When you think of the kinds of entrepreneurs who have that special “something” that allows them to conquer their respective industries, take the world by storm, and rise to legendary status within the business world – do you imagine someone who spends a lot of time hesitating, procrastinating, and obsessing over theory? Or, do you visualise highly energetic and proactive individuals who always have some iron in the fire?
In all sorts of writings from highly-respected commentators on productivity and professional success, you’ll find one theme cropping up over and over again. That is, high-achievers naturally have a bias for action, and don’t let their failures steal their energy or enthusiasm for what they do.
It’s certainly possible to be too hasty and frantic, to the point of recklessness – and this can undoubtedly lead to poor decision-making, unnecessary mistakes, and all sorts of associated mishaps.
But, if you find that you spend way too much of your time obsessively trying to get everything right in the planning stages, you should consider that you might just be discovering elaborate ways to procrastinate, and consequently avoid the “crunch time” moments that actually move the ball forward.
Here are a handful of reasons why you should always be energetic and proactive in your business, and why you shouldn’t allow yourself to get too bogged down in theory, or become too nervous about potential failure and setbacks.
It’s More Effective to Learn as You Go
When it comes to learning a highly-specialised skill – such as becoming a chemical engineer, for example – there’s no getting around the fact that you will simply need to sit in one place for an extended amount of time, and study the material in front of you in a deliberate and focused manner.
For perhaps the majority of entrepreneurs, however, this kind of highly-focused specialisation isn’t really what it’s all about. Instead, the most important thing is often developing a great “big picture” insight, and understanding how to progress the overall “game” in its entirety.
In the book, “Range,” by David Epstein, the author busts one of the most common and enduring myths about success in general; that the best way to “make it” is always to specialise early, and become hyper-focused on one thing.
Citing a variety of real-world anecdotes and research findings, Epstein makes the perhaps counterintuitive case that specialisation is actually only beneficial in certain particular fields and domains. What actually seems to lead to the greatest overall odds of “success” in business in general, is being a “skilled generalist.”
In other words, it’s important to develop a good range of experience in different areas, so that you can amalgamate all of those smaller insights and look at things in a more holistic way.
The thing about becoming a generalist, is that it’s all about exposing yourself to as many hands-on learning experiences as possible. It’s arguable that it may actually be impossible to develop this particular skill set unless you are constantly in the act of learning on the go.
There are many resources available today to help to give you a decent overview of particular domains, so that you know just enough to take action and get stuck in. Reading a good Shopify SEO guide, for example, can prime you to take action, without you needing to study the subject for years first.
There are certain things that you only learn from experience, and not from training courses, manuals, or books. Being proactive and remaining constantly in motion is a great way of ensuring that you are always learning on the go, and adding new arrows to your quiver.
You Won’t Talk Yourself down or Give into Doubt
Self-doubt is an absolute killer in virtually every domain of life, and business is certainly no exception to that rule. Just as being too insecure and nervous can stop you from approaching a potential romantic partner and perhaps forming a meaningful relationship, so too can an overabundance of nerves keep you from achieving your professional potential.
As a rule of thumb, the more you delay, hesitate, and freak yourself out with every potential mishap and stumbling block in the way, the less likely you are to take action, and the more likely you are to fall into a constant spiral of procrastination and timidity.
As long as you have your fundamental values in place, and you’re being at least reasonably considerate with your professional decisions, being highly proactive and always favouring action over inaction, naturally helps you to avoid this particular stumbling block.
If you condition yourself to take action first, assess the results, and then take more action, you don’t give yourself much room to talk yourself down, or to build up a mountain of doubt.
A Certain Number of Failures Are Typically Necessary for Success
When you look at the portfolios of extraordinarily successful individuals such as Richard Branson, you’ll quickly notice that it’s not all a tale of unmitigated success. In fact, there are plenty of failed business ventures, wrong calls, and setbacks included in the overall picture.
One of the open secrets of being a successful entrepreneur is that success rarely comes immediately, and it almost never comes without a certain number of failures being part and parcel of the experience.
One of the key character traits of people who are going to be successful entrepreneurs, is that they view their efforts as a series of A/B tests. It’s not about betting all your chips on one outcome, and then becoming completely disheartened if you don’t win big, and win fast. Instead, it’s about trying out many different things, seeing what appears to have potential, and then adjusting your aim for the next go.
Failures in business are all but inevitable – which means that a professional approach that keeps you from being overwhelmed by those failures can be an absolute game changer. What’s more, failures are often very instructive, and can allow you to become more effective as a whole – just so long as you keep moving forward.
Here’s an important trick to keep in mind – when you are constantly taking action, and are trying many different things at once, you’ll be too busy to dwell overly on any particular failure, and become completely disheartened by it. What’s more, even if one thing doesn’t work out, you’ll quickly be able to shift your focus to one of your other endeavours without missing a step.
You Don’t Always Know the Best Fit for You Until You Stumble onto It
Don’t you think it’s strange that we are so often encouraged to come up with a vision for what we want our lives to look like, somewhere in our late teen years?
The question to ask here is; when have you ever really met an 18 year old who seemed to know what it was all about?
To be fair, it does sometimes happen that the goals we choose for ourselves at an early age stick and bear fruit. But, more often, those dreams and goals need a lot of tweaking and adjustment along way in order to stay relevant and fruitful.
The bottom line is that it’s one thing to imagine what your dream job would look like, and it’s another thing altogether to actually experience that “dream” and see how well it resonates with you in practice.
Often, we don’t really know what the best “fit” is for us, until we stumble onto it.
Being proactive and constantly trying new things allows you to develop a broad range of experiences, and to zoom in on those areas that really do resonate with you in a real and direct sense.
And don’t be surprised if you’re caught off guard by some of what you discover along the way.
Creativity and Innovation Often Require a Certain Degree of Chaos
Creativity and innovation seem to require a certain degree of chaos – often, if not always.
Someone who turns up to work every day and does things strictly by the book in a predictable but diligent fashion, may well become very successful in that particular domain. But it’s not very likely that they will completely transform their industry, or change the way things are done in a significant sense.
When we look up to individuals such as Steve Jobs, a large part of what we are really so fascinated by is that “chaotic” and “out-of-the-box” element that allows them to imagine and manifest something that the world has never seen before.
The more active you are in your professional life, and the less inhibited you are by professional norms and conventions, the higher the likelihood is that you will have those powerful and strange moments of alignment and insight that can enable you to really change how things are done and understood.
Being proactive and always having a bias for action means, among other things, that you’re less likely to be hamstrung by convention and anxiety in any given action. After all, if it doesn’t work out, you’ll just try something else.
There’s a fine balance to be struck here, but if you can allow just enough “chaos” into your business, you might have what it takes to really change the game.