To execute is to put to death.
THAT’S THE KILLER QUESTION: What do you need to murder in your life that’s preventing you from taking action?
That annoying neighbor whose home cooking smells like hot trash?
Regardless of your situation, everyone can benefit from a few execution lessons.
Here: Your first session is on the house.
1. Finished is the new perfect. Perfect is boring anyway. As Mary Poppins taught us, “Enough is as good as a feast.” That’s your first execution lesson: To declare it done, throw your arms up in the air and say, “The hay is in the barn.”
Kind of like that night senior year when you were cramming for your calculus exam – somewhere around midnight while all your friends were getting smashed at Skipper’s – and you reached the point of diminishing returns. “If I don’t know it now, I’ll never know it,” you said.
So you packed up, walked home and got a good night’s sleep. Then you went to class the next day and made those derivatives your bitch. Way to go.
Remember: You’re the only one waiting for you to get everything right. Eighty percent is enough. Trust your resources. Nobody is going to notice the final twenty anyway. Did you postpone (again!) because you’re sweating something irrelevant?
2. Declare a stern deadline of no more. The hardest part about being an author is cutting. Deleting chapters that are brilliant but unnecessary. After twelve books in eight years, I still feel physical pain in my stomach every time I do it.
But that’s the secret: I wouldn’t even have this many books published at the age of thirty if I trapped myself in the eternal loop of pointless editing like every other author. Instead, I give myself “no more deadlines.” For example, “After the date of June 1, I will not add or subtract anything from this book.”
That’s the only way to get it done. That’s the only way to ship.
And yes, I find one or two typos in every book I write. But, in the words of Larry Winget, bestselling author of more than thirty books, “My crap is better than your nothing.” Are you stalling a product that, by the time it’s perfect and ready, some other chump company will have already finished, sold and shipped their version of it?
3. Exorcise falsehoods. End the barrage of lies. Be honest with yourself about these three questions: Are you making something useful or just making something? Are you creating problems you don’t have yet just to feel in control? Are you wasting your money solving an imaginary problem beautifully?
If so, you may be foreclosing on your own good efforts. Truth is: Execution is priceless; but when you’re miles away from meaningful work, it’s about as valuable as a used MC Hammer album. Does what you’re doing – right now – matter?
4. Establish real-world momentum. In physics class, you learned that momentum (mass times velocity) means moving without deliberate acceleration. In short: Moving, but only by using what you already have. Alex J. Mann, who blogged a series of articles on execution had this to say:
“Momentum doesn’t hit when you first edge off the starting line. But it begins to creep in when you start moving against the wind towards the unknown horizon. This is why momentum is so vital to a solid execution strategy. It proves one thing: that you are capable of getting things done with very little.”
My suggestion is to constantly ask the ultimately movement value question: Now that I have this, what else does this make possible?
5. Ship now, fix later, perfect never and bleed always. That’s the execution process for my creative practice. What’s yours? While you’re thinking about that, let’s turn to Derek Sivers of CD Baby for executional insight:
“Make it. Even if you don’t have the massive programming skill available, make a super lo-fi or no-fi version. Just get started with a couple friends and volunteers. It’s so much more impressive to hear someone say, ‘There’s this thing that I’ve started doing that a lot of people seem to like.’”
What can you do in the first half of the day to demonstrate focus and unstoppable action?
6. Find a way to start small. If it’s gathering dust, it’s bleeding money. Try this: Even if you can’t go the whole hog immediately, execute a small component of your idea early. Use social media platforms as testing ground. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that nobody even notices the minor flaws you’re losing sleep over. And know that the smaller and earlier you do it, the quicker and easier it is to hide your mistakes.
Besides, what’s worse: Hitting bumps in the road that project you forward, or go along sailing smoothly without realizing you’re actually standing still or worse, going backward?
Remember: Screwing up quietly beats sitting around loudly. As I learned in The Cult of Done Manifesto, “Failure counts as done, and so do mistakes.” Just admit it: You’re never really ready. Start small and win big. Will you let action eclipse excuse?
7. You don’t need more ideas. As a writer, public speaker and consultant, this is a huge problem for me. Especially since my idea inventory is slowly approaching 75,000 strong. I know. I’m like a chocoholic, but for creativity. Sometimes I get so entrenched in the joy of collecting and organizing ideas that I forget to do anything with them.
Whoops. Too bad I didn’t learn the secret until a few years ago. It simple: While ideas set the wheel in motion, execution is where the rubber meets the road. Your challenge is to regularly ask the question: When is it time to stop creating and start judging?
8. Action isn’t an afterthought. Engineer action into every idea you have. Otherwise they’re going to remain nouns in a marketplace where customers only buy verbs.
Incidentally, did you know the word “execution” has the same Latin derivative as the word “sequel”? Interesting. Maybe that’s what it means to execute – to make a sequel. After all, each experience contains the value of helping us decide what to do next. How are you entering into each endeavor with an attitude of action?
9. Jealousy is a waste of time. If someone else executes faster than you, it’s not because you’re incompetent or complacent – it’s because they have more resources at their disposal. Relax. Stop projecting. Stop resenting. Instead, focus on what’s standing in the way of accomplishing similar results.
For example: Creating busywork to avoid the important isn’t execution – that’s procrastination. Are you guilt of that? What about this: Remaining dangerously committed to not losing money is the enemy of execution. How are you in that department?
Remember: Be very careful about the expectations you set for yourself. Are you using your abilities constructively, or is your drive and ambition directed to unproductive and purely self-seeking channels?
REMEMBER: Your ability is only as good as its execution.
Ideas aren’t meant to stay ideas.
Don’t leave them that way.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Will your idea stay a pipe dream or become a dream come true?
LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "49 Ways to become an Idea Powerhouse," send an email to me, and I'll send you the list for free!
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.
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Thursday, June 24, 2010
To execute is to put to death.