“Do not wait: the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and work whatever tools you may have at your command and better tools will be found as you go along.” ~Napoleon Hill
I think Nike got it right.
Ninety percent of anything I have ever learned has come about because I just jumped in and took action and learned experientially, even when it was scary as shit.
And it’s interesting to me, looking around the fitness industry, the people who are the most successful are the ones who have mastered the arts of confidence and conviction. They might still be learning (we all are) but they tend to operate on the side of “Why NOT me?” versus “Why me?”
In other words, the most successful people are not successful because they know the most or they’re the smartest or they have the best connections. They are successful because they’ve simply been at it longer and experienced more. And how do you experience more? Through action.
My Best of You gals know that one of my core values is #GSD (getting shit done) and not because I am a slave-driver or a hardcore comply-or-die coach, but because it’s only through action, and the subsequent feedback/experience that we get the lessons and improve. The difference between someone who is killing it and you is just that they’ve taken more action. And tenacity and persistence is magic. Sticking with it, despite how hard it is, is magic. Not knowing exactly what’s going to happen and taking that step anyway, is magic! Because you learn and you get better.
Doing something when you are scared is not comfortable. It’s not easy. And it’s not natural. So I don’t blame you for second-guessing things or waiting until the time is “just right” or procrastinating. But the reality is that the best way to learn is through action, and here are 11 things that happen when you begin doing shit that is uncomfortable, but a step in a direction of a big goal you have:
1) People respect doers.
How true is this? My little brothers call all talk and no action, “chirpin'” as in, it’s for the birds. There’s nothing less inspiring or more boring than someone talking about what they are going to do but never take action on. I get it, because action is scary. But at some point, you need to STFU and do, because there is nothing more powerful than watching someone with their head down grinding. Even if they don’t make a huge impact, or they are working on a small scale, so what. Taking action, doing something consistently, day in and day out is respectable. I watched my mom get up and go to her corporate job for 35 years, wearing suits every day and working her way up in the company only to retire at 55. That’s what I’m talking about. She’s definitely one of my heroes and someone who’s work ethic I look up to. For me, the work environment looks a little different — but #GSD will always be a huge value of mine.
2) Actions leads to competency, which leads to confidence, which leads to more competency. Rinse and repeat.
This is the Confidence-Competence Loop, a feed-forward cycle where your ability to take action gives you the confidence to continue to take more. The fastest way to jump into the loop is to do anything. Act. This is why I tell my BOY gals all the time to “go through with it anyway” and “press publish” even if you are unsure, scared and uncertain of the outcomes. You’ll never be able to predict exactly what will happen. But the more you do, the more confident you’ll become that whatever the outcome, you can handle it.
3) You can objectively investigate to learn what works and what doesn’t.
Taking action is essentially troubleshooting. If you take the emotion out of trying, then the outcomes you attain can be assessed clinically and usefully. Think about it — it’s the labels we put on the outcomes that have us scared: “This happened and that means I suck,” or “What if this happens, and it seals my fate as a failure?” Um, aren’t these labels our choices? Don’t we have a say in how we perceive a mess-up, obstacle or struggle? Just because we experience a failure doesn’t mean we are a failure. In fact, most successful people have failed 10 times more than they’ve succeeded. It’s so cliche: “I failed my way to success,” but we’re still not listening ;) It’s true for a reason! The key here is to use action as a way to ascertain what does and does not work, objectively. And the more decisions you make, the more opportunities you have to figure out what does work.
“Just make more decisions. They don’t have to be the right ones, but make more of them and you’ll learn.” ~Seth Godin
4) You get super comfy with failure, and it builds your resiliency.
My friend Amber Rae told me this story about a friend of hers in college. He was with his buddies, all freshmen, and super scared to go up and talk to girls. What if they got rejected? How humiliating! Their fear about rejection kept them from … not talking to any girls! So they made a wager: the first guy to round up 100 rejections wins this pot of money. They took what they were scared of and made it the goal. Besides, they were all doing it together and they’d win money the more they “failed.” Guess what happened? They started talking to many girls. And over that time … THEY GOT REALLY GOOD AT APPROACHING GIRLS. So much so that not only did they not fear it anymore, but they built their confidence along the way to the point that they barely got rejected anymore. I love this story because it reinforces to me the concept of moving toward your fears and leaning into your struggles. You are going to have them. We all do. And let’s just get this out there: you are going to fail. Many times. But every time you do, you have that chance to bounce back and improve. If there’s one characteristic that I think all courageous and successful people have, it’s resiliency. They don’t let a transient struggle hold them back from trying again. When you act, you don’t always hit a home run, but at least you are playing the game.
