failure successOver the past 25 years, I’ve learned some things about how I work. Not how I do my job, but how my mind, my motivation, and my driving forces actually work. I’ve also been fortunate enough to recognize my weaknesses, those obstructions to success that keep me stuck where I am instead of where I want to be.

One of the biggest weaknesses I’ve realized about myself is the disconnect between planning and execution. Planning and strategy are largely cerebral, they exist as the ideal within the mind and are largely unchallenged by practicality and reality. Planning represents promise and opportunity. Proper planning convinces you (and, very often, your investors) that your idea is worth pursuing.

But planning is only 5% of the battle.

Execution, on the other hand, is the other 95%. Execution transforms thought into action, creating something that previously existed only within your mind’s eye. If planning convinces you that your idea is worth pursuing, execution reflects that pursuit. And at the end of the day, you won’t be judged by your planning or strategy. You will be judged, regardless of how you define success, by the execution of your planning.

Great ideas are more common than most people realize; what is uncommon is the dedication to chase those great ideas down despite all obstacles and carry them to fruition. Truly successful people are not only intelligent, organized, and can see things at the macro and micro-level but they also have the necessary discipline and dedication to stay motivated when (not if, when!) their ideas seem to falter. In other words, they understand the delicate balance between planning and execution. Above I claimed that planning is only 5% of the battle; you may argue I underestimate the value of planning but I use this to prove a point. Most successful people don’t fail because of a lack of preparation or planning. Most people don’t fail because they chased a bad idea. Most people fail as a result of a failure of execution.

This failure of execution manifests in countless ways in our personal and professional lives. How many people sign up for gym memberships, define their workout schedule, and never step foot in the gym? How many unhappy people browse job openings and say “I’d be perfect for this position” without ever submitting a resume? How many domains have been registered with high hopes of becoming the next hot blogger only to trail off after 3 months?

Truly successful people know what it’s like to fail. And fail again. They know what it’s like to abandon what seemed like a good plan when it can’t be properly executed. They understand that even with the right planning and execution, external circumstances may hinder their success. Successful people see the forest for more than the trees, they look beyond the individual successes and failures and seek authentic growth for their vision. They plan, execute, evaluate, change the plan, execute again, and evaluate again. They invest, not just in time or money but in themselves, in their ideas, both planning and execution. Truly successful people understand that neither success nor failure can be achieved without execution, and that both in the short term offer valuable insights into future planning.

Whether your goals are personal, professional, or some hybrid of the two, always remember the best course of action in the pursuit of success is just that: action.


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