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“Screw it, just get on and do it.”

Just-Do-It-Now“As everyone around him was filling the air with business buzzwords and talking about complex ideas for mapping out our future, Branson was saying things like: ‘Screw it, just get on and do it.'” -James Clear, Successful People Start Before They Feel Ready

Entrepreneur, weightlifter, and travel photographer, James Clear, recently wrote an inspiring blog post on Richard Branson, the founder and chairman of Virgin Group, about the importance of taking action before you feel ready. I strongly recommend you read his post here.

Here are some of my favorite highlights with my own thoughts to follow:

Branson doesn’t merely say things like, “Screw it, just get on and do it.” He actually lives his life that way. He drops out of school and starts a business. He signs the Sex Pistols to his record label when everyone else says they are too controversial. He charters a plane when he doesn’t have the money.

When everyone else balks or comes up with a good reason for why the time isn’t right, Branson gets started.

If you want to summarize the habits of successful people into one phrase, it’s this: successful people start before they feel ready.

If you’re working on something important, then you’ll never feel ready. A side effect of doing challenging work is that you’re pulled by excitement and pushed by confusion at the same time.

You’re bound to feel uncertain, unprepared, and unqualified. But let me assure you of this: what you have right now is enough. You can plan, delay, and revise all you want, but trust me, what you have now is enough to start. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to start a business, lose weight, write a book, or achieve any number of goals… who you are, what you have, and what you know right now is good enough to get going.

We all start in the same place: no money, no resources, no contacts, no experience. The difference is that some people — the winners — choose to start anyway.

I think the point Clear is trying to make here is that “readiness” is an illusion whether you emotionally feel like you’re ready or not.

In any craft or line of work, there are unpredictable factors and forces that one cannot anticipate, or prepare for, through research, training, analysis, and planning.

There are certain lessons necessary for success that don’t begin until you 1) engage the world through action and 2) receive feedback from the world in direct response to the actions you’ve taken.

Readiness is not an emotion. It’s not something you should strive to feel as a prerequisite for taking creative risks.

No matter how you feel, you’re not ready for something until you do it.

A friend of mine recently shared the following Arthur Ashe quote with me:

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

One could easily retort by saying “That all sounds great, but starting things before you’re ready wont necessarily yield success.”

This objection would be a moot point, however, because that same observation is also true of any piece of advice one could possibly give about any subject.

The insight to be gleaned here is not that starting is some sort of insurance against failure, but that moving forward before you have answers to all your questions is a part of what it means to prepare.

There are plenty of unsuccessful people who started before they felt ready, but there are no successful people who felt fully prepared before they actually started doing the work.

Zig Ziglar said it best:

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

This Post Has 7 Comments
  1. Overplanning can become running in place. I know because it’s something I must guard against regularly. I’m often most productive when there’s a crisis in my life because I’m forced to adopt Branson’s attitude.

  2. You quoted Zig Ziglar who has said many quotable comments during
    his lifetime.

    Believe another of his comments about “just do it” is to “Learn a little
    and go a lot.”

    Another good suggestion I heard from a business course is:
    “Don’t overanalyze to paralyze.”

    Combined with James Clear’s “2-Minute Rule” to avoid procrastination
    should be “good to go.”

    1. I really miss Zig. He truly left a legacy that has inspired millions. My first job after college was as a financial adviser. I remember being so nervous about the sales aspect of my work. One day, I saw a book called “Secrets of Closing the Sale” by Zig Ziglar. I picked it up, started reading, and was immediately drawn in to hos world of humor, storytelling, and appreciation. His words soothed me into such a state of relief I’ll never forget. He delicately dismantled all my disempowering assumptions about what it means to sale something and he helped me go to work with a sense of mission. I like those quotes you shared by him. Zig never gets old for me. “Learn a little and go a lot” is huge for me at this time in my life as strive to creatively challenge myself like never before.

      1. Yes, Zig Ziglar is sorely missed. I had the privilege of listening to some of his
        audio tapes many years ago. And his famous byline: “I’ll see you at the top.”
        He truly wants people to succeed. Very inspirational.

        In ways we aren’t even conscious of, we’re selling: Ourselves, our ideas, our
        products… And outside of a cave, a bone, a hank of hair, and a bear skin rug,
        everything else is a created need. From flint tools to iPod’s. Wow.

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