When building a company, taking action is key. It’s the only thing that generates outcomes.
But when there are a million things you could do, the key is knowing what to focus on. Paul Graham has said that for early-stage companies, there is usually one most important thing on which the fate of the entire enterprise depends. Discerning that one thing at each stage becomes the mission.
Also, important: being able to perceive when you’ve lost focus.
Yesterday evening, I attended a Mixergy Live Event on Focus put on by Andrew Warner. The discussion continued over a breakfast meet-up this morning.
This was a fantastic event and my mind is still racing. But one take-away really stood out:
Learn to Notice When You’re Stuck
You are stuck when you’ve decided to take an action, yet find yourself resisting for emotional reasons.
A great way to perceive this is when you have an item on your to-do list because you believe it will help you achieve your one most important outcome, yet you keep putting it off. (This is different than procrastination, which happens when you put off all your work.)
When you’re stuck like this, there is likely some fear or limiting belief holding you back, but which you haven’t specifically perceived. Andrew spoke about thoughts that “fly around like butterflies” in his head yet never rise to the level of conscious perception unless deliberately examined.
Unfortunately, whether or not you examine them, they still exert influence.
Once you notice what’s going on, journal on the questions, “Why am I not taking this action? What am I afraid will happen?”
It’s possible that examining these questions will expose an issue worth addressing. Sometimes your subconscious mind uses fear to tug at your sleeve and bring genuine risks to your attention. (Like, “I’m afraid the numbers in my projections are off … oh wait, here’s an error. I better fix it.”)
But also possible, you might find there is an unreasonable fear or limiting belief at work.
When that’s the case, the act of identifying it is the most crucial step to examining and overcoming it. You can’t consider and modify a belief until you first perceive it.
Overcoming Limiting Beliefs
There are myriad resources for overcoming limiting beliefs, including the fantastic framework provided by The Foundation. Find the one that works for you and apply it.
Increasing the Cycle Time
The great insight here though is that there’s a cycle:
Stuck > Notice > Examine > Overcome
The key to moving through the cycle and getting to “Overcome” and all the progress that follows is moving quickly to Step 2: “Notice.”
How fast can you make this happen?
Could you trim this time down from weeks, to days, to maybe even just hours?
Get good at spotting “Stuck” because the fate of your company depends on it.