Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

Procrastination is Like Learning to Drive

I was thinking today as I ran about what happens when we think about tasks/ actions/ challenges. For a while I’ve been thinking about how I need to create as shallow an ‘on-ramp’ (like a ramp into a carpark or motorway?) as possible to tasks. Rather than having the action to do and building up objections sub-consciously to the effort of doing it (Forster’s reactive brain), I need to do a little bit of pre-planning to stop building the blockages to doing the task.

What I thought about as I ran was when I learnt to drive in a fully manual car, one of the really tricky bits was the clutch control. The whole balancing/ tipping point bit around not over-revving and potentially stalling when taking the clutch off too quickly and not under-revving and avoiding going anywhere (apologies to any pure- automatic drivers who think I’m now talking in Swahili…….) In the worst case scenario you end up flooding the engine.

So my question was whether taking action on tasks/ projects/ challenges and goals is like learning to drive and are we all still stuck in learner mode? I know I sometimes over-rev and stall in advance of taking action. Over-thinking and over-anticipating the small amount of effort actually required to be successful. There are still skeletons littering my project and task list (and in some furthest corners my goals and vision statements) which are like flooded engines. Too much anticipation has built up in the cylinders of my mind and I just can’t start on them.

I need some advanced driver lessons.

Are you having visions?

Well, if you’re not, you should be.

The power of the human imagination is still relatively little researched. Productivity literature, parents and teachers ask us to focus on the task in hand and our project plans. Yet we know through our human history that it has been the big thinkers that have enabled our faster progress as a human race: not those who just focus on the here & now and accept the norm.

As animals, we are goal oriented (food, sex….) and from what we know about our evolution, we can speculate that a sophistication in our goal setting was introduced as we developed consciousness. We could defer satisfaction. Invest time and energy, working together for a longer-term and ultimately more rewarding goal. I suspect this skill is also subject to further evolution. We can be bound by what we know, as framed by our human history and what we tell each other. Limited by the current ‘realities’ of our knowledge. Or we can recognise this will just bring us a tomorrow that looked like yesterday.

Instead, we need to recognise our own power of imagination. We use the same parts of our brain in imagining as we do in remembering. Your ‘brain’ doesn’t really know that your big vision hasn’t already happened; therefore you are the only blocker to your dreams. Your limiting self-beliefs, your why-nots. So let’s take advantage of our sophistication. Let’s blow the doors off everything that limits us. Let’s all start to have visions that we’re proud of: our reality is what we make it.

Fortunately a giant robot dinosaur called FAKEGRIMLOCK comes to the rescue of our human limitations on a post on Eric Ries’ Lean Startup blog. My favourite part:




How to be an entrepreneur

During a talk I gave I was asked about the key lessons that I have learnt from running several businesses. I feel hardly qualified to answer, but I am very clear on a number of aspects:

  1. The cost of understanding your product/service has to be less than the immediately obvious benefit that comes from using your product/ service. People will stay with you (pitch/ marketing message/ website) for as long as their needs being solved are made immediately apparent, are sufficiently significant, and the ways in which your product/ service solves that need are clearly understandable (and the cost of understanding is less than the benefit) [adapted and evolved from SuperConnect]
  2. A CEO should be aiming to only focus on strategy and people development: your head should be 12-18mths hence at first (longer over time), and your heart should be in developing the person better than you. You are the only person in the business whose job it really is to ‘develop the insights/ perceptions/ abilities to detect patterns of change and relate them to your landscape, industries, competition and business’ [adapted from Execution]. You should always be looking to develop the person better than you to be able to take your job. If they don’t yet exist in your company, make sure you hire them. ‘Yes’ or ‘passive no’ people will kill your business.
  3. If the core transactions of your business don’t exist without funding (including your time/cost funding), then your sole focus should be on adjusting your business model to be profitable in its core operation without investment. However well-funded or visionary your plans are, the cash flow monster eats the investment and then chases and kills 99% of its prey.
  4. Read more…

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