Doers win. Walt Disney had no idea the Disney company would become what it is today when he released the iconic short animation film Steamboat Willie in 1929. Disney went on to take some very large risks in building the brand we know so well. He bet nearly everything he had, nearly all of his personal wealth, on his first animated feature film, Snow White, which was released in 1937. It was produced at a cost of $1.4 Million, about $24 Million in today’s dollars. Fortunately, it was a great success. The project and subsequent ones like it all had inherent risks, setbacks, financial and other challenges. Walt Disney’s vision of what could be and the drive to see it through despite innumerable challenges built the Disney brand. He is probably best known for buying some swamp land in Florida and turning it into Walt Disney World. The brand he built continues to endure 50 years after his death.
“The best way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.”
Dreamers win bigger. Disney was not alone as a leader with big dreams. Throughout history, leaders with a bias towards action and big dreams have accomplished what others thought impossible. Some of today’s examples include Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Mark Zuckerberg. These leaders are all well-known for what their companies have achieved. These leaders influenced their companies, industries, marketplace, and the world. Their products and services have changed how we live, how we access and acquire goods, and how we spend our time. All of them have started projects not knowing how they would be completed or what the final outcome would be. They started them not knowing from where they would get the capital and without having the needed expertise. They had to adapt their plans, perhaps, hundreds of times to get to the outcomes we see today. They faced many setbacks but kept moving forward. Their vision, determination, and resourcefulness continue to drive them forward. Some of them are hoping to take their vision to other worlds. Musk, Bezos, and Branson, for example, are each involved in commercial space flight projects. Musk recently announced his desire to colonize Mars.
“All of them have started projects not knowing how they would be completed or what the final outcome would be.”
Destination Unknown. Good leaders understand that leadership is a journey rather than a destination. To accomplish something of significance, you have to play the long game. Going long means committing yourself to the long-term process of building something great. You take small steps towards big dreams. You consistently pursue the talent, resources, capital, and expertise you need over a long period of time to be successful. You build processes and capabilities that will support your short and long-term outcomes. You find ways to create value at every step of the way so that people continue to buy-in to your dream. And you fight through obstacles and setbacks. The latest hurdle will make you stronger when you overcome it. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos understands that he has to play the “long game” in pursuing his goals.
“I always tell people, if we have a good quarter it’s because of the work we did three, four, and five years ago. It’s not because we did a good job this quarter.”
-Jeff Bezos, Chairman and CEO, Amazon.com
Decisive Action. Having a bias towards taking action is an uncommon trait. Most people I interact with have great ideas but struggle with taking the early steps to see them happen. The excuses for inaction are many. “The risk is too high. I don’t have the experience, expertise, talent, or resources. We have not built the processes to support the business. I don’t have the money.” Risk avoidance and fear keep people from acting. Pursuing a new business, dream, or an idea is a process of “ready, fire, aim.” There is no such thing as certainty. Many times you must take action and then figure things out as you go. You do what you can to mitigate risk but you move forward not knowing what will happen. We all must face fear and overcome it. (More on facing fear here.) Even if the resources aren’t present there are still steps that can be taken that move you towards your goal. Sometimes you succeed and sometimes you don’t meet your expectations but you still learn from the process. I have found that very few things, even if “unsuccessful”, are a waste of time because of what I learn from them.
“Pursuing a new business, dream, or an idea is a process of “ready, fire, aim.” There is no such thing as certainty.”
If you’re reading this, I already know you are a leader. I don’t know what dreams or ideas you may have but it is my hope to encourage you to act on them and not let uncertainty and risk stop you from finding a way forward. To do less is to neglect the gift that is in you to lead, to make a difference, and to change the world. There is someone in the world that needs what only you can offer. In the end, you have to “get on with it.” If I can help, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“To do less is to neglect the gift that is in you to lead, to make a difference, and to change the world!”
By Alan Buttery
Visit http://www.leadershipfirsts.com/ for more information.