After working with hundreds of business owners and countless business coaches, I’ve found a common thread in all of them that stops people from following through on their word or plans. Now most so called “experts” will tell you that its because of FEAR or Self Sabotage and that sort of thing. But its really easier than that. Fear and that sort of classic excuse is what people use to fall back on when they don’t really know the real reason people don’t follow through.
To be very clear, I don’t share these things so that you can have a new set of excuses. I share these things because once you know the ROOT cause for the behavior, you can get the proper prescription to help cure this problem. But understanding the root cause (or psychology behind the actions) is essential in fixing the problem. That said, here are the reasons I’ve found that are the most common.
- Lack of understanding – What I often find is that people don’t know how to do some of the simplest tasks in their business. Like getting their financials in order, putting together an email blast, writing a sales script, meeting with an employee, etc. This lack of understanding quite often stops or at a minimum delays them from taking action and ultimately they will just get distracted by other things.
- Don’t know where to start – This is one of the first questions clients usually ask me… “where do we start?”. The reason is because even simple tasks usually have multiple moving parts. And when you are making decisions in a business or even in a household for that matter, you have to consider other people and the impact of your decision on external forces. So not knowing where to start will often stop people from ever starting at all.
- Overwhelmed with details – So let’s say someone understands what to do and even knows where to start… Some people get that far, but get bogged down in the details of how much there is to do and wanting it to be perfect. Perfectionist are quite often only perfect at one thing… Being late to the party.
- Lack of Value and Expectations – Here’s a massive one. If someone doesn’t understand the value of doing something they just won’t do it or they will stop. The classic example is the karate kid. Young Danielson didn’t see any value in wax on, wax off. He expected to learn karate not how to wax a car. So he was very frustrated with the experience. Now because it was a movie, he put up with the training (also because he had his coach watching over him all day). But in real life, people just walk away from the task or never start it. The other part of this one is expectations. By taking on a task, you have to have expectations around it. What do you want the outcome to be? If you aren’t clear on the outcome it makes it hard to pursue the task.
- Priorities – A lot things happen in a business every day and knowing your priorities is very important. This spills over from item 4, but realize if you don’t know the value and expectations of the task you are about to take on, it makes it hard to prioritize in your day.
- Out of control with their time – This is one of the ROOT causes I see a lot. When I work with people I always look for ways to fine tune their schedule. Even if they don’t ask for that… Reason being is that this is often the first excuse… “I didn’t have enough time”. And for that person — in that moment, that’s a fact. So it has to be addressed.
- Stress – While this is just an excuse, stress is very real and often debilitating. And it is often compounded by items 1 through 6 on this list not being answered for the individual and that ultimately creates more stress. Stress is not only a distraction it can result in a depression and other paralyzing behavior that makes a person stop caring.
9 things you can apply right away to overcome this…
- Make sure you set clear goals and objectives for each task you take on. And if multiple people are involved, make sure they are CLEAR and can repeat it back to you.
- If assigning the task to a client, make sure they understand the task. To do this, don’t just ask them if they understand, I ask them to explain it back to me so that I am SURE they understand.
- Have a clear starting point and milestones. Getting started is the hardest part. Once you get someone started, its much easier to direct them. It also gets them involved and its hard to quit once you invest your time into something.
- Get them involved in the creative process. Thanks to Brendon Burchard for this quote, “People support what they create”. If you want someone enrolled in the process and to take ownership of it, get them to help create it. You can’t just assign tasks to people, they need to be involved in coming up with the tasks.
- Get clear on the value of the task at hand. Attach it to their goals and dreams and HOW this task plays a pivotal role in accomplishing those goals and dreams no matter how small a part it may be. The bigger the task, the more time you need to invest in understanding the value.
- Set expectations… Not just for the task, but what you expect will come from this short and long term.
- Be clear how important this task is. If you need to, make a list of other things going on this week and rank where this task lands on that list. Know how important it is.
- Get control of your time by making lists. Break down tasks on your list by categories. I have 3 categories. The first is money making activities (represented by a $ sign), the second is client relationship activities (represented by a smiley face) and the third is just “stuff” (I don’t have a sign for that one). Money making activities are first, followed by client relationship activities and then finally all other “stuff”. (My thanks to Mike Michalowicz – The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur for that one.)
- Talk about and deal with the stress. It’s real and you have to deal with it. Just addressing it can make a big difference.