5) MORE action happens … and it compounds.
When you start taking action, everything else happens. All the next steps happen. But you can’t get to those next steps without going through step #1. Which is really hard. I liken taking action in a new direction to pushing a boulder up a hill. It takes a lot of effort and you’re not making much visible progress, which of course makes persistence even harder. But at some point, little by little, you reach the top, and roll the boulder over the peak. Then, everything else starts happening. The effort you put in way back starts working for you. There’s momentum and all the good will and work you put in earlier begins compiling. It’s the “compound effect” via Darren Hardy (incredible book BTW, ‘The Compound Effect’). So take solace in the fact that at some point, your efforts pay off and they actually exponentiate.
6) You get over procrastination and perfectionism.
Like Jeff Walker says, “Perfectionism is an excuse to justify procrastinating.” When you start taking action, you get really good at not giving a shit if it’s perfect. You see the greater value in just acting, because you know that you can always figuring out the pieces on the fly. You can always put out fires as you go. This practice also lends itself well toward building your self-trust. You may not be able to predict outcomes, but you can always rely on yourself to work through whatever happens as a result of those actions.
7) You give others permission to try, too.
This comes down to relatability. Have you ever seen someone you know have a success? Maybe do something that you have always wanted to do? And since you “knew them way back when,” it’s easier to picture their trajectory being yours too? Because you are the same. We all are. We all have the same opportunity to choose what we do next, beginning from our current spot. Every single person who is successful at something started off not being successful at it. And when you act, and make moves, others can see themselves doing it too. And furthermore, you’ll likely have the opportunity to mentor someone who comes along and wants to take action the way you did — which is an incredibly fulfilling thing for both you and them!
8) It gives you an opportunity to own your values and take a stand in a bigger way.
Action commits you, doesn’t it? Which on one hand can be scary because it usually means more responsibility and accountability — one reason we may actually fear success. But on the other hand, what an opportunity to show others, but more importantly affirm to yourself the things that you stand for? When you act, you’re drawing a line in the sand. You’re putting your chips down. This is incredibly empowering! Remember, the first decision is always the hardest. Once you make that first decision, after that it’s just a series of decisions because you’ve committed to a specific path. Follow it, own it, honor it.
9) It teaches you to be proactive, instead of reactive in your life.
For me, action is the THE THING that puts me in my power. It reminds me that I always have a say in my life. I can always control my attitude and my effort. Conversely, when I view the world as a place where things happen to me, and people are inherently ill-willed and life is unkind and I can never get a leg up, I am that much less motivated to do anything. I convince myself that what I do doesn’t matter, so it’s easier to give up. THIS IS A MINDSET. This is a possibility mindset (as opposed to a preventative mindset). And you consciously choose your perspective every day, every moment. Only one of them serves you.
10) You train yourself to stay open to outcomes, and not attached to them.
My sister-in-law and good friend Jillian Teta gave me this little piece of wisdom: stay open to outcomes, not attached to them. I think we get in trouble when we take action with the expectation that the outcome will be linear and predictable. It never is. But we want it to be, and when it’s not, we get frustrated, overwhelmed and give up (see resiliency above). The key here is that we can never predict outcomes, but we can always, ALWAYS control how we perceive the outcome. Think about it. Has there ever been a time in your life when things didn’t go as planned and you struggled? You can probably look back on that time now and say, “Geez, that was tough, but it was for the best. I’m grateful for that experience.” We all have instances of that. This is a good thing. It reminds us that all struggles are transient and like Byron Katie says, “We never get more than we can handle.” Whoa, how hard is this to practice?? But in my experience, it’s true. You are enough. You can figure it out. You are powerful. You can adjust. You can learn and improve. You can endure. And when you stay open to outcomes, and not attached to them, you can see all the amazing opportunities and insights you might not have experienced without the tough stuff.
11) Shit gets done!
Lol. But seriously. Things you say you want actually start coming to fruition. You have something you want to do, something you’ve always wanted to do. And now you are taking steps to do it. Amazing. The alternative? Staying small and secure and scared and comfy. No judgment, but remember, nothing works unless you do. And how amazing is it to see outcomes where there weren’t any before? It’s magical!
And finally, one insight to remember — this is my back-pocket tool — take comfort knowing the old way will always be there for you if you need it! You can always go back to the your comfort zone, it’s not going anywhere. This takes a lot of the risk out of trying something new. You can test things out and then watch. I have a sneaking suspicion you won’t be needing it because action begets more action, but mentally keep this ace up your sleeve while you go an conquer!
That’s it for me! As always, be sure to let me know what you think on the JillFit Facebook page! Xo, Jill