Why ‘Act Now, Think Later’ is NOT a Successful Strategy
To be a successful entrepreneur and founder, you need to act fast and think later… right?
This is what I thought when I went to university and was trying to figure out what to do with my life. As someone who likes to strategize and “think things through”, I assumed business ownership (in any form) wasn’t for me.
I was to follow, not lead.
So I got a job and tried to find my place in society, but it never felt right. I had to say yes when I wanted to say no. I had a good idea, but I had to listen to someone execute their bad idea. I annoyed people, and I grew more and more frustrated.
“But what’s the alternative?” I thought. “Some people are entrepreneurs and some are not. You, Mr. Turner, are not.”
This is what I would tell myself. I still do some days when self-doubt takes over. But then one day I decided to write, blog, and explore the online world. I met great people, and I began to notice not everyone had this “act fast, think later” attitude. And somehow, these reserved individuals still made money, grew sizeable audiences, and ran successful businesses.
“Maybe I can do this, after all,” I thought. “If they can do it, maybe you can too.” Now, this post isn’t about whether I was right to think that or not, or even if I am cut out for the entrepreneurial rollercoaster. Some days I believe I am, some days not so much.
No, what this post is about is my new belief that the “act now, think fast” approach isn’t always a good one. In fact, it often is not.
The Problem with Hustle is…
If there’s one thing the millennial generation seems to obsess over, it’s the ‘hustle’. Rather than focus on the actual result, we measure how fast we can go, how high we can jump, and how far into the night we can venture into.
We kid ourselves into thinking that if you work really really hard, success will follow. But working hard is stupid when you consider the alternative is to work smart.
Who cares if you work four hours or forty. If you can reach your goals and live a happy life, does it matter? In my opinion no, but it’s this ‘hustling mentality’ that tricks us into thinking we need to act now. Because unless you’re acting now, you’re wasting your time.
As if sparing a few seconds to think things through means you’re weak, unworthy, and outdated. I don’t understand this.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should never “act now and think later”. This doesn’t mean decisiveness and confidence and conviction is bad. These are all excellent qualities; necessary when you work for yourself, because you do need to take risk and you do need to make decisions (fast).
Done properly, this “‘act now, think later” mentality leads to a ‘lean’ approach to growth and a fail-fast outlook. I love this. This is where the magic lies.
Yet, this isn’t what I see most people on the front line do. Instead, I often find nothing but impulse.
I don’t like impulsiveness. Impulse leads to emotional decision making. It leads to fast-paced individuals listening to their gut. It leads to people who glorify the hustle, and justify it by doing this right now… and then doing this instead right now… and saying yes-yes-yes… and never stopping to ask: is this the “right” decision to make?
Your sole duty is to make the right decision as often as you can.
An Alternative To The Act Now Approach
There is another way. Best of all, a refusal to act now doesn’t mean you’re destined to become some strategic individual who sits on the fence.
You can commit to both act and think at the same time. Crazy, I know. But hear me out.
- Step #1: You come up with a new idea / have a decision to make…
- Step #2: Think — take a few seconds or minutes to consider what the right decision is…
- Step #3: Act — commit to taking some form of action (whatever it may be)…
This action could be deciding to sleep on your idea and making a firm decision the next day. This action could be to speak with someone else and seek an alternative opinion. This action could be to create a landing page and some ads and test your idea. This action may be to say “screw it” and go for it anyway.
Reserve time to “think” and then make a commitment to “act”. Because if all you ever do is act, you never give yourself the time to reflect. Whereas if all you ever do is take action, you never have the time to test your idea.
As with most aspects of life, there’s beauty in balance. Your balance is different to mine. We all have to find our own version of balance between thinking versus doing. One is not enough. We forget this.
I see too many people glorify the act of going full-force. A few weeks or months later, you will often see them all-in on another idea. And this, my friend, is nothing but chasing your shadow.
You chase success. You sprint for the finish line. You do anything for the shiny object just out of reach. You’re like a demented dog running after cars that come and go.
So instead of shining a bright light on how impulsive you can be, let’s instead honor how decisive you are. To be decisive means you have to take action and have conviction in your decisions. BUT it also asks you to think about them before you jump in head first and reflect on what the right decision is. A minor but important difference, and one that may just change your life forever.
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