I run a small consulting firm, and I’m the (volunteer) Executive Director of a growing nonprofit. I see a lot of different people in very personal, intimate, nitty-gritty detailed situations.
I see my clients — usually founders, CEOs, or high-level executives— and I get a unique window into their staff and partners. I see who is performing and who isn’t.
On the charity side, we have a core team of around 9 people, and another 10-15 on the edges of the organization who help out from time to time.
And here is one of the biggest predictors of success —
The most successful people do every action they can take right up until hitting a barrier, and try to break through the barrier at least a couple times before stopping to analyze or ask for help.
This does not come naturally to analytical and thinking people. It does not come natural to people who are conservative, cautious, or have a significant fear of failure.
I’m naturally analytical. I did not naturally follow this successful pattern. I did the opposite.
I would see a barrier on the horizon, and I’d sit down on the ground and get worried about it. I would start feeling a little bad, and maybe ask for help. Sometimes — most embarrassingly to confess — I would just quit at that stage.
I wanted guarantees of success. I wasn’t willing to put in the intensive action until I was sure things would work.
This, of course, is a near-fatal flaw to building successful organizations and achieving large things.
Art Williams, the billionaire founder of AL Williams and Associates, said: “I don’t believe it’s possible for smart people to succeed. They’re too busy figuring things out to actually do anything.”
Hyperbole aside, the man makes a point. When you complete all the work in your capability even when you see a potential roadblock, the world opens up for you.
Often you’ll discover the solution yourself as you do the work. In the rare instances that you don’t, all the work and momentum you’ve built makes you credible — and makes it easy to ask and get a helping hand.
Remember this: if you see a wall on the horizon, march right up to it. And take at least a couple shots to knock it over before you’re discouraged.
Don’t ignore the barriers. Do give them thought. But never at the expense of doing the work.
Sebastian Marshall authors The Strategic Review, actionable long-form insights from strategy. You can get a free subscription at http://www.thestrategicreview.net — if you’re looking for an excellent volunteer opportunity that helps you get excellent contacts, build very valuable skills, and do good for the world, you can email email@example.com
I don’t know what you have been doing lately, but at three in the morning last night, I was working on a sales letter.
I don’t write sales letters at three in the morning because I have to, like I’m on some impossible deadline.
And, I don’t write sales letters at three in the morning because I’m so fantastically crazy about sales letters that I cannot spend a moment of my time NOT thinking about sales letters.
Or, um. Yeah, that last one is almost true.
It is Sunday afternoon and I am drinking tea. Just sitting down to write. When I write, the topic has usually been made clear to me earlier in the day, or perhaps the day before.
But not today. These writing sessions are always the most interesting, because of a few reasons.
As you start, you have no idea what’s going to come out of your fingers. But you don’t want to go on with meaningless ramblings, so you force yourself to enter into a sort of flow state very quickly. You get better at it with practice.
Two days ago I stumbled upon a thread on Quora about writing advice. Someone said that you should never write about things you thought up beforehand. Everything you write should be in-the-moment writing, because everything that isn’t is a fabrication of ego.
First, I disagree with the use of the word ego, but I know what he means and I understand what he’s saying. I don’t agree though. All writing isn’t made equal.