As a professional marketer, I’m often hired to develop strategies for my clients. Given my profession, what I’m about to say may sound a bit jarring.
Strategizing may actually be stopping you.
I know, it sounds intense, but I’m going to share a story from my own business to illustrate what I mean when I say that strategizing may be doing more harm than good.
The course that never was…
About a year ago, I decided to develop a LinkedIn course to teach consultants, coaches, and individuals in the professional services space how to successfully use the platform to become industry experts and thought leaders.
I sat down and started typing out the course.
I outlined my modules and lessons, then started writing in painstaking detail every moment of every video. No kidding, not only did I type out my talking points, I detailed which words would flash on the screen and when, and marked cues for when the camera would switch from me to the computer. I would then ponder if that was really the best sequence.
I would pause and start researching camera crews, strategies for production, and how to create the most engaging backgrounds.
I would step away from that and sit on a webinar about successfully launching an online course. I would freak out because I wasn’t doing some of the stuff that they said I should be doing, so then I went back and changed things around.
Every change caused a domino effect that required changes to the next portion of the course.
On and on I went, in this cycle of trying to figure out the best “strategy” for launching my online course; and while I was doing a lot, guess what I wasn’t doing?
Launching an online course!!!
This went on for a year, and here we are in March of 2017 and LinkedIn has now changed its UI, is owned by Microsoft, and a good portion of my 20+ pages of meticulous notes have been rendered useless. I spent so much time strategizing that the content became obsolete.
I soon realized the best strategy for launching an online course is to just launch an online course.
So, I signed up for an online course platform and started loading content into the program, figuring I’d adjust it as I went along on the live version. In under a week, my actions yielded way more than my strategizing ever did.
Why so many people get “strategy” wrong
Now, I realize you’re probably reading and thinking, “But wait, there has to be some preparation before I jump right in, right?” I wholeheartedly agree. There is no way I can launch my course without all the necessary prep work.
However, I do want to take a step back and address a fundamental misconception regarding what strategy is and what strategy is not.
I find many people have the following belief about strategy:
“There is one best way to do something and it’s very complex and you must have a ton of expertise to implement it. I don’t have that expertise so I will spend a ton of time researching and learning, then I’ll create the strategy and when I’ve become an expert, then and only then will I execute.”
Sometimes, whether we realize it or not, we have this assumption:
That there is one right strategy, that it is currently eluding us, and that if we could ONLY gain access and understanding around that strategy, THEN we’d produce results.
This is where we race right through the space of proper preparation and into the land of paralysis by analysis.
In reality, a strategy is just a course of action to reach a goal.
Take the example of going to San Diego, California from Washington, D.C.
There are many different courses you can take to get to San Diego. Some are longer than others, and some are shorter. You could take a train, you could take a plane, you could take a car, or you could do some combination of all three.
You could map out infinite options and then you could spend infinite time debating exactly which one will get you to San Diego the fastest, and the whole time what you are not doing is actually getting to San Diego.
At the end of the day, it’s more important to just choose a plan and know that inevitably, you’ll probably have to do some course correcting along the way. Either way, you’re not stressing about whether you’ll actually make it to San Diego, you’re just taking action go get there and using checkpoints, i.e. measurable results, to assess whether or not you are on course.
Assessing the best strategy
Now, there are undoubtedly circumstances where one strategy will be far superior to others. Oftentimes, we engage experts to help us determine this.
Keep in mind, though, experts become experts by way of experience. They didn’t enter a field inherently knowing all the right answers.
They tried, they failed, and they tried again. Through this process of trial and error, they came to know which strategies are better than others.
If you are in a position to engage an expert to help guide your actions, by all means, do so. But if you aren’t, don’t get stopped because you are not an expert. Remember expertise is gained through experience, and experience is the result of taking intentional actions towards a defined goal.
Sometimes you’ll get lucky and other times you’ll learn, but every time you’ll gain experience inform your next move.
This is how the blend of strategy and action produces results.
Don’t be stopped by strategizing
Where are you getting stopped in your business? Really take a look and see…
Are you really strategizing, or are you subconsciously stopping yourself from performing because you are afraid to fail?
Sooner or later, you’ll have to take action. You may not have all the answers up front, but action provides access to answers, so get out of your head and get on the court.