Is success elegant? Can it be governed by a formula or algorithm?
Not in my experience. Achieving anything substantial is an ugly matter. Rarely do things go as originally planned and they certainly can’t be predicted by an equation.
The unpredictable rears it’s head and you have to scramble to get back on track. People sometimes don’t cooperate with you or keep their promises to you. It’s messy.
Achievement is a dirty affair.
The reality is, though, if you are NOT prepared to get dirty, chances are you won’t reach your desired destination.
What does get dirty look like?
1. Make fast decisions with the amount of analysis consistent with the impact and risk of the decision at hand. A $10,000 decision doesn’t require a week’s worth of study. Pondering and over-analysis paralyzes execution and prevents progress.
2. Have Plan B ready-to-go. Plan A rarely happens. There is always something that shows up that you didn’t anticipate. Keep your strategy in the organic state, able to morph into something else if conditions warrant. Mindlessly sticking to Plan A is a recipe for disaster.
3. Embrace Imperfection. Perfect solutions exist only in the minds of the theoretician. Success in the real world demands that you get it “just about right” and fine tune it on the run as you learn through execution.
4. Do it. Try it. Fix it. Keep your feet moving. Be in the execution mode at least 80% of the time; save 20% for planning.
5. Align yourself with doers. People who are passionate about doing things rather than talking about things. Doers are contagious; this is the crowd to hang out with.
6. Work outside your comfort zone. If you’re not uncomfortable you are playing it too safe. Create a new box to play in; existing confines stultify creativity and innovation.
7. Bend the rules that prevent you from getting it done. There are dumb rules in all organizations that get in the way of progress. Find a way to work through them, and find someone who will protect your back.
8. Do what needs to be done. Use your job description as a guide but relentlessly focus on moving your organization forward regardless of bureaucratic constraints. Do the right thing not the “proper” thing.
9. Avoid multitasking. And beware of lengthy to do lists. Busyness and taking on too much can be deadly. Focus on the critical few, not the possible many.
10. Make mistakes. Rarely will you get it right the first time and if you aren’t prepared to take a risk and make a mistake you won’t accomplish anything. Successful people typically make more mistakes than others.
Clean hands typifies someone who conjures up pristine theoretical solutions but has difficulty delivering.
Dirty hands, on the other hand, describes the practical person who is prepared to dive into the grunge to deliver.
Want to succeed?
Take a look at your hands.
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