your way to success.”
Believe it or not, the great’s at anything once looked stupid. Steve Jobs looked like a master on stage when he unveiled new Apple products. But earlier in his career, he used to get physically sick before he went on TV for a small interview.
Mel Robbins, author of the best-seller 5-Second Rule and one of the most successful speakers in the world still overcomes doubt. She has said she still gets nervous and has butterflies before every speech. Mel, Steve, and so many other great entrepreneurs knew that looking stupid might happen to achieve big goals.
The need to look perfect is all about you. It’s your unhealthy need for approval and the fear of failure. But this fear can hold you back from achieving greatness. To overcome this fear you need to create deadlines for your short-term tasks.
Why You Need a Deadline
Sometimes, you need to raise the stakes and challenge yourself to get things done. Have you ever noticed that when there is a firm deadline (i.e., leaving for a vacation) to get things done you always find a way?
The same goes for your goals and dreams. They must have a deadline, otherwise, you will suffer from Parkinson’s law. This basically says, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” If you don’t have a deadline for projects then your to-do list will be never-ending and continue to drag on forever.
Craig Ballantyne talks about this in the bestseller, “The Perfect Day Formula.” He says,
“Deadlines force you to focus and take the actions you need to take in order to achieve your big goals and dreams. There is nothing as powerful as the urgency of a deadline — set with meaningful consequences — to finally get you to take action.”
Quantity Produces Quality
Ultimately, the fear of looking stupid has held a lot of great people back. This fear might hold you back from releasing a video, course or blog post because it’s not “perfect.”
You might feel like you have to wait until it’s absolutely perfect to release it but that’s often times not the case. As Genius Network creator Joe Polish said, “It is better to be prolific than perfect.” History shows that he’s 100% right.
Picasso created thousands of pieces of art but few are considered to be his truly great work. Beethoven wrote over 650 songs yet only five are considered his best. Edison had 1,900 patents yet most of us only know him for the light bulb.
The point is that quantity always leads to quality. You have to get started to become great. Quit worrying about what other people think before you release your work. The only person that needs to approve of your content is you, no one else.
If you keep a consistent schedule and continue to produce high-quality content, you’re going to win eventually. But you have to keep producing and promoting on a consistent basis.
Consistency builds trust with your audience before you offer anything. And the more trust, the more likely they are to buy from you.
As the great Tony Robbins said, “The path to success is to take massive, determined action.”
Don’t let your need to be perfect cause you to not release your best work. Stop overthinking and start taking action. Action is the most important part of success in any business. Action cures perfectionism and creates clarity for your future.
Remember, the more content you produce the more likely it is to 10X your business. Don’t let your best work go unheard or unread because you thought you might look stupid. Instead, leave it all out there, learn, grow and repeat.