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How to turn great ideas into great results: why we struggle to get started

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As leaders and managers, we often have a secret dream of finding the one great idea that will turbo-charge our teams and deliver extraordinary results. But we just don’t know how to get started.

Why it can be so hard to get started: we're stuck in a rut

Back in the days of travelling by wagon, being stuck in a rut meant being literally unable to change course, unless you took everything off the wagon and lifted it out of the grooves in the road before repacking. 

These days, we use the phrase metaphorically, but it doesn’t mean there’s any less effort involved if we want to get out of the rut and onto a new path. Often, it just feels easier to stay stuck in the rut. At least you know where you’ll be headed. And there’s a form of comfort in being able to say, “Well, I couldn’t do it anything else, because I was stuck in a rut”.

There are many reasons for this “stuckness”, and there are many ways to overcome it. The glorious messiness of humanity means that there is no one single reason that we get stuck, nor one single way to get unstuck.

Photo of an empty wagon cart with wheels stuck in a rut

This article provides a high-level overview of topics I’ll be covering in this series. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences of when you’ve been stuck, and how you’ve gotten unstuck. Drop a note in the comments section, or email me.

Seven reasons you might be struggling to get started

You don't know where to start

You’ve probably had the experience, when faced with a massive restaurant menu, of thinking, “There are too many options! How can I decide?” That’s what’s known as ‘choice overload’. When we have too many options, we struggle to make a decision, and we feel less satisfied with the decision we eventually make. So, when you’ve generated a bunch of great ideas (how to do this is the topic of an earlier series), you’ll probably have so many options that you don’t know where to get started.

Solution: Prioritise your ideas

You don't want a scatter-gun approach

There’s a great saying, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. There is so much wisdom in those eight words. Just because you can get started with any or all of your great ideas doesn’t mean that doing so will add value and deliver the results you desire. Putting a bunch of effort and resources into executing on an idea that doesn’t get you where you want to be isn’t helpful.

Solution: Align your actions to your vision

You aren't sure which ideas will work

Even once you’ve settled on the ideas that you think will take you in the direction we want to go, you still can’t be 100% sure they’re all going to work. That can be a huge barrier to face before you get started, especially if you’re having to ask for or obtain additional resources to implement them.

Solution: Experiment with the options

You need to win over doubters

By now, you’ve prioritised the ideas that you think are going to take you in the right direction, and you’ve run some experiments for proof of concept. But you won’t yet have convinced everyone of the value of your ideas. If you want to get started with a full-blown transformation, you need to show them that what you’re doing is adding value and getting you closer to achieving your vision and targets.

Solution: Set goals and track progress

It's too big to tackle alone

Most truly great ideas and transformations are bigger than one person, or even one team, can get started, let alone complete. With apologies to John Donne, no man (or woman, or team) is an island. There’s no sense in breaking yourself and/or your team trying to get things done on your own. And sometimes you don’t have the skills, knowledge, expertise or capability to do it all yourselves.

Solution: Involve others

You aren't sure you've got what it takes

“There is nothing good nor bad but thinking makes it so” Shakespeare

If you aren’t sure you’ve got what it takes, then you probably won’t even get started. Our mindset has a massive influence on our choices and results. If you have a limiting mindset, you will keep bumping up against its walls, no matter how hard you try. It is really difficult to see the shape of our mental prison cells from inside them.

Solution: Get a coach

You're struggling for energy and motivation

Changing the way we do things can be really exhausting. We often have to work in our areas of weakness (things we aren’t good at, that de-energise us) or learned behaviours (things we are good at, but drain our energy). No wonder we struggle to get started!

Solution: Use your strengths

The series: how to turn great ideas into great results

This is the first article in the series “How to turn great ideas into great results”. To be the first to hear when a new strategy is published, sign up to my weekly newsletter below.

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