August 6, 2012 by Mike Lyles
In 1988, Nike launched an ad campaign which would become a common phrase used by the world for many years, even still today. The slogan was “Just Do It!“. Likely one of the most famous slogans by any company, everyone in the world would think of them when this statement was made.
Today, I want to discuss a similar but different term….”Just Start It!“.
I realized this while listening to someone at work talk about how we need to get a strategy in place, to build out our plan, and what steps we would take to get from point A to point B and to the final outcome. And someone made the statement, “Just get started – we’re wasting time”.
Then it hit me. It’s been said many times that Good is the Enemy of Great. We put off things today because we feel we don’t have the time to do it perfect. We delay for days, weeks, months, maybe even years, beginning something that we could simply just start now.
From a personal standpoint, I’m guilty as well. I have known for years that I wanted to begin writing, coaching, mentoring, and teaching others about leadership, management, setting personal goals, and personal & career growth. But I kept taking notes, writing in a journal all the things I could eventually someday put into a book. Everyone that knows me knew that I continuously stated “I will write a book someday”. However, nothing was ever produced other than incomplete goals and dreams. But I have now been interviewed and published in a magazine, I am going to be a speaker at a Testing Conference in October, and I have started a blog, right here on WordPress, which I hope will continue to move me to the goals I have set for myself.
What I have found from a personal standpoint, is that it’s so easy to procrastinate. I read a quote somewhere once that said “It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you are NOT working on what you supposed to be doing”. This is so true. Many of us will complete dozens of things unrelated to the truly important work that needs to be in progress. Stephen Covey notes in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that you have to focus on working on what is IMPORTANT and less on what is URGENT. Obviously, we have to get the URGENT + IMPORTANT work out of the way, but many times we focus on the things that are either URGENT + NOT IMPORTANT or NOT URGENT + NOT IMPORTANT and we fail to ever move to the true goals and aspirations for our lives.
My challenge to you, reader, is to get started TODAY. Most everyone has something they have wanted to accomplish. Something they feel is important for their lives, their career, their future. But it sits on the shelf and we think about it often but never take action. Stop waiting for that perfect opportunity to align, and get started on the little things that can move you step by step toward your ultimate goal. It’s been said “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. Begin taking those steps.
With that said, I’m a realist and I’m also a logical thinker. “Just Start It” doesn’t apply to every single thing in the world. For instance, if your goal is to be an airplane pilot, you obviously would not just jump on a plane, take the cockpit, and start flying. It would be disastrous. It would require you to take the training, learn the process, and then begin flying a plane. But even in this example, the first steps – taking the courses, getting instruction, learning the controls, educating yourself on aeronautics, is a simple way you can “Just Start It”.
I have applied this theory in my work. I have, more often than not, put off things which I felt I needed more time to perfect and prepare, and I have found myself cramming to get everything done with much less time. WIth this new theory, I see such progress in the way I deliver, and the way I start with simple steps, modify, update, perfect, and reapply, and it is amazing how much more productive I have found myself now.
So get out there – take your first steps – people will notice. It’s better to show that you have work in progress and that you have something to show things are moving, than it is to say “I’m working on the plan”, or “I have it all in my head – just need to put it on paper”, or “I need to meet with the team and come up with our approach”, or “I’m waiting on person-X to get back to me before I start”.
Just Start It! The worst that could happen is that you have to stop and restart it. But I challenge you to try this theory and see how it works for you!