Here’s why you struggle to make big moves

I think most of us here probably understand this simple idea:

  • The main difference between the people who achieve extraordinary things, and the rest of us, is the willingness to take massive action.

Like everything, this applies to both the personal and professional. The main thing that stops people achieving something – whether its getting 6 pack abs, or 10xing their business – is not lack of knowhow or smarts; it’s just that they never really do anything.

Or perhaps more accurately: they don’t take action which is commensurate with the size of their goals.

Big goal? Big action.
Little goal? Little action.

Strategy of course is a precursor to action, but even if you’ve got a perfect one, that doesn’t mean you’ll actually do anything with it. In fact I wouldn’t really say that the presence of strategy is the main factor in determining whether you’ll make a move.

The main factor is psychology.

Yes, sadly it appears that some people just have a knack for “doing things”, and others don’t. Read the biographies of very successful people, and the pattern becomes abundantly clear that even when they were very young, they just “did stuff”. When I listened to the excellent autobiography of Matthew McConaughey, I was dismayed to realise that he’d done more cool things by the time he was 22 than I have in my whole life so far – and that was before he was a movie star! So little wonder he eventually “made it”.

Backing this up, Tony Robbins (who really knows his stuff despite what some may think) says that business success is “20% strategy, 80% psychology”, which I think sounds about right. And the ability to innovate, make big moves, and try stuff in the face of all barriers is the main output of that psychology.

So, with all of that being said, what do we do about it if we don’t have this knack (as most of us presumably don’t)? How can we evolve to that state?

The answer is that we have to create the thing which these natural risk-takers already have:


Momentum is the underlying ingredient behind this powerful psychological trait. The more you do, the more you will do, until you just get in the habit of firing off bold plays in every direction.

I heard a really cool anecdote about this from the founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely, who became the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire. She said that when she was growing up, her father would always ask her “what did you fail at today?”, and he’d celebrate all such failures, and be unhappy if she’d failed at nothing. Over time this generated a tremendous bias towards action, as she actively sought out opportunities to fail – not to mention building up an immunity to setback and disappointment.

Again, little wonder what happened there either.

So you just need to build this same kind of momentum, slowly but surely, by doing little things that build this muscle.

Of course you could try this in any walk of life, but if we were to apply it specifically to strategy, I would advise this technique:


Mini-moves are small “test” executions of your strategy (when you have it), that not only check its effectiveness, but also build momentum towards the bigger executional tasks to come. For example recently I’ve had a few B2B clients who have to pitch themselves in their sales process – and so this has created the perfect mini-move environment. They could simply try out a bit of the strategy-guided patter in the meeting, and see how the client responded.

This may be humble, but it gets the ball rolling, and a few more mini-moves later the ball’s rolling by itself and bigger plays become a breeze.

This is quite a new realisation to me, so I’m thinking of making my own mini-move by formally building this into my process, to get my more action-shy clients on the right path.

At the end of the day we are probably always building or eroding momentum for certain traits in our lives. Brushing our teeth, watching Netflix, picking our nose, whatever. Most of this is unconscious. But if we can take that power and harness it consciously?

Well, imagine where we could be.

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