As I mentioned in the write up on prioritisation, nothing happens in life until we get something done. In fact, if we don’t do something, something else that we do not desire is likely to happen! To succeed in business, and indeed life generally, we must create the desire, willingness and ability to get things done. These three factors comprise what I call the propensity to action.
It is quite easy for us to go through a life assessment and come up with the a true purpose. It can also be easy to define the path we need to take to get to our desired destination. It is also easy to prioritise what we need to do correctly. But unless, we get those things prioritised done, we can not get to achieve the desired objectives. So how do we develop the capacity to get things done?
There are two challenges of getting things done for the entrepreneur. First challenge is for him or her to get to do what he or she should do. Secondly, it is to get your people to do what everyone with a responsibility should do. Below, we will discuss some fundamental approaches that will enhance your and your organisation’s propensity to action.
Believe in what you want to do: One of the major causes of resistance to getting things done is not believing in what you want to do. A soldier who does not believe in his country can hardly fight or fight well to defend his nation. Unless you sincerely believe in what you want to achieve, you will find it difficult to go through the actions required to achieve what you want to achieve. This is especially because difficult times will certainly come. And it is at those times that you know those who truly believed in what is being done! I find Steve Jobs saying quite apt here:
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”
What I can add here is that you will only love what you believe in. It goes without saying that you can also only get your people to put in their best if they believe in the mission. You, therefore, must also make sure you get people who agree and see your vision. Belief overcomes inertia.
Plan how to do it: It is imperative you think through how specific jobs will be done. Going through the mental thought alerts your limbs to be ready for the action. Most successful people are quite detailed in their analyses. You must be able to anticipate various possibilities and what can be done to keep you aligned on your route. Sometimes, obviously, we must be able to ‘think on our feet’ and act immediately. Thorough planning and experience will develop your ability to respond appropriately in these situations.
Planning how to get somethings done frequently involves other people, who should do those things. You have to be able to identify the right people as well as motivate them to get the things done. In addition, and equally crucial, you have to provide the required resources.
Identify and provide the resources you require: It is foolhardy to try to get things done without the required resources. You must therefore be able to identify what resources you need and put in the effort to get them. Frequently, we have to operate below the minimum threshold. That is where, again, our creativity must come in to play. For instance three entrepreneurs may each need $200,000.00 for an economic order of some trading items they want to import. Assume that all the entrepreneurs have only $70,000.00 each. One may decide that he can not get the $130,000.00 and therefore gives up on placing the order. The second might decide he can borrow the shortfall from his bank and yet the third entrepreneur may be able to convince the suppliers to grant him a 90-day supplier credit. Same challenge, yet three completely different courses of action and outcomes. Creativity helps in getting resources from where and when you simply never expect.
Resources are not limited to funds. They can range from factory equipment to borehole at the farm and anything in between. Sometimes resources are ‘soft’ such as goodwill, intellectual property rights etc. Identify whatever you need and plan how to get them.
‘See’ the end: The most successful entrepreneurs have been the ones that are able to mentally see the end in their vision. The entrepreneur who desires to build the largest computer manufacturing company in Africa will most likely be able to mentally see his factories in various parts of Africa running at full capacity. He could literally ‘hear’ the churning of the machines and ‘see’ the employees working around various departments of the plants. To him the factory is surreal even before he is able to raise the funds required!
How clearly you are able to define and ‘see’ your vision will be a great motivation to you and will positively infect those around you. This will make your work seem easier. And when things seem easy, we get them done almost effortlessly.
Engage others: For each undertaking, we must be able to identify the human requirement aspect of it. Some businesses we can start alone and subsequently engage others either on temporary or full time basis. What is important is to be able to make a correct assessment. Don’t allow yourself or your team to be overwhelmed in spite of your best efforts. This can demotivate you. Demotivation makes easy work seem particularly difficult. This can lead to loss of interest and confidence. Don’t let that ever happen.
We also tend to under-estimate what others can do to help or support us. But most of us have a loyal set of people that mean well to us and will support us and our undertakings. Whenever appropriate, we should seek such support. Where equally appropriate, it should be on a financial benefit basis. On the other hand, we must also be available to help and support others. It is a natural that we get support from those whom we support.
Create your loyal tribe.
Create your routine: For an entrepreneur, each day is likely to be very different. Nonetheless, creating a routine can enforce discipline and discipline will enhance productivity. In creating your routine, it helps to know what times of the day and night you operate best. Some people, like me, are at our best in the mornings. So I normally start my ‘day’ very early in the mornings. But I ensure I retire quite early at night when I am least productive. Some others, like two friends I have, are at their best from 9.00pm! Understand what works best for you and utilise it to enhance your productivity.
Plan your day the night before: One of the best actions that I find really important is to always create your following day’s activities the night before. Going to bed knowing full well that you already know what is ahead of you the following day, is very relieving. Even more importantly, your mind is prepared and you will wake up the following day ready to go.
Continuous Review: You should regularly review what you set out to do vis-a-vis what you have actually done. If you tend to have many jobs left undone, you have to check what the cause is. It may be that you are trying to do what is more than realistically achievable on a daily basis. You have to address that. Similarly, if you are clearing everything you set out to do, you can up the ante.
I have tried to go through some of the psychological foundations that I think are key in getting you to be able to do what you have to whenever you have to. But there are the routine aspects that can help you increase your propensity to action. I find the article below interesting and can help.
Our next article is on: Going into Business? Prepare for a Long Journey!