The Toby Keith Guide to Closing the Execution Gap

Thank God for country music.

Especially Toby Keith’s song, “A Little Less Talk And A Lot More Action.” Sing it with me:

“I was getting kinda tired of her endless chatter. Nothing I could say ever seemed to matter. And I knew somewhere amid all this distraction, was a little less talk and a lot more action.”

LESSON LEARNED: Too many businesspeople are accustomed to a steady diet of blah-blah-blah; when what they (should) engage in is a daily discipline of go-go-go.

What about you? Do you give people lip service or foot service? Here’s a list of ideas to help you close the execution gap:

1. Plan is a four-letter word. Planning paralyzes action. Planning straightjackets success. Planning blinds vision. And failure doesn’t come from poor planning – but from the timidity to proceed. And yet, people still obsess over it. Why? Because planning preserves their sense of control.

The problem is, planning is a big decision. And big decisions cause you to prematurely commit to a trajectory that (might) later prove to be unprofitable. What’s more, over time, the more you plan; the harder it becomes to invite healthy derailments. And that’s how you miss unlabeled opportunities to grow: When you’re too busy managing the stress of planning to count the money of executing.

The secret isn’t to evade the future. Or refuse to admit that obstacles will mount. Rather, to plunge forward planless – but with a compelling vision as your parachute. As I learned from Rework, “Just get on the plane and go. You can pick up a nicer shirt, shaving cream and a toothbrush once you get there.”

Remember: Planning is the polar opposite of improvisation. And when you stop improvising, you stop monetizing. Are you blindly following a plan that has no relationship with reality?

2. Take no for an answer. Did you know that the word, “No” is a complete sentence? Yep. If you want to close the execution gap, learn to bring this beautiful sentence to the forefront of your vocabulary. And, learn to stop being apologetic for what you delete from your life.

Bolster entrepreneurial awareness by asking yourself, “Is this an opportunity or an opportunity to be used?” and “Is this an opportunity or a distraction in disguise?” That’ll keep the bloodsuckers, timewasters and energy vampires away.

That’ll also prevent you from shooting yourself in the foot. Because when you refuse to take no for an answer, you waste valuable time trying to force a yes that never going to happen. What attractive offer have you wisely turned down this week?

3. No more overanalyzing the inconsequential. It saps your energy, steals your time and spoils your initiative. Plus it drives your colleagues crazy. My suggestion: Stop investing energy in your fears. Let them go. Just because everyone else is freaking out about meaningless trivialities doesn’t mean you should too.

Instead, free yourself from the overwhelming sweep of collective panic. Don’t let widespread jealousy infiltrate your outlook. It’s a form of resistance, and it will creep into your attitude if you’re not careful. What consumes your time but doesn’t make any money?

4. Forget about your so-called competitors. Who cares what they’re doing now? Who cares what they’re doing next? Stop obsessing. Save the time and energy you would have spent worrying about things you cant control and reinvest it in making yourself stronger and smarter. Otherwise, by fixating on someone (or something) beyond your sphere of control, you lose unrecoverable time that could be devoted to becoming uniquely great.

But, if you remember the credo of Optimists International, you’ll be fine: “Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.” Focus less time making war on the competition and more time making love to the customer. You’ll win. When was the last time the competition stayed up all night worrying about you?

5. Locate your compass for finding what matters. Then, invest meaning there. You can decide on details later. For now, just go. Be intelligently impatient. Even when it seems senseless to others. Even when mistakes are inevitable. Don’t let yourself get lost in what doesn’t count. Nothing threatens your bottom line more than a preoccupation with the irrelevant.

The secret is to constantly ask yourself, “Ten years from now, what will I wish I had spent more time doing today?” Remember: Just because you work (diligently) on something doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to change anything. Are you creating things to do – right now – to avoid the important?

6. Establish a choice-making rhythm. First, decide how you’re going to decide. Physically write out your core operating values. Your personal constitution of daily non-negotiables. Then, create a governing document for daily decision-making. This exercise builds congruency in your behavior and assures stronger, more consistent and more aligned choices.

Once you’ve done the required prep work, the hard part is to keep the beat going. Like a metronome. Tick. Tick. Tick. And if you want to maintain your choice-making rhythm, keep asking yourself, “What can I (easily) do – right now – that’s good enough?” It’s that kind of imperfectionist attitude that closes the execution gap the quickest. Are you a great decider?

7. Abolish the excuse barrage. What’s your favorite excuse? Personally, I like to give people the old, “I have no excuse” excuse. Works every time. But all kidding aside, here’s the next strategy for closing the execution gap: Let action eclipse excuse.

Consider these three questions to help you do so. First: Is there anyone else who has the same excuse as you, but is moving ahead successfully nonetheless? Odds are, there’s at least three people out there like this. Have lunch with them. Find out what they’re doing differently that you could glean from.

Second: What lies are your excuses guarding? Yikes. Self-confrontation’s a bitch, huh? Still, it’s a solid move for pinpointing the lies you’re telling yourself. And if you’re willing to isolate the excuse-ridden undertow leading you out to sea, you’ll be one step closer to execution.

Third: Whom are you using an excuse? It’s dangerously easy to use other people as excuses for not accomplishing your goals. Your challenge is to walk the fine line between helpful feedback and hurtful resistance.

Otherwise you’ll bounce from excuse to excuse line a pinball machine. Except you won’t score any points and Pete Townsend won’t write a song about it. Test your excuses. That’s the only way the barrage will be beaten. What excuse are you falling in love with that’s preventing you from getting started?

8. Persevere through the low. In 2009 when The Great Recession kicked in, I actually considered the option of panicking. Fortunately, I didn’t – although I did think about it … hard. Instead, I learned to persevere by accepting what is, leveraging my downtime, keep support flowing, stir the pot and to find a use for every crisis.

Ultimately, economic downtime was the perfect vehicle for renewing my resourcefulness. What about you? Will you persevere through the low, or sit in a corner crying until the high makes a comeback?

I hope the latter. Because hardship is at the heart of execution. Better you hit bumps in the road and be projected forward than sail smoothly without realizing you’re (actually) standing still or worse, going backward. How are you building your resiliency?

REMEMBER: Even if you have zero competition, at a bare minimum, you’re always competing with inertia.

Maybe Toby Keith was right:

A little less talk if you please.
A lot more loving is what you need.
Let’s get on down to the main attraction.
With a little less talk and a lot more action.

How are you closing the execution gap?

For the list called,”11 Ways to Out Market the Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!


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