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Escaping the ‘Pentagon of Procrastination’

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Escaping the ‘Pentagon of Procrastination’

From ‘Square of despair’ to ‘Pentagon of procrastination’.

I was at Open Opportunity Brisbane recently and Paul Shetler was discussing his ‘Square of despair’, and it got me thinking.

Paul’s ‘Square of despair’ is about digital enterprises seeking to scale and being locked in by:

  • Inappropriate IT.
  • Inappropriate funding.
  • Inappropriate governance.
  • Inappropriate procurement.

Unable to take the step required to break out and achieve the results desired.

Well, that’s my take on it, and you can go to Paul Shetler Brownfields Digital Transformation for more details.

Although you wouldn’t always know it by the ‘innovation discussion’ being led by government, not all of us are in the startup world. Many of us still have traditional service based small businesses, ones with services led by people, not digital solutions. And more … we’re proud of that!

In the world of the ‘non-startup’ small business, overcoming obstacles is more a matter of creating people based solutions rather than resource based solutions.

Procrastination is a thief.

We have to come face to face with people, engage and interact with others and that’s where procrastination can really kick in. It steals from us our potential.

Here are five levels of procrastination or as I’ve come to call it, the ‘Pentagon of procrastination’:

1. I want to do this (but I haven’t really signed up for the effort required).

At this stage, the idea is really just a dream. Often people are told to dream the biggest dream you possibly can and a hundred other clichéd quotes. Sure, these quotes can be useful, but if you’ve not truly connected to your dream, you don’t see it as being you, then you’ve not signed on yet.

Signing on for whatever it takes is the first step.

2. I’d love to do this but don’t know where to start (so I’ll leave it there).

Great to see you’ve signed on. Now it’s time to escape dreamland. Creating a plan is really the first actionable step of the process. There’s a few different ways to do this.

Working back from the goal to today. What would be the final step to achieving our goal? And what would we need to do just prior to that? Etc., back to today. It’s how the space program of getting to the moon and back was developed. After Kennedy’s famous speech.

3. I don’t believe I actually can do this (but it’s great to dream).

OK, we’ve let the dream go, but we’re also discounting our abilities. Like Henry Ford informed us so bluntly, “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right”. So it’s up to you. Do, or do not … but stop kidding yourself.

Use your imagination and start thinking of, “How could I do it and what do I need?” Consider what skills or knowledge, what resources and then think about how you’ll acquire them. Then get onto your project or give up and stop tormenting yourself. The choice is yours.

4. I’m not sure I can do this (I’ll try when I get my ducks in a row).

The thing is, in nature, ducks don’t hang around in a row. They form a huddle. Nature doesn’t often run straight lines; it takes a path of least resistance.

When we start anything new it’s unlikely we’re going to be great at it, so just get on and start practising. Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn once said, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late”, and that’s one person’s view.

5. I’m scared that I might not get it right (so I’ll practice it, till I perfect it).

Even as I write this, I realise, here’s a challenge for me. I often say, “I like to practice in a safe environment”. Just sometimes I stay in that environment longer than I should. And it’s here the quote of Mandela resonates, “There’s no passion in playing small”.

Escaping the pentagon.

Structure and discipline are what’s needed here, after all with greater discipline we’d not be in this predicament.

So, I’ll turn my business life over to the power of the business plan.

Here are three simple rules:

  1. Admit we’ve become powerless over procrastination—that our business lives have become unmanageable.
  2. Believe that a ‘power’ greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Make a decision to turn our will and our time over to the care of our business plan as we seek the path for our successful future.

Next time, we’ll discuss a 5-step practical plan to create your best year yet.

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