What prevents us from starting?
Our everyday life can be broken down in two sets of activities. These two sets are preparing and executing. Just for the sake of an example, let us assume that I am a painter. In this case, the first part, preparing, consists of all the hard work, practice, experiments that I do. Then comes the second part, where I come out of preparation mode and I start doing the real stuff; i.e. I participate in painting competitions, exhibitions, I start exploring and approaching suitable audience, critics and clients to whom I can show my work and ask for feedback, work and improvements.
We had a look at a painter just for the sake of an example, the same rule applies everywhere. If you are a mobile application developer, the first part is about learning languages and platforms, working on them and improving yourself. The second part is, actually making an application and sharing it with the world. As you share your work, people will start giving their feedback; some might like what you do and might offer you an assignment or a work role.
When should one move from the preparing mode to the execution mode? What gives you authority/confidence/approval to switch from one to the other?
I am trained to perform Indian Classical Music. Typically, in old days, you were not allowed to perform in public while you were a student; unless you reached a certain level of maturity in you art. I totally agree with this but, sadly, many Gurus did not allow their pupils to perform even after they learnt for more than ten to fifteen years.
The fear was, the possibility that the praises will spoil the pupil and will be detrimental to his further studies. Once Guru gave the permission, the pupil was free to perform wherever he wanted.
In this particular case, an approval was required, from the teacher.
For a coder or for a freelancer, who is there to approve? No one, except you, and that’s the point.
Times have changed and we no longer need to ask for a permission from any authority. We just need to start. The improvement will keep on happening.
This kind of approach calls for more maturity and dedication. It calls for a great deal of courage, to listen to criticism, accept it and improve further. If you are doing something for financial gains, people are the ones who will determine your failure or your success. It is better to start reaching more people and understand what they have to say about you and your work.
For instance, I have couple of friends who are gifted writers and write short stories.
“Why don’t you publish your work somewhere?” I often ask them.
“No, it should be perfect before it goes out.” This is the most common reply that I get.
I personally feel that you should be fast at shipping your work out. The focus should be a ‘shippable’ product than a ‘perfect’ product. Perfect does not exist, perfect is not defined and this quest for perfection before shipping the product keeps us away from perfection. Shipping early allows you to create an audience, a tribe to which you will be catering in the future; it also allows you to understand better the tribe.
Preparing is well required and very crucial to your success as well. Preparing, on the other hand is fatal if it prevents you from actually executing your work. As I have observed around, many times, preparation is used to postpone the actual execution.
Another example. Facebook, for instance, was launched only for Harvard students initially. This execution taught them many valuable things about the further improvements which enabled the product to attain the state which it is today.
Mark Zuckerberg could have easily said – we need to prepare more, we need more sophisticated algorithms and much bigger servers.
He chose the other way. He launched the product he already had, allowed people to comment on it, give their feedback on it and got a direction to improve from all the data.
The point that I want to highlight is, preparing is important, but it becomes counter to your growth when you use it as an excuse to not doing the real stuff.
Start shipping, start improving!