In college, I was always late handing in projects and assignments.
Back then, I thought being 110% perfect was way more important than getting things done on time (deadlines be damned!).
It would take forever for me to do the research and when I finally finished writing, I’d go over every word, every line, every bit of punctuation again and again.
It was a compulsive habit I didn’t even know I had… until I was handed the biggest assignment of my life.
I was in graduate school by then and I was making a documentary film about the Brazilian Amazon.
The trip involved traveling overland through Peru, with expensive cameras and equipment that no one wanted to insure.
There were a couple of major issues with this…
I had never filmed a documentary before.
I had never travelled alone before.
I had never been rejected by an insurance company because my journey was considered “too risky”.
Oh… and I didn’t speak a word of Portuguese! 🙂
My mind went into overdrive and so did my compulsive need to over-prepare.
I made lists and I checked them twice (move over, Santa!). I spent hours and hours reading everything I could get my hands on about the Amazon, Brazil and Peru.
But no matter what I did, I couldn’t get the nightmare reel of “what if” scenarios to stop playing in my head.
What if something bad happens and I got lost? I was alone and no one would know where to find me!
What if someone stole my equipment? I’d go broke trying to get it replaced!
This went on and on until I boarded the plane.
And in that instant, all of that fear, anxiety, doubt and worry melted away and I ended up having the trip of my life (you can read more about how I dissolved those anxious fearful thoughts in this post).
That was also the day I adopted a new mantra… jump on that plane.
Those 4 words are now my metaphor — a personal “abracadabra” — that gets me to stop overthinking, overanalyzing and over-preparing and start taking action.
Iterate Your Way to Awesome
If you’ve heard me speak on stage or if you’ve participated in some of my programs you might have heard me talk about the “Iterate Your Way to Awesome Cycle.”
It’s a concept that grew out of my “jump on that plane” approach and it’s a game-changer.
Iterating your way to awesome isn’t just about taking action… it’s about taking imperfect action.
Here’s the thing…
Every experience you have, gives you data — information, knowledge, feedback — you can use to get the results you want.
And the only way to get to that priceless data is to take imperfect action.
When you have an idea, a goal, a dream, you need to take action on it as soon as possible, even if it’s not perfect.
Even if you don’t have all the answers.
Even if you have a nightmare reel of “what if” scenarios playing in your mind like I did in graduate school.
It’s scary, yes and it will push you way past your comfort zone but the rewards are more than worth it.
Action gives you clarity, on what’s working, what’s not working and what you need to change…
Like nothing else can.
Taking a single, imperfect action kickstarts momentum, making it easier to take the next imperfect action and the next.
And with every imperfect action you take, you’re rewarded with more information, more confidence, more momentum, and better results, creating a virtuous cycle where one good thing builds on the last…
Until one day, you stop, look around and realize you’ve done it, you’ve got the results you want…
You’ve arrived at awesome 🙂
Go to the Party
Success happens in action not in preparation.
Without consistent, imperfect action, all you’ll ever have is a far-off dream…
All you’ll ever have is the fear and the doubt that comes from falling into the preparation trap where you spend days, months — maybe even years — deferring your goals and your dreams because you’re busy overthinking, over-preparing and anticipating everything that could go wrong.
It’s like when you’re invited to a party and you don’t want to leave the house.
But when you force yourself to get off the couch, you end up having the time of your life.
The truth is it’s not always the best and the brightest who get to the top, it’s the ones who take imperfect action and keep taking imperfect action.
These are the people who create real results in their life and business.
The preparation trap is why there are thousands maybe even millions of incredible, half-written novels hidden in desk drawers and not out on the shelves and on bestseller lists.
It’s why world-changing ideas — ideas that could protect the environment, eradicate poverty, get animals off the extinction list, provide free water for all — don’t ever get to see the light of day.
Don’t let that happen to YOU.
Jump on that plane.
Say those words to yourself when you know you’re hesitating, procrastinating and over-preparing…
Say it to yourself every time you realize you’re holding yourself back from doing what you need to do to get where you want to go.
I’ve come a long way since that day on the plane to Brazil.
I’ve travelled the world, I’ve built a multi-million dollar business from scratch and I’ve helped countless students and clients do the same…
And I’m just getting started.
I “jump on that plane” and I take imperfect action and I don’t stop until I get to awesome.
It’s the most powerful way — the ONLY real way — to create unstoppable momentum so you can get what you want in your life and business.
So, over to you …
What are you afraid of taking action on? What’s the idea, the dream, the goal that has you hesitating, holding back?
Think of ONE imperfect action you can take today to iterate your way to awesome and share it in the comments below.