Ok, so I ripped it from Nike, sue me, it works. Too often we get stuck in our own heads or fall back on ideas because we don’t have the skills, knowledge or capabilities to execute them. At least that’s what we’ve trained ourselves to think. The root of this problem lies within our own language, phrases like, “what if we” or “I’ve thought about doing that,” really mean “I have an idea we’ll never execute” and “I have no way to make this idea real.”
Abandon this talk immediately.
I’ve spent almost two years working at an agency, and only within recent months have I harnessed the art of just “doing it.” Like most of you, I told myself the same things. I finally asked myself why I never take initiative on my ideas, and the only answer I was able to come up with was, “I don’t know.” I realized great ideas aren’t just talked about, they are acted on. More than that, most of the big ideas like the iPhone are often executed without all the answers upfront. It’s a learn as you go process, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You shouldn’t expect perfection on the first run; that’s the flaw within it all. It’s less about being perfect and more about doing, learning and proving to yourself you can.
So, at this point you’re probably saying to yourself, “yea, but it’s not that easy to just do it.” Well…I can poke holes in that logic and show you. It really is as easy as it sounds.
“Well I’ve thought about that but haven’t had the time”
Let’s all admit, at one time or another we’ve been guilty of saying phrases like: “I don’t have the resources” or “that’s too complex to complete” and the most overused, “I don’t have time for that.” Fact of the matter is, it’s common to hear these phrases frequently. Don’t believe me? Keep a tally throughout the day, you’ll be surprised at how normal that talk is. Here’s a prime example. One day, I’m at lunch with coworkers and we’re talking about ideas we have. Someone stated, “We have all these great ideas, but we never execute them” To which we all replied with one of the excuses above. Except, this time was different, this time I actually analyzed the words that were coming out of everyone’s mouths and immediately called bulls%!t on us. We had trained ourselves to say these phrases automatically with little to no thought. It wasn’t a busy schedule or a lack of resources holding us back; we were the problem. Our language created a block on the projects before we could even get them started. There’s a saying, “if it’s important enough, you’ll find time for it.”
“Well I tried it out, but it didn’t work how I thought it would”
So you try an idea but it doesn’t quite work the way you think it will, what’s the worst case scenario? The world blows up? Unless you’re building nuclear bombs (I’m not going to judge), this won’t be the case. So, the worst thing that happens is you learn a whole lot about what to do, or not do, on the next go around. Thus improving your overall idea, and furthering your skills and knowledge on the topic. You’ve heard the saying, “you learn more from your failures than you do from your successes” well… It’s true.
“Tried out the idea and it worked well, but I have a couple changes I think could take it to the next level”
Remember I mentioned earlier not to aim for perfection? Think back to the last time you did something that worked well or the way you intended. I can almost guarantee you said something along the lines of, “Next time I should try….” That’s because no matter what you do, you’ll always want to make tweaks and adjustments. There’s nothing wrong with this process, it’s normal. It’s why Apple still releases new iPhones every other year. They’re learning as they go, and developing new ideas along the way, like the iPad.
A Recent Example
Here’s an example to show you how we recently used this mentality for good. This year our agency joined in on a fun competition amongst other creative agencies in the city. In the week leading up to the competition, I thought it would be an interesting idea to talk some competitive trash on our social platforms to ignite our opponents. We could have easily said, “it would be funny if we put out a video about…” and never executed it, but we didn’t. In fact, that afternoon I made a point to organize a small group to brainstorm some ideas. Two days later we shot the video. We ran it through the approval process within the agency, and then posted it to our platforms, tagging all the other agencies. The take away here? We didn’t need permission to execute an idea we had. We shot the video and said, if they approve it great, if they don’t then we won’t use it. No loss, and we learned a lot in the process. This video ended up getting roughly 320 views in the first day, that’s 320 people who saw something cool instead of me and my coworkers just talking over lunch about what it could have been.
Moral of the story, stop talking about it, don’t over think it, and just do it. What do you have to lose? You have a lot to gain from the entire process, start to finish, failure or success. My suggestion, start small and work your way up to the more daunting and overwhelming ideas.