Don't Let the Start Stop You

Don Shula, former NFL coach, once coined the phrase, “The start is what stops most people.” Let’s pause so you can scratch your head and maybe chew on that for a minute.

Got it? So what does it mean? Though a bit oxymoronic upon first reading, there’s great truth behind those words, but it might take a little active thought to get to the meat of it. Have you ever had to clean up a disaster or pack up a full house to move and thought “Where do I even begin?” Now you get it.

Put your entrepreneur hat on for the next several minutes and think about what drives you. How do you get started? I’ve previously discussed how doing the hard thing can help you overcome previously set-in fears to propel your business forward. And several weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about how taking action will eliminate procrastination and increase productivity. The idea of “starting” is much in the same vein.

Are you a swimmer? How old were you when you jumped off a diving board for the first time? Have you ever watched the hesitation a child has when looking down from a diving board into the scary water below for the first time? Marketing expert, Ahryn Scott, says that starting a business is just one long series of diving board experiences. It’s jumping into the deep over and over and over again. The initial fear may never go away, but you can, and should, train yourself to hesitate less. How? By just starting! Sounds too simple, right? Try this: forget the outcome, forget what could happen, put your toes to the end of the board and jump anyway.

Too often we think too long and hard on the the details, which will only hold us back, putting off the start. Too often we think of the many ways we could fail--add that to all the people you could potentially disappoint and it doesn’t sound like a recipe for success, does it? Forget the “what ifs” and listen to this wise poet:

There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask "What if I fall?"
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?
― Erin Hanson

There is a difference in people who talk about doing and people who actually do. When I get in a rut with my workout routine, getting motivated to start up again is sometimes excruciating. I was in such a rut last week. I knew I should put on my shoes and get outside for a run, but I was really tired. . . and the weather was overcast and cold. . . and my knee hurt a little that day . . . and tomorrow would be a better day. Do you see how easily the “details” and the inner voices get in the way? Well, I decided to run anyway and I learned immediately that it was the right choice. Endorphins kicked in, the killer instinct emerged and I soared through the rest of my day on a high.

Like starting a run, momentum is a powerful tool. The “stop” for me was in the starting, but once I got over that roadblock, momentum kicked in and I got in a steady rhythm of productivity. That is “the zone”. When you hear people talk about being “in the zone”, that’s what they’re talking about, being in a steady rhythm of productivity.

We all can learn from a real-life entrepreneur success story, shared by Entrepreneur contributor, Steve Tobak: “When a couple of Chicago software developers [Matt Maloney and Mike Evans] were working on lookup searches for got sick of calling restaurants in search of takeout food for dinner, the light bulb went off: Why isn’t there a one-stop shop for food delivery? That’s when the pair decided to start GrubHub. The website went public [in 2004] and is now valued at more than $3 billion.” The idea was important, yes, but more important was the fact that they acted on it.

I’ll leave you with some more enlightening words from those who know a thing or two about taking action. Remember, only you are in charge of your own destiny. Take the jump and just start.

"Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction” - (frequently credited to Harry S. Truman)

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase … Just take the first step.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Action is the foundational key to all success.” - Pablo Picasso

“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” - Thomas Jefferson

Tell Us: What will you “just start” today?

Written by Mike Williams

I am a serial entrepreneur with more than 20 years of business experience. My goal with this blog is to pass on some of what I have learned in order to help you achieve success in business.

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