I’ve written a lot about the importance of acting sooner rather than later and not taking an inordinate amount of time to plan every small detail in advance. Nothing says this more succinctly than the old aphorism: Money loves speed.
When I mentioned this in a recent seminar, one of the attendees asked me if I could be more specific. He wanted to know why money loves speed.
First off, let me say that this is not just true about money. It’s true in virtually all areas of life.
- If you want to buy tickets from a scalper for a big game that’s sold out, get there first. Tickets love speed.
- If you want a job that you just heard was available, get there first. Jobs love speed.
- If you want to get the male or female who has your heart jumping out of your chest, get there first. Prospective lovers love speed.
- If you want to get the investment property that just came on the market, get there first. Investment properties love speed.
So it’s not just money. Success in all areas of life loves speed. I don’t recall ever succeeding at something because I got there last.
So let’s rephrase the question: Why does success love speed? The answer is to be found in the dictionary. Action is defined as “the causation of change.” Whatever result you’re after, it’s a change from what you now have. By definition, then, a change has to take place for you to get from where you are now to that result.
Following are some of the more important reasons why I believe action begets results.
- When you do too much planning, there’s a tendency to overthink everything and come up with too many reasons why what you’re contemplating won’t work. Of course, many of the reasons you come up with may be correct. But it doesn’t matter, because as you move forward, circumstances continually change, and those changes often render irrelevant many of the concerns you may have had before taking action.In other words, don’t try to figure out steps two, three, and four before taking step one. The legendary Joe Karbo once told me that he ran his first ad for The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches (a million-copy seller) before he even began to write the book! In fact, he told me that the ad he wrote served as an outline for the book itself. Try explaining that to a mainstream publisher.
- When you procrastinate, you tend to lose your enthusiasm. That, in turn, causes homeostasis to set in. Homeostasis is the tendency to live with existing conditions and avoid change. As a result, you get comfortable with the way things are and allow your great idea to fade into the comfort zone of oblivion.But when you take action, your creative juices flow faster, your resourcefulness kicks into high gear, and the things, people, and circumstances you need to accomplish your objective are drawn to you almost like magic. This is not hocus-pocus I’m talking about here. I’ve done it enough times to be able to assure you that it really works.
- Even though changing circumstances often negate many initial concerns you may have had about a project, they can also place new obstacles in your path. As a result, if you wait too long before taking action, the opportunity may become less and less appealing to you as those new obstacles start to make their appearance.I wrote about this danger in Winning Through Intimidation under the moniker of the Fiddle Theory, which states: The longer you fiddle around with a deal, the greater the odds that it will never close.
Time is your ally when you take action, but time is also a two-sided coin. If you hesitate or procrastinate, time becomes your worst enemy. As a general rule, I have found that if I take action, perceived problems tend to disappear. On the other side of the coin, the more I hesitate, the more time I give new obstacles to make their appearance.
- But perhaps the most important reason of all for taking action now is that time is finite. No matter how prolific you are, you can only accomplish so much in your lifetime, even under the best of circumstances. Every second that’s wasted reduces the totality of what you can accomplish by one second.
Some people believe that a constant feeling of urgency to accomplish more is unhealthy because it creates stress, but I find the opposite to be true. I feel more stress when I procrastinate — when I’m not doing what I know I should be doing. There’s not a worse feeling in the world than to be conscious of the fact that your finite supply of time is ticking away while you’re focusing on cleaning out your desk drawer.
Of course, nothing in life is perfect. There will be times when moving too fast can end up hurting you. But, on balance, my own experience has convinced me that what I gain from moving quickly far outweighs the losses I sometimes incur as a result of not taking the time to plan more carefully.
One final point: When you stumble — and you will stumble — don’t allow it to make you timid. Remember, success loves action, so get in the habit of picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and quickly taking more action. I don’t recall ever hearing a successful person say, “When the going gets tough, the timid get going.”