Figurine Elvis Presley behind the glass of the car in the old town. Riga. Latvia

By Rick Nelson

Growth Never Stops – Week 1

Like many of you, 2018 presents me with new professional challenges and opportunities for development that I’m excited to pursue. And like many times in my career, as I begin to dip my toe in the waters of new adventure, I find myself getting ready to get ready. 

You know what I mean. Hours and hours of discussing and brainstorming and making lists about strategy, competitive advantage, tools that need to be in place, websites, one-pagers, blah blah blah blah blah! Fortunately, this time I recognized immediately what was happening and decided to fix it—to execute rather than plan, move rather than talk. As Elvis said, “A little less conversation and a little more action!”

We’ve all heard and used the term “analysis paralysis,” but do you know where the paralysis comes from? It’s fear! Fear of being wrong, fear of making a mistake, fear of being exposed, fear of being embarrassed, fear of opportunity lost. It can happen to any of us at any time.

For example, I hired a young salesperson years ago. The job was pretty straightforward: Call prospects and see if they are interested in buying our service. A day passed and I asked him how many prospects he was able to speak with. He responded, “I haven’t called anyone yet. I’m organizing a qualified call list so I can be more efficient.” I wasn’t very experienced in sales, and that seemed to make sense, so I gave him a couple more days and asked again, “How many prospects have you been able to speak with?” He replied, “Oh, I haven’t called anyone yet. I’m doing research on the companies so I will have a better understanding of who they are when I call.” My confidence in managing salespeople not yet solidified, I went back to my desk. Two days later, I asked one more time and as you can imagine, there was some other task that needed to be accomplished before even the first dial could be made.

Even with my inexperience I knew we had a problem. The problem: getting ready to get ready. For this salesperson, anything was better than making a call and—Heaven forbid—getting someone on the phone. In this case the individual was simply in the wrong job. Since then I’ve met many others that initially suffered from “Getting Ready to Get Ready” syndrome, but I’ve found that the vast majority are able to overcome it with training, support and accountability.

This isn’t just a sales issue, either. Engineers can get stuck getting ready to get ready as well. Which technology stack? What set of business rules? Which tools? You should see the hesitation that some organizations have to simply pull the trigger and execute a release. It’s even happened here: our Consulting group had a major concept project with one of the world’s largest technology players, and the client executive had staked his reputation on its success. The project was to be released in phases, but each phase had huge implications on continuance of the project. The deadline for the first release was looming and one of the key engineers knew it was going to be a little buggy. He told the executive, “We can’t release. The application isn’t perfect. It has bugs.” Sitting in the back of the room, I could only imagine the flak the engineering team was going to take.

But without hesitation, the executive said, “Of course it has bugs. Nothing is perfect. Execute the release on time, continue to work the fixes, and our customers will share flaws we missed. I’d rather have our customers have something to criticize than nothing at all.” These were the words of a person that had experienced those fears I mentioned before, but overcame them and was comfortable with the most likely outcome.

If you’re not getting started—if you’re hesitating when you should be pulling the trigger—if you’re not executing…ask yourself this: What am I afraid of? Once you have the answer (and there IS an answer), ask this: What happens if I never execute? If I don’t hire or fire that employee? If I don’t sell anything? If the software never gets released? If I don’t create a new product?  What you are trying to execute has to be more important, more powerful, more meaningful than your fear—or you’ll always be stuck.

In the same song, Elvis suggests “a little less fight and a little more spark,” so here are my three best tips to inspire you on your way to taking action instead of talking:

1) Get your feet wet.  2) Defeat the dread.  3) Do meaningful work. 

Over the next few weeks, we’ll expand on these topics and discuss how you can recognize when fear is preventing you from reaching your best results, overcome your internal barriers, and fulfill your potential with the kind of courage you never knew you had.

Until next time, remember: You’ve got this. Don’t get ready — get after it!

See you next week, Rick

How do YOU get unstuck? I’d love to get your thoughts and comments.

Rick Nelson is a Partner at TA Group and CEO of Direct Technology. He and other leaders are sharing their experiences each week for 12 weeks in the Growth Never Stops  series.

About the Series

Growth and learning have been at the core of TA Group’s success. Academic learning certainly, but more importantly the kind of learning that comes from trial and error, from bumps and bruises. Otherwise known as experience. We’d like to share that experience with you!

Each Wednesday over the next 12 weeks we will share a high-level topic related to personal or professional growth, leadership or management. We’ll share the stories and the steps that lead to the learning and we’ll ask you to share with us. Let’s grow together in 2018.