Getting The Boat Off The Dock

Tom Petty said, “the waiting is the hardest part.” But I would like to suggest that the starting is the hardest part. Whether you’re starting a new task, a project, or a new company, it’s really difficult when you’re heading out on a journey with no patterns to follow, no well-worn paths, and no clear maps to guide your way.

As we’re sitting on our metaphorical dock, planning our metaphorical journey, we can attempt to calculate forecasted wind speed. We can attempt to understand the tides and currents expected at various points in our journey. We can plot out a journey on our map and examine depth charts. We can try to plan our trip to minimize corrections, adjustments, and inefficiencies. But the deeper we get into the minutia of our planning, the more we identify new details and data to consider. How do we plan around existing traffic and slowdowns? What about the multitude of unexpected issues that may come up? Whales? Mermaids? Sea monsters? The more we plan, the more we feel unprepared. The more we plan, the more we panic. We get caught in analysis paralysis. How could we possibly plan for everything?

The answer is simple: don’t. Don’t plan for everything. Plan for what you can plan for. Then get the boat off the dock. Get into motion. Head out into the water and expect the unexpected. Have trust in your future self to deal with new issues as they arise. Have trust in yourself to continue to learn and make adjustments based on trial and error. In reality, there will be no direct line between point A and point B. It’s all a matter of course correction. Expect to remain present and adjust your heading as necessary.

Most of all, don’t feel bad when you need to course correct. These adjustments are simply a sign of progress. The worse problem is when you assume that you’ve planned for everything and, out of respect for your plan and the time that went into it, you fail to adjust your heading when things inevitably fall off course. Course correction is not an admission of failure, it’s simply part of the journey.

Jeff Robbins is a business coach, mentor, and virtual business partner who works one-on-one with company owners and leaders to help them build vision and direction for their companies while building productivity, stability, and happiness for their employees and themselves. You can work with him too. Reach out to set up a free consultation session.



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Jeff Robbins

Cofounder at @Lullabot. Executive Coach at @jjeff. Rockstar at @Orbitband.