“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.”