5 Steps to Achieving Great Things

If you want to achieve really big things. The kinds of things that people believe to be difficult, improbable or even impossible.  It will require passion, purpose, planning and the ability to execute actions. To accomplish them you have to have a plan. That plan has to has to be fueled by passion. The plan has to have an ultimate purpose. Most importantly you have to have the discipline to take the actions necessary to achieve them.

It takes time to map out a plan and be purposed. However, you can’t plan forever, at some point you have to act. When you do, expect people to freak out on you. They will question you. They will tell you it can’t be done. Hell, they will even tell you that you are wrong or stupid. The best innovation comes when the goal you are reaching for is seen to by others as impossible to achieve. You have to have the courage to set a course and stick to it.

The things that are the most worth doing are the ones with the biggest risk. The more impossible or likely to fail the more worth doing something probably is. The only way to ultimately succeed is to take massive risk with the utmost of determination. Performing action while others stand by and mock, laugh or ridicule isn’t fun. It isn’t glamorous. It won’t win you friends.  However, it will allow you to achieve great things.

To achieve great things you need to do the following.

  1. Find what you are passionate about.
  2. Redirect that passion into a purpose. (what to achieve)
  3. Plan what it would take to fulfill that purpose.
  4. Execute the actions in your plan.
  5. Have the courage to stick to it until complete.

When you learn that the world is your oyster, then all have to do is just take it. When you understand that the only thing keeping you from doing the impossible is you, new doors open up. Fear can be replaced by action. Several actions chained together with purpose can do tremendous things.

It is important to remember that the most important achievements were done by someone taking some sort of action. Leonardo da Vinci expresses it well, “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

I urge you to stop trying to know everything. Stop just saying you are willing to make change. Instead, get up and start applying what you know and start doing the change you want to see.

Sunday Review: Extreme Programming Explained by Kent Beck

I have decided to do a dead simple book review every Sunday. Some of this is to just share what I’m reading. Rather than go with some complex rating system a book will either be a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Thumbs up means I highly recommend reading the book. A thumbs down means read something else unless you have free time on your hands. I will then do a one or two sentence at most comment on the book.
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Take Away: This is the current bible of good software development practices. Kent unchains the disciplined programmer by introducing him to the team.

Sunday Review: Practices of an Agile Develoeper by Andy Hunt

I have decided to do a dead simple book review every Sunday. Some of this is to just share what I’m reading. Rather than go with some complex rating system a book will either be a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Thumbs up means I highly recommend reading the book. A thumbs down means read something else unless you have free time on your hands. I will then do a one or two sentence at most comment on the book.
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Take Away: This is a great look at the spirit of Agile from a developer’s perspective.  The angel/devil reminders are a great re-enforcers of good/bad habits.

Sunday Review: The Dip by Seth Godin

I have decided to do a dead simple book review every Sunday. Some of this is to just share what I’m reading. Rather than go with some complex rating system a book will either be a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Thumbs up means I highly recommend reading the book. A thumbs down means read something else unless you have free time on your hands. I will then do a one or two sentence at most comment on the book.
thumbs-upThe Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)
Take Away: Saw Seth pitch this book at Tempe Improv and loved his delivery. Anything worth doing hits a rough patch (a dip), this book helps assess what to do when you find yourself there.

Sunday Review: Good To Great by Jim Collins

I have decided to do a dead simple book review every Sunday. Some of this is to just share what I’m reading. Rather than go with some complex rating system a book will either be a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Thumbs up means I highly recommend reading the book. A thumbs down means read something else unless you have free time on your hands. I will then do a one or two sentence at most comment on the book.
thumbs-upGood to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't

Take Away: Good historical view of some great companies over time. Wondering if some of the companies performance in last few years distracts from the book.

Oblivious To The Things You Do

Sometimes when you are in the heat of doing things you become completely oblivious to how things are being perceived by others.  At AgileOpenNorthwest we were talking about Agile software development and started to talk about Where Are Your Keys.  The discussion quickly became about understanding how we learn is so important to the skill set of the new economy.  Everyone started talking about the current broken educational systems.  At one point someone blurted out “What are we going to do? Change the educational system?”.  I answered, “Yes, we are.”.  Everyone at the table looked at me like I had three eyes.  I had just got on a plane to come to the conference directly from leaving our first Educational Unconference to change the educational system, so this seemed normal to me.

Take Away

When challenging the norm becomes your norm expect people to look at you funny.

1% Improvement Over Time Is Significant

Who wants to be 1% better?  Not very many people.

Who wants to be 50% better? Significantly more people.

Who wishes they could be perfect? Most people.

I had heard the quotes “Perfection not a destination, it is a journey that never ends” and “The longest journey starts with a single step”.  This is why I love the principles behind agile software development.  There are really only two imperatives.  Inspect and Adapt.  If you are regularly doing these two things you should be seeing some form of continuous improvement in what you are doing.

It took Agile Bob presenting “Being Agile vs Doing Agile” at the Phoenix SCRUM User Group (phxsug) to remind me of this very simple principle.  The hammer to drive the nail home was that if a team is doing 1 week iterations and improves 1% per iteration, they will see over a 50% improvement in the course of a single year.

Stop and think about that for just a minute.  50% improvement in a single year!  Can you imagine bench pressing 50% more 12 months now?  How about cutting 50% off your marathon time this year?  50% more push ups?  Reading 50% more?  Knowing 50% more people.  What about making 50% more money per year?

The problem is we try to make 50% improvement in single week instead of an incremental improvement as little as 1% and when we don’t, we give up and fall back into regular patterns of the status quo.  I challenge you to be 1% better this week.  Then the week after that and the week after that.

Hell.  Be Dangerous.  Consider yourself a 1%-er.  An outlaw to the status quo!