I love the “Big Bang Theory”. It’s one of the few TV shows left that I actually take the time to watch these days. I feel that it’s one of the most unique and clever sitcoms in TV history, and to my surprise, it’s been going strong for years. (Who knew a show about Science nerds could last nearly a decade on network TV?) Anyway, I was catching up on last season’s reruns last week (I don’t have DVR, ah well!) when a topic of conversation at a dinner honoring Howard’s late mother came up (during a recreation of an 18th-century-like Salon, suggested by Raj) that caught my attention. And it was one that wound up making Sheldon and Leonard break down into a childish playground-like spat, and the topic was this:
What is more important, the idea or the execution?
Well! That sounds familiar to me, of course! Because that’s exactly what I teach. That’s exactly what I do. That’s….well, that’s exactly me. Right there. I help people with BOTH of those things.
I knew I tuned in last Thursday night for a reason!
So listening to the fictional Caltech scientists and their friends debate that VERY weathered argument got the ideas flowing in my world, too. What IS more important, the idea or the execution? (Sheldon argued for the execution while Leonard insisted the idea came first, pretty much stemming from the rift that set off the episode, but that’s another story…) Aside from the BBT crowd, I’ve heard this being debated around creative entrepreneurial circles for-ev-er. And everyone seems to have an opinion. You gotta take action. No, you have to have inspiration, it’s all mindset. NO, nothing happens without action. But NO, nothing good happens if it isn’t inspired and you just quit anyway. And on and on it goes. So who wins this one?
My answer? And it might be slightly irritating, but here it is…..
Both. But then again, it’s not quite that simple, either.
So….what does THAT mean, you may ask? And don’t you just LOVE it when I don’t give a straight answer? Well, hang on, it’s coming…..(really, I promise!)
So…..Your idea. It has to be the cornerstone of everything, right? Something that you love dearly, something that you’d not hesitate to take joyful action on any time, day or night, 24/7/365, you love the darn thing so much. Simple enough, right?
Well….sometimes the perfect idea doesn’t quite materialize when you swish and flick your wand and yell “Accio!” (yes, I’m feeling some Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Geek-dom today, can’t you tell?). Sometimes it reveals itself slowly. Sometimes it only drops hints, leaves clues. Sometimes it takes time. Sometimes it seems like it’ll never freaking show up.
That’s where the action comes in. I know this to be true more than anything because…to get to my big idea, I went through a lot of action. And trial. And error. And an awful lot of LOOONG pauses in between action steps (REALLY long ones, let me tell you!). I tried a lot of things that flopped. Jumped in and did things I really didn’t like that much just to see where it might lead. Did a lot of things that were OK for a while. But fizzled.
But the thing is, I just kept trying things. Just kept going. I tried it all. Career changes. Went back to school. Took this course. That course. Started this business. That business. And lalalalala….most of the time it seemed to lead me back to where I started.
Or so it seemed.
It took some time and a LOT of action, but wouldn’t you know, it happened. The pathway–the truest one that would only have sounded like so much New Age-fluff to me after numerous flops–finally showed up. (Actually, I found out that it was there all along, but I’ll tell you about that some other time…). And now here it is, the idea that I love so much I that I bring it with me on vacation. And how did I find it? Did it just magically appear one day? Well….actually, yes, it did….in a way. But here’s the thing: it appeared because I just kept trying things. It appeared because I got clearer every time I took action. It appeared because I just kept believing that it would appear, as long as I kept not only looking for it but also trusting that it would show up at the right time. (As hard as that was so many times along the way!!)
So you see, it was BOTH Inspiration and Action–it was both mindset, love, AND elbow-grease–that made things happen.
And THAT, my friends, is MAGICAL in itself.
If your big idea has come to you in all its glory, (or it has simply shown up and said “hi” not necessarily with choruses of trumpets and angels), well, that’s GREAT! You’re one of the lucky ones. Run with it. Because I bet you have the inspiration do to it. But for many of us, it just takes some tries. Some go-rounds with the hints and clues we’ve been given. In other words, taking ACTION with what we know in the moment and seeing what comes of it.
So while inspiration can bring clarity, if the inspiration hasn’t come just yet, the ACTION can lead to clarity. Which leads to…inspiration. Which leads to…..more action! Funny how that big circle works, huh?
So let’s see if I have this right: to take action you need inspiration but inspiration requires clarity, and to get clarity you need to take action. WHEW! One…big…circle.
But it doesn’t have to be easier said than done! What do I suggest when either inspiration OR action is lacking, leaving you stuck in neutral?
–Look at your options. Look at the hints you’ve been given. Where are they directing you? Take a good look at all of the things you’ve been considering as possible business endeavors. All of them. Don’t judge, don’t censor, just get it all out there.
–Now, look at ONE possibility. Yes, just ONE for now. Entertain it. See what it brings. And go for just ONE at a time. Don’t juggle. I repeat–don’t juggle. Unless you’re part of a traveling circus or a street show in Paris, that gig just won’t end well. (And note–you don’t have to stay with this one choice forever. If you can tell it won’t work, don’t hesitate to try something else! But DO just focus on one thing at a time, even if it is a short time.)
–Take ONE action step surrounding this option. See how it feels. If it is feeling like a good move, take another. Put these said action plans on the calendar and make them happen.
—As you’re taking action, take note on how everything feels to you. Does it feel right? Note that I didn’t say that it has to feel good, necessarily. It doesn’t have to be warm and fuzzy to be right. It just has to be right. It could simply be something that you know needs to happen. Sometimes these things can be downright scary. Other times tingly and giddy-exciting. But the point is to feel what is right. If it feels right, keep moving.
–Take a checkpoint or two along the way and see what you’re creating. Is it leading you to more answers, more action, and more creation? If so, great! If it’s time to chuck it all and look at another possibility, that’s OK too.
(And note that sometimes this process can take several days, several weeks, or even several years…other times it can take just several hours! It’s all OK. Just take the steps. It can be adjusted to whatever your situation is–pretty cool like that!)
So in the end……I won’t say that action trumps inspiration, but action certainly can BRING inspiration! So when in doubt, jump in and do something. But listen to that action. Pay attention to what is coming up because of it. That’s the most important part of taking action, as far as I’m concerned: seeing and feeling what it brings and taking it from there.
And if you’re struggling with it all, DON’T give up! Just take it all a step at a time–keep moving and keep paying attention to what happens when you move. And good things will start to happen.
So now I want to hear from you–what is harder for you? Coming up with a jump-out-of-your-skin crazy-awesome idea that makes you want to charge the hills and get stuff done, or jumping in anyway when your idea feels just so-so? Have you found ways to do both successfully? I want to hear it! And feel free to chime in on Leonard and Sheldon’s debate, too! (Can’t let the BBT folks have all the Salon-inspired fun, now can we?)
Until Next Time!