Decide. Then do. Here’s how.


Focus + action = success.

I love when lessons from the personal side of life can be so profitably applied to the business side.

As President of the Board at Peoples Church Unitarian Universalist, I’m kept in the loop of all sorts of discussions. Many of those discussions have revolved around what to do with the stained glass windows from our old church (which did not come through the Flood of 2008 very well).

While discussing contractor options for a major repair project that would impact installation of the windows, the question arose about who would handle the electrical work. Someone mentioned that the “windows team” would like to use the electrical contractor they had found, and our minister leapt in and said, “That issue was tossed around for weeks. I’m glad it’s decided.”


When I thought about it, I realized this brief exchange illustrated several lessons that entrepreneurs will do well to keep in mind as they grow successful businesses.

Taking care of an activity does not necessarily mean doing it personally.

While Scott was in charge of talking to contractors about the repair, Jo led the team that’s dealing with the windows. Since Jo’s team had done the research about the electrical contractor, Scott was comfortable stepping back and going with their decision. He could consider that issue to be handled, even though he didn’t arrange it through the contractors he met with.

Enough is enough.

While leaping into action with too little information can result in wasted time, money, and opportunities, getting stuck in endless gathering of data will totally keep you stuck.

There will always be more research you can do on any given aspect of business development. The challenge is to find that sweet spot between “too little” and “too much.”

Meeting that challenge is easier when you apply lesson #3.

Make sure you know what you’re trying to accomplish.

At Peoples Church, this takes the form of what we call “end statements”. They answer the questions, “What difference do we commit to make? For whom? With what priority?”


Focus + clarity + action = success.


In your business, being able to answer these questions will go a long way to keep you focused on the activities that actually move you toward the outcomes you want to create. As an added bonus, clear answers will free you up to decide – and take appropriate action – more quickly and confidently.

Separate what you’re doing from how you’ll do it.

The beauty of end statements (or goals, to use a more business-sounding word) is that they enable you to clearly keep in mind where you want to end up, without getting bogged down thinking about the “cursed hows”.

Too often, a perfectly valid and useful goal is ignored because you can’t immediately see how you’ll accomplish it. This is not useful for creating a thriving business.

If you first get clear on the what – and commit to making it happen – that commitment will limber up your creativity so you’re able to come up with the hows that will enable you to get there.

Take time to think as well as act.

It’s incredibly easy to get on a hamster wheel of busy-ness that is so demanding you rarely, if ever, stop to ask if what you’re doing is what it makes sense to be doing.

As management legend Peter Drucker put it, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” As a business owner, you get to wear both management and leadership hats – and you get to don the leadership hat first.

The challenge here is taking the time to step back from activity long enough to put your leading/thinking cap on – to create time and space for this crucial reflective, strategic thinking.

For those of you in Iowa’s Creative Corridor, I have a way to meet that challenge: Join us on June 29th at Escape and Accelerate, a productivity day disguised as an in-town retreat at Prairiewoods. It’s a full day for you to focus, not on client work, but on development of your business. You can reserve your seat here.


What’s been your experience with creating and applying effective approaches to taking smart action? Please share your best tips in the Comments section below, so the rest of us can benefit.

Or is clear, confident decision making still more of a fantasy than a reality? If that’s the case, I can help.

My specialty is showing entrepreneurs how to get crystal clear on what they want to accomplish and why, creating action plans to get there, and holding them accountable for implementing those plans.

While what I do is not for everyone, the results are great when the fit is great.

Would you and I fit? The only way to tell is to get acquainted in a no-charge, no-risk phone call. After just 40 minutes, we’ll both feel confident about saying one of two things: “We’re not a fit; best of luck to both of us” or “We’re a fabulous fit; when do we start?”

If your gut is telling you that would be time well spent, grab your spot now.

(Thanks to Paul Downey for posting his compass image in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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