03/18/13

The Art of the Start

Getting started is often the hardest part of any new endeavor. Here are two time-proven techniques which will help you get started.

The first step is always the hardest. Making that leap of faith into the unknown. Humans are hardwired to avoid uncertainty; at one point in our evolution it was crucial for our species' survival. The little voice in your head will give you hundreds of reasons why you should wait just a little bit longer, gather just a bit more data and evidence, get just a tad bit more certainty, feel just that tiny bit more confident. And so we end up never starting.

Fret not - this is human. We all feel like this when we set out to do something we haven't done before. Be it embarking on the entrepreneurs journey, taking a new job or starting a project in our community.

Over the years I have come to appreciate two simple principles which, alone and combined, help you tremendously winning that inner battle:

The "Bird in Hand Principle": Start with your means. Don't wait for the perfect opportunity. Start taking action, based on what you have readily available: what you are, what you know and who you know. There is never an excuse to not start - if the 15 year old Jack Andraka can develop a new method to detect pancreatic cancer, so can you start your endeavor. Start with what you have, the rest will come.

The "Principle of Affordable Loss": Don't be guided by thoughts of how wonderful the rewards might be if you were spectacularly successful at any given next step. Instead ask how big the loss would be if you failed. So long as it would be tolerable, that's all you need to know. Take that next step, and see what happens.

Here's your challenge: Identify your "bird" and do a thorough analysis of your potential losses. I bet you money that you have everything to get started and nothing which should hold you back.