The First Step…


Taking the first step in anything in business or life itself is concurrently the easiest and most difficult.  It’s also the most important.  After the first step, you will naturally move to the next step, as the initial hurdle is always the highest, and things will begin to flow.

Learning to overcome the roadblocks in the beginning phase of something new is vital to getting into a proactive mindset and diving right in.  As Tim Jahn sagely advises:

“What separates the successful from the unsuccessful is the acknowledgment of weakness.  Bring your weaknesses to the front of the line, acknowledge them, and learn from them.  Think of them as a valuable tool rather than trash to take out.”

Let’s first map out the roadblocks that may be stopping you from taking the first step on whatever is next for you – whether it’s a new business idea, marketing strategy, form of art – anything you’re considering.  After, we will go through some activators.

Roadblocks of the first step

Fear

The most common stopping point from any first step is fear, which is an irrational anxiety.  Fear in most cases stems from potential failure:  due to our educational system and culture, society fosters an absurd fear of failure.  It is absurd, because failure is actually a beautiful thing.  You’re certainly going to fail, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that if you learn from the experience and become better for it.  Never let fear hold you back, deprogram yourself from that mindset.

I need more time”

I’m going to let my friend Seth say this one, as his advice is perfect:

First rule of decision making: More time does not create better decisions.

In fact, it usually decreases the quality of the decision.

More information may help. More time without more information just creates anxiety, not insight.

Deciding now frees up your most valuable asset, time, so you can go work on something else. What happens if, starting today, you make every decision as soon as you have a reasonable amount of data?

Procrastination

I firmly believe if you are procrastinating doing something, you are probably doing the wrong thing with your life.  Here’s a dose of reality:  if you are at a point you are consistently putting off work, you should probably reconsider the path you are headed down.  If that’s difficult to hear, it’s probably true.

Activators for the first step

Self-discipline

Being able to bring yourself to action regardless of the emotional state you are in requires learning self-discipline.  This is vital to being able to take that first step.  It is a mindset you must focus to build, but the payoff is seeing your ideas and goals come to fruition.

Steve Pavlina has a great analogy on self-discipline:

My philosophy of how to build self-discipline is best explained by an analogy. Self-discipline is like a muscle. The more you train it, the stronger you become. The less you train it, the weaker you become.

Similarly, the basic method to build self-discipline is to tackle challenges that you can successfully accomplish but which are near your limit. This doesn’t mean trying something and failing at it every day, nor does it mean staying within your comfort zone. You will gain no strength trying to lift a weight that you cannot budge, nor will you gain strength lifting weights that are too light for you. You must start with weights/challenges that are within your current ability to lift but which are near your limit.

Aligning yourself with the right people

I am fortunate – a few extremely talented individuals have taken their personal time to have in-depth conversations with me, and I know their end goal is to empower me to achieve success.  Despite the fact that I am self-motivated and have a natural passion for what I do, I owe much to the generous people who have invested their time in me.  They have helped me build a mindset to make the all important first step on more than one occasion.  We all should foster those invaluable relationships that push us to the next level.

Develop a proactive mindset

Something that has always been clear to me is most spend a greater percentage of time in a reactive mindset than proactive.  When you shift to a proactive mindset, you become someone who takes the first step as a natural.  It takes some time to push yourself to do this because you may have unknowingly be conditioned to have a reactive mindset, but make no mistake, your results will become stronger for it.

Even when you get there it’s tough because many will not understand it.  Ultimately though, the more proactive you are, the more freedom and time you will gain.  Consider all the benefits of being proactive:

  • Positions your self/business/blog as a leader
  • Allows you to dictate the future instead of the external forces deciding it for you
  • More efficient and better work because the proactive mindset dominates the reactive mindset
  • Reactive strategy in fast-changing environment is risky
  • Let’s you have a sound, measured plan in place instead of constantly jumping around

Conclusion

Your business, your marketing, your blog or your life will be set on fire when you construct a mindset of consistently taking the first step confidently and seamlessly, without fear.  Don’t blindly step forward – certainly have a strategy – but never be afraid to take the first step, or the world will pass you by time and time again.

image credit belpo via flickr