The key to starting something new is to find the first step. We get wrapped up in long-term planning, in resourcing, in making sure we have the organization, the tools, but until we see, clearly, the first step we have to take, we’re just preparing, we’re not doing.
If your team is stuck – they know where they have to go, but are not moving – do they have the first step clearly defined? As a leader, can you help them, empower them to define it?
It may be that there is fear around finding the first step – after all, once it’s known, there is not much in the way of moving into change. Teams are even more resistant to change than individuals. Your service to the team as a leader is to help them overcome that resistance.
Leadership requires audacity – the ability to move beyond fear, and embrace the unknown. Can you take your team beyond their fear so they can see their first move?
… but when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money— booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence
This is the paragraph directly before the Ultimate Motivational Quote (“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy…”).
William Hutchison Murray was a mountain-climber and adventurer. Here he is, starting before he is ready – booking his ticket and getting “halfway out of our ruts”.
The “definite commitment” of a small step is worth dozens of hours of pondering direction, making backup plans and calculating consequences.
This quote is readily available, and well-known, and worthy of a much longer post. For now, since we’re talking about How to Get Started, here it is – the ultimate motivational quote to get you to stop preparing and start doing:
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. where is my ip . Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.
― William Hutchison Murray
Preparation. That’s it. That’s the trap.
Rather than write a paragraph, you buy a beautiful leather-bound notebook. Rather than schedule a meeting with the team to reset the project, you order a book about team leadership from Amazon. Rather than write the first three slides of the presentation, you spend an hour checking out design templates.
There is nothing wrong with a preparation. But it makes you feel like you are making progress. Until you start, you are not.
Write on a legal pad, not a leather-bound book. Send the email scheduling the meeting. Write the first three slides on a blank template – make it look pretty later.
Start before you’re ready. (* this advice originally from Iris)
Leadership requires, indeed is defined by, causing change.
We don’t like change. We are wired to repeat the patterns that exist, and to resist the work necessary to build new ones.
But until we start, nothing will happen, and we are not leading. Here are three steps to begin your change. Do them now:
1. Work out the first small step. Don’t take a lot of time to do this. Thinking about this first move can be a trap that can last for years. Send a calendar invite to the team-member you need to talk to. Email your boss and ask for the meeting that is necessary. Write the first three slides of the presentation you have to build. Start small.
2. Clear your mind. Much of the resistance you feel is emotional, irrational. Five minutes of quiet meditation will help you see that the first step is just that, the first step. The world will not end if you get it wrong. In fact, usually not much will happen at all, except that you have started your journey, which is, in fact, massive.
3. Set your intention. Commit yourself to the small energy of what is necessary to take that first move.
And now do it. And now you’ve started to change yourself, and the world.