Act Before Thinking

As I was trying to figure out what topic to blog about today, I came across this title in my "drafts" to remind myself to post about it at some point. I thought it would fit perfect for my post, as I was just listening to a teleseminar talking about "Ready, Fire, Aim", while at the same time listening to a Real Estate Guys radio show where the topic was one of their main mantras - "education for effective action". I took it as a sign that these came up during the same day that it was the perfect time to address this.

We're traditionally taught to be prepared; to get ready, aim and fire, in that order.  It sounds reasonable, right? It seems to make sense that that's the logical order of things. There's a lot to be said in favor of it to be sure. You don't want to go into something with zero knowledge or direction, that's certainly true. However, so many people get stuck in the first two parts of the process. They either never feel like they're "ready" enough, or if they do start to aim, it's without enough clarity to know what they're supposed to be aiming at, or with too much timidity to actually pull the trigger. They sit and wait, and analyze, and before they get to "fire" the opportunity is passed and they have to start all over. Opportunity does not sit and wait with a target on it's back for you to aim until you're fully prepared to pull the trigger.

So what's a more effective approach? The "ready, fire, aim" concept is not new, but it is contrary to what our naturally tendencies and comfort is. We often want to be completely ready to go, and we should be reasonably so, but you will never be fully 100% ready to pull the trigger. If you wait until everything lines up perfectly, until you have all the answers and all the knowledge you need to move forward, you'll be waiting your entire life. We need to be reasonably ready, have a good knowledge base to stand on, and pull the trigger, even if we don't know 100% what the final outcome will be or have every "what if" scenario figured out ahead of time.

One important aspect of this is knowing enough to work backwards off a "worst case scenario". You have to have enough knowledge around what you're doing to create a couple possible outcomes, and figure what your worst case scenario is. If you can live with that, don't go any further in analyzing. Start moving forward, and then figure out the details or exact direction from there. Take real estate entrepreneurship for example. When you come across a potential deal, and you know values, you can work backwards and figure out a couple exit strategies. Is the worst case handing the deal off to another investor for a small wholesale or assignment fee? There could be several other much better options, but if that's the worst case, stop thinking and pull the trigger. Then explore the other options and decide which route is the best. Is the worst case a huge loss, but with the potential for profit? Ok, well then in those instances step back and take a closer look first. That said, some of the great companies out there have had worst case scenarios that were complete failure of the business. The point is, you need to make that decision on what you can live with as a worst case. Even facing a potential catastrophe as a worst case could still mean moving forward, if you know that going into it and are ok if that is the final result.

When you get stuck with thinking you need all the answers before you can do anything, remember that there is no way you can know it all. That's why it's so important to surround yourself with smart people and have a great team around you. The key really is action anyway. Knowledge is not power, applied knowledge is power. Knowledge is only the potential for power. You can have all the knowledge in the world, but without using it and taking action, it's not doing anything for you and is wasted. Don't spend your time working so hard to learn something, to become an expert, and then never use it!

Here are some quick tips to get past being stuck in either the "ready" or "aim" steps:
  • Expand your knowledge - But don't let not knowing all the answers stop you.
  • Build a great team - Having a great, knowledgeable team helps you feel more confident.
  • Step outside your comfort zone - Get used to it, because "ready, fire, aim" isn't always - or usually isn't - comfortable.
  • Be clear on what you want - Without clarity on what you want in life, how can you know what to aim at?
  • Be bold - Ask questions around and take bold steps towards the things you want.
  • Don't over-think it - If you sit and think about all the bad things that could go wrong, of course you'll never want to move forward.
  • Remember that failure is part of success - Re-frame your thinking around failure. It's only failure if you let it defeat you. Otherwise it's just part of the process and an opportunity to learn and do better.
 Now go out there and practice. "Ready, Fire!, Aim". Get as much knowledge and make as many preparations as you can up front, then take bold action, and make adjustments as needed.

Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action Commercial Real Estate