Realize Your Dream: Overcoming the Top 5 Excuses
Little boy drawing a huge rocket on the wall.

Realize Your Dream: Overcoming the Top 5 Excuses

If you really think about it…we really don’t often really think about it.

That is to really think through the excuses that pop into our heads, specifically self-limiting thoughts and overcoming the brain’s default setting to avoid change.

For those of any age who have a need or desire to pursue something new, such as becoming entrepreneur or innovator, the following excuses are most common. Each one is reasonable, but if you really think about it, each one can be overcome.

First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.

-Napoleon Hill

#1 I don’t have a great idea.

The only thing limiting your aspiration is your imagination.” 

-Steven Richards

Typical thought: “I need a big idea, but don’t even know where to start. I certainly can’t magically concoct something like Facebook, the iPhone or a clothing store. I’m screwed before I begin!” -You

Dreaming up something totally new is really, really hard. Reaching for something that you’re already aware of is much, much easier and much more likely to be realized as long as you connect to it, become open to discovering it and raise your awareness.

You can break down virtually any “breakthrough” idea and discover that the person who did it had their light bulb go off from personal and/or professional experience and awareness.

They saw a problem, a need and an improvement or viewed it from a different angle. Virtually every single great breakthrough business and idea came via an effort to solve a problem and fulfill a need (ProBoomers). Virtually every breakthrough Steve Jobs and Apple gave us came as a solution in the form of new iteration (iPhone), an improvement (iPod vs. MP3 players) or from a better angle (graphic interface and the mouse vs. DOS).

Anyone can spot problems that require solutions. These solutions are ideas you can turn into something. Walk around your business, look at your industry or your personal/family and friend’s life situation and see needs and shortcomings. How would you solve that? How would your talent, experience and skill sets make it happen? Look at where life, business and personal needs are heading. Wayne Gretzky famously said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going.”

The Wall Street Journal article How Entrepreneurs Come Up with Great Ideas addressed this by asking highly successful people how to do it:

  • Look at what’s bugging you

  • You’re never too old

  • Be present in life

  • Ideas are abundant; Drive isn’t

  • Let your subconscious do the work

  • Attack practical problems

  • Head into the weird places

  • Search for a better way

  • Think big

  • Taking it to market

  • Listen to people who know

  • Get inspired by history

  • Be prepared to shift gears

  • You can’t rush the brain

Bottom-Line: Incredible possibilities are always right in front of you. You’re your mind to discovering, become aware, seek, discover, get excited and then drive it forward.

The question you should be asking isn’t, “What do I want?” or “What are my goals?” but “What would excite me?”

-Tim Ferris

#2 I don’t have the right skills, experience or knowledge.

You just have to get started. If I had to understand everything about connecting people before I began, I never would have started Facebook. –Mark Zuckerberg

I don’t know how to (fill in the blank) , so doing this is just not possible.” -You

Believing you aren’t capable of making an idea a reality is one of the most self-limiting thoughts there is. In fact this thought should be treated as a notion more than a realization because when you think it through and listen to those who have succeeded, you will recognize you can either gain the knowledge, realize you have more knowledge, skill and experience that applies to your idea than you thought and that you can tap into others for the gaps that you have.

Abbey Fleck had an idea for the best way to cook bacon in a microwave. She sketched it out with some help, figured out a way to get it manufactured, promoted and distributed. She’s a millionaire. Oh…and she started this when she was eight years old. She certainly had none of the skills, experience or knowledge needed when she started.

With an idea comes intent, with movement comes passion and with determination comes solutions. In terms of learning, you have everything from experts to connect with, education to pursue or Google to search with (You can even learn how to build an atomic bomb through Google!).

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” — Pablo Picasso

In my own experience as a content creator, live event and video producer, I have often undertaken ambitious creative approaches that I or anyone else had never done. But I developed a great concept; pulled in others who, with their support, enthusiasm and expertise, teamed with me to deliver amazing success.

You don’t have to know it all or do it all. In fact, you probably shouldn’t. Some innovators have killed their enterprise when they tried to be the CEO or handle aspects outside of their abilities and focus.

A man’s got to know his limitations.”

Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry

Know what you are really good at doing, realize what you should be responsible for and identify your gaps. Then find the resources and people to support you by filling in those gaps and/or develop your own knowledge and skills to fill them.

An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

Benjamin Franklin 

#3 I don’t have time.

If you feel like you don’t have time, you don’t have priorities. Everyone has the same amount of time.” 

-Tim Ferriss

Rich or poor, male or female, no matter what race, creed or nationality, we all have the same number of hours in a day. It’s what we do with those hours, minutes and seconds. Stop and examine what you do with your time. Really break it down and you will discover an immense amount of wasted time both in actual minutes and hours as well as focus and energy.

There are a multitude of books, YouTube videos and methods to make your time more efficient and different ways to look how you operate. Here are just a few:

Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Work Week more than anything deconstructs efforts into what is really important and what is not, thereby saving time while achieving even greater results. Ferriss offers additional insights and methods in his other books and numerous talks.

John Assaraf teaches you about how it all starts with habits (disengaging from old ones and launching better ones).

Brian Tracey, Brendon Burchard and David Allen’s Getting Things Done are just a few of resources out there in bookstores and on YouTube. Seek and find the method that works best for you.

As Tim Ferriss said, if it is truly a priority, if this is something you truly need or desire, you will find the time. That is if you get started. That truly is the hard part. To get yourself launched, listen to Mel Robbins’ ridiculously simple and incredibly successful method: The Five Second Rule.

#4 I’m too late.

You can recognize a pioneer by the arrows in his back.”

Beverly Rubik

Yeah, Steve Jobs beat you to the graphical interface and mouse, but Xerox and Douglas Engelbart actually beat him to those innovations. Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t first in social media. Henry Ford didn’t invent the assembly line nor did Bill Gates develop DOS. The list goes on and on and on and on.

Innovation is never one-and-done; some of the most successful companies, products and services are based on refining earlier ideas and innovations. Evolving to meet new needs and embrace new technologies and focusing on users and audiences, making their product or service more affordable, functional or useable.

Innovations that have seemingly failed can turn into a success when someone applies them in a meaningful and desired way.

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, which he called the Ediphone because he believed the only use would be for dictation. It was Eldridge Reeves Johnson who made it desirable as the phonograph by recording Caruso and other musicians bringing music to the home. The Lumiére Brothers invented motion pictures. It became a dying business because “motion photographs” as it was called was pretty much just that, a photograph that had movement in it. It was 20 years later before D.W. Griffith created the first film we would recognize as a movie. By doing so a major art form and industry was truly born (Read Whiplash – How to Survive Our Faster Future by Joi Ito & