Ideas Are Cheap, Execution Is Gold

Do you have some good ideas? How about some really great ones? I bet you do.

You have a completely unique set of experiences and a personality that is 100% your own, and therefore you have formulated ideas in a way that no one else has before you. There may be similarities, but your ideas are unique. The value you bring to the world is unique. Your ability to make a difference in your life and the lives of others is unique.

And even if you sell a commoditized product, the way you bring it to market and serve your clients and customers can be unique.

Another thing is true at the same time: There are lots of ideas out there. Many will never see the light of day. The problem is not that the idea wasn’t good, it’s in the execution.

There are many who will never reach their full potential for the same reason. I call it the Momentum gap – and it is the gap between knowing the things to do and actually doing them.

I admit to struggles on the execution side over the years, especially when I was on a smaller team and my ideas were pretty much up to me to get done. I am an idea guy. I love dreaming up new ways of tackling a problem, casting a vision, creating strategic plans, putting marketing together, and getting a team moving forward. Those are strengths of mine. Then what worked amazingly well, I became a champion of execution and started coaching the members of my teams as they brought projects to completion. This allows me to spend more time in my strength zones and allows more skill building of the team and less micromanaging from me. The key is building great teams to execute the plans, because where I am most valuable is looking out at the horizon and determining what should be next, not in the weeds of the prior rollout.

If you are a solopreneur, the goal is to get yourself to a place where you can delegate the tasks that are not most important based on your role and skill level. One of the questions I love asking my coaching clients: What are the 3-5 most important things you need to accomplish to succeed in your role? Sometimes this hasn’t been considered and requires some thought. It’s a great place to start if you want to improve your ability to execute your own vision.

Once you create this list, you will have a list we will call the Momentum list, because these are the things that will help you develop powerful and positive Momentum towards your goals. Now you have the knowledge of what you ought to be doing more of.

The next part isn’t quite as fun. Make a list of all of the other things you do on a daily basis that need to get done, yet aren’t as important. If you’re like most people, this list will be exceedingly larger than your Momentum list. And the key is going to be to spend less time on these things and more time on your Momentum list.

Now that you have awareness, it’s time to consider different ideas on what the solution looks like. If you have a boss who needs to be part of this discussion, I always encourage considering solutions to problems that you can bring to your boss along with the problem. If you don’t already do this, I promise you will see great results with this approach (unless your boss thinks their way is the only way and doesn’t value input, which is another blog).

Different solutions for less important work might involve:

  • Someone else does this work
  • You manage your time and energy better to gain more effectiveness in getting this work done more quickly
  • You eliminate distractions from your day
  • Some low-priority/low-importance work may not get done at all anymore (again if you have a boss, this decision needs to be made in collaboration)

The goal is to reduce distractions AND the amount of time on work that isn’t Momentum building, to make room for more of the Momentum building work. I promise, there is always something there to reduce. There is always an improvement to be made in managing time and energy. Imagine what you could do with an extra 30 minutes per day on the more meaningful work.

Here’s a lack of execution story. I bet you have a similar one.

2009 was the year I decided I didn’t like to go grocery shopping much. My wife (girlfriend at the time) and I would put things on a list, and then one of us would go each week and grab the items. Sometimes it was all from one store, sometimes it was a combination. Anyway, my time wasn’t best spent wandering around a grocery store so I started thinking about an app that would take your list and organize it by store layout, so you would make your way through the store more efficiently. The app would also have a “pantry management” feature, and allow options for pick-up at the store or home delivery for a fee. Now, there were other features I won’t bore you with, but in 2009 this was a new concept. The idea of actually creating this was overwhelming to me. I had a good day job, so I didn’t do anything with it until 2014 when I took the notebook of ideas I had around this and brought a couple of friends into the fold. It was during our competitive analysis we tripped over a little company called Instacart, which was formed in San Francisco in 2012 and a few steps ahead of me in the execution of this idea.

So I went from overwhelmed to discouraged, and let the thing fizzle. I’m not proud of this sequence, but it did teach me some valuable lessons that have helped me better prepare for current endeavors and are applicable in many circumstances where execution is important (where is it not?):

  1. Have a great idea or vision for your team? Take action with urgency and intention.
  2. Start pulling together resources.
  3. To reduce overwhelm, figure out what are the most important steps to start, and get going on those. You can refine and correct, but the key is to start. (one bite at a time concept)
  4. Research, ask questions, and collect information on progress as soon as possible.
  5. Make adjustments.

I know so many people who had a big idea and never did anything with it. I also know quite a few people who need help reaching their potential from some ingrained self-limiting belief that’s holding them back. Let’s get past these hurdles.

“To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.” – Steve Jobs

And as for the courage part, even if there is something out there similar to what you are trying to accomplish, the gold is in the execution. Can you do it better, smarter, work harder, make the user experience better, and on and on? The answer is yes! Close that gap between knowing what to do, and actually doing it, and watch the Momentum grow in your business and life!

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