Excerpted from the book on mindful business management, Business Black Belt.
“You know exactly what to do.
You just don’t do it fast enough.”
~ Robert Petersen, CFI, Flight Instructor
You really do know what to do…
One afternoon I was flying my airplane home with my instructor. As we flew into the San Francisco Bay Area from over the eastern foothills, I was just sitting there enjoying the scenery. As airplanes are wont to do, it started to bank slightly to the left. I just sat there going along with it. Left uncorrected, this situation could have turned into a problem. Eventually, my instructor asked if I was going to do anything about it. I casually leveled the wings and got us pointed more favorably in the direction we needed to go.
He said, “You know exactly what to. You just don’t do it fast enough.” I responded, “That’s the story of my life.” And, as I heard myself say that, I thought of a number of places where that was indeed true. Could I correct them as easily and quickly? I could. There was no more information or a better time I could wait for. I just needed to make the move. I went back to the office and let a difficult employee go. I had been agonizing for months about doing this and so had everyone else. I was just watching the scenery, but taking no action. Who was I waiting for to tell me to act? We were all relieved when I finally leveled the company’s wings.
Sometimes you can wait for a harmonic convergence (when all the planets align) where every aspect of a situation is perfect and the situation allows for easy correction. Usually, the situation will only get worse until you do something. Most of the time; however, you cannot wait for the circumstances to conveniently make it easy for you to act. Perhaps you’d like something or someone else to blame, but to be most effective, you must act out of your own free will with the knowledge and experience you already have. (Let someone go because you know to do it — why wait for them to give you another reason to justify your action?)
I would rather screw-up than stand still
This isn’t to say that you want to leap in and make a mess, but the action you do take sets up the next opportunity. Waiting and seeing does little to forward any action in your favor. If you are uncertain, then take very small steps and measure what happens. Test. If you goof, it won’t cost much. We’ve tried a number of things — make a package and go show retailers for feedback, run a small ad to see if anybody responds, before mailing 100,000 pieces, test 10,000 names, etc. With any decision, see if you can engineer a fair test. The cost of inaction can be far more expensive than the test made to gather data… at least you did something and that has learning value as well as power in repositioning you for your next move.
“Just you trust yourself,
then you will know how to live.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet and playwright
You’re already motivated
I do know exactly what to do next. I think you do, too. You don’t have to do a hundred things next, just one thing at a time. Look and listen for the messages. Babe Ruth is famous for the 700+ home runs he hit; but he also struck out more than 1,300 times. The idea is to get up and take a swing at the ball as many times as you can. And that means using what you do know, trying things out, learning from the results – and keeping going.
Business Black Belt Notes
- You already know what you need to do; just do it.
- Sometimes you need to take the action to compel the next thing to happen.
- Learn and be more successful the next time out, but get out again soon. And again.
- Trust yourself—your gut feelings—look for outside input, but don’t keep waiting for outside validation for everything you do.
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