Here is a recent interaction I had with a client:
Client: “I am 99% sure about taking the next step, but I am going to think about it some more and let you know my decision.”
Me: “If you are 99% sure about anything, and still haven’t done it, there is a problem!”
This client’s attitude was not unique. In fact, thousands of the people I have spoken to over the years never took any action on their projects or ideas, and unfortunately remained stagnant because of this problem.
In my experience, the number of people I’ve spoken to who actually take action are outnumbered about 10 to 1 by the number of people who never really pursue anything they believe in.
And trust me – many of these people really believe they have something great. And in my opinion many of them do! And remember – these are just the people I have spoken to.
At least these people took a step and contacted us! I have to believe then, that the ratio has got to be at least 100 to 1, between the people who think about it, and the people who actually do it.
Maybe it’s even 1000 to 1. The problem I am referring to stems from trust. Not trusting oneself is perhaps the biggest divider between those who do, and those who think about it, but never do.
It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is. It could be a dream to pursue higher education or a career, to start a business, to play sports professionally – or truly anything that isn’t a sure thing.
All the doubt and procrastination starts when we don’t trust ourselves. What prevents us from trusting ourselves? We stop trusting ourselves, feel stunted, and avoid taking action because ultimately we don’t want to fail.
And it is not even the failure itself, but our experience of the failure that keeps us stunted.
For example, some people experience failure simply as an “aha” moment when they say – “OK, I don’t want that to happen again, what I’ve learned is X. So this time, I’ll do Y instead”, but don’t feel a lot of pain about it.
For other people, failure is laced with regret. Not just a little regret, but a whole lot of regret. . . to the point that they wished they hadn’t even tried. It is this type of regret that keeps people from doing the things they want to do.
From this type of regret, life becomes about avoiding things that might lead to regret. So a person not proceeding, when he is 99% sure that his invention will work out is all about avoiding that 1% chance that he might end up feeling that regret.
Wow, are we really that influenced by a little fear? The really funny thing is, living to avoid facing regret stems from a choice that is made by us.
We make choices to not do things we might regret. However, what inevitably happens is, we end up running smack into the regret anyway, because we made a choice to not take action.
Yes, making a choice to not take action has consequences too. And they are often the ones we beat ourselves up over the most.
From this perspective, you might stop and ask yourself: what is actually riskier for you, taking action or not taking action? Which one is more likely to lead you toward regret?
Indeed, generally it is the lack of action that leads most people to regret. So, what’s the cure? The cure is simply being willing to take a step and not look back.
Take a step, any step, and don’t look back. Then, from wherever you land, take another step, and don’t look back.
The most successful people I know consistently take action. And contrary to popular belief, not every action these people take produce perfect (or even desirable) results.
The difference between these people and those who let the fear of regret keep them stagnant is this: They move on ideas quickly and they don’t look back.
When things don’t go well, or when they “fail,” they don’t dwell on whether they should have acted in the first place. . . or how they could have acted differently.
Because they are not constantly living in the shadow of their past failure, most successful people will proceed when they are perhaps 80% sure about their intended action. These people typically seem so confident.
That is because when they do something, they point their whole self in the direction of their action, as opposed to moving forward while still having one foot back where they started!
So, this can be your wake up call. If you are 80% sure your idea or invention could change your life and the lives of others, then move forward, and don’t look back.