More than ever I am convinced that success, or getting what you want, is very much about the ability to decide what you want, make a plan and then stop over-thinking it and just get busy making things happen – whether you feel like it or not.
“Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not.”
This quote, by Michael Dell of Dell computer fame, is now my official motto. For too many years I have had a tendency to think and dream and plan and then re-think, re-plan. Sure, I eventually move, often in sudden bursts of enthusiasm, but really I think the true do-ers in this world are the ones that see real results happen for them.
For example, when I look at bands or artists or actors or the like, it is very often obvious to me that it is not purely their talent that has helped them scale the heights of success but rather it is their drive, their determination and their bias for action. While it’s true that we need focus, that busyness in and of itself is not enough (without focus we tend to open too many fronts without making enough progress in any one area), it is also true that those who just have or find a lot of energy and get their hustle on are the ones who are most likely to get what they want.
Getting What You Want
And to some extent, life is about getting what we want. While your philosophical nature might lead you to want more than a life that is all about go-getting, even this sentiment is also a statement of what you want! In fact most “thinkers”, people (like me) who like to read and contemplate and chill, would say “yes” in a flash to a windfall of money because we imagine it takes away the stress of having to stop “just being” in order to go out and “just do”.
I think that is why it is so important to “just do” the things that we love to do, and that we are good at. I don’t particularly like doing bookwork, financial projections or anything to do with spreadsheets really – and as a result, I am hopeless at that kind of work. It’s not that I don’t have the raw mental horsepower to do the work – it’s that I don’t want to do it; I get bored and take far too long to get anything done. On the flipside, I really enjoy writing and can bash out a decent article in a couple of hours and a book in a couple of months.
Time To Sit Back And Think
A few years ago, after a very adventurous and exciting youth spent gallivanting all over the place having fun, working hard and generally running myself ragged, I “retired” to the Dandenong Ranges and began working from home, writing and bringing up some little kids and doing a lot more navel-gazing.
I have not been a complete hermit or anything and have certainly kept getting off the couch to go out and play gigs which is more than can be said for most musicians newly burdened with child rearing responsibilities. Not blaming them, it is a fucking hard thing, bringing kids up and the only SANE response is to drop as many superfluous responsibilities as possible to free up your energy. But I could not drop music, it is like water to me, I must drink or I die.
Time To Get Out There And Execute
But having said that, I have still not been madly executing at the rate that I could have been and this is now my focus, I am pushing myself to execute my ideas – not too many of them just the good ones – and to make them happen. I think the time spent contemplating, experimenting and going deep to discover what I really need in this life to be happy was not time wasted, I am very clear about what I want but now this introspection is not so important for me. I know what I want, I know where I am going and the thing to do is stay focussed on what it is I want, my best ideas for making these things happen and what needs to be done to make it so.
And that’s the crux of it, no matter what you want, you will always need to do things that you either don’t like doing much or that on any given day at any given time, you don’t feel like doing but you must push on and do it anyway. You must remember what your big picture desires are and put these above your little picture desires.
Big Picture Desires (BPD) Vs Little Picture Desires (LPD)
Our BPDs are the big goals, the big wants, the consistent things that you always come back to wanting.
For example in my life one of my biggest and most unflinching desires is to stand in front of big crowds again and sing my music with a band. This is happening; it is slowly coming true. Just this weekend past I stood before a crowd of 300 or more people with my band at a local festival as we rocked out our tunes. Two years ago I didn’t have a band to do this with! So progress is being made – but it takes the strength of mind to remember what my Big Picture Desire is whenever I get run down and tired, or whenever I want to do things that just don’t help the cause.
For example, it gets pretty damn cold up here in the mountains where we live and sometimes I hate the idea of going out after work into the cold and rehearsing of an evening when it is raining and I feel so very tired. But I remember that the LPD is to sit on the couch and chill, and that this gets me no closer to my BPD – and I get out and get to work.
Same goes for eating and drinking like a glutton. Truth be known I fight every day with a voice inside my head (the monkey mind) that says “Come on – let’s eat! Let’s drink! All the food! All the booze! Whoo—hooo!” – but if I did that I would be fat. And I don’t think being fat particularly helps any of my Big Picture Desires – not my music desires, not my desires to live long and prosper, not my desire to feel good in my body – so I try to remember my BPDs and eat sensibly.
Same goes for “executing” which is just a business corporate way of saying “getting the plan done for real”. It usually means a lot of work, it means getting it done when you would rather chill, it means just going with the plan instead of having fun inventing a new one. It means finishing things you start and not starting things that are distracting you from the path you decided to go down.
In closing, I think my opening paragraph bears repeating: More than ever I am convinced that success is very much about the ability to decide what you want, make a plan and then stop over-thinking it and just get busy making things happen – whether you feel like it or not.
So what are your Big Picture Desires? What are you going to make happen?