“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
There’s plenty of good advice out there about setting a goal before you take action. At Spring Insight, for example, we wouldn’t dream of launching a marketing campaign without a clear idea of the target audience(s) and the results our client expects. Goal setting is crucial and part of a concrete, familiar process.
A much bigger challenge is to steer a campaign or move a company forward when all you can see is the patch of road directly in front of you. It’s tough to take a next step when you’re not sure where it will lead. In many ways, this business dilemma reflects our national landscape: unprecedented initiatives launched with goals in mind, but anxiety among many Americans over where we’ll end up.
Uncertainty can paralyze a business if it shuts down forward motion. Creativity and progress grind to a halt when doubt freezes your ability to start the trip without a clear pathway to the destination. The thing is, fearful paralysis is guaranteed to derail your project or business. There are practical strategies to break out and get moving:
1. “Make the best use of what is in your power and take the rest as it happens.”
So says Epictetus, a Stoic philosopher familiar with moving forward in uncertainty. You are not clueless about your situation. You’ve gathered the best information you could find to launch your project. You know enough to get started…so get started. Then see what things look like from your new vantage point and calculate your next best move. Repeat until you reach your destination.
2. Open your mind to all input as you take your next steps.
What if you can’t see far into the distance because the path will only become obvious en route to your goal? Perhaps you need to lay a foundation before you can develop the best plan. It might involve actions that you can’t dream up until you gather the results of your first steps. You might even need to tweak your original goal on feedback you gather as you move forward. Keep your eyes, ears, and mind open and adjust accordingly.
3. Keep heading in the right direction–forward.
Once you’ve broken the spell of uncertainty, your actions and feedback will steer you more and more clearly in the right direction. You’ll get confirmation that your actions are moving you toward your goal. The fog will lift and you’ll get a broader view of the best way to proceed.
But none of this is possible until you take that first step. Determine the right direction as best you can and just start walking. There’s no other way to put your uncertainty in check and move forward.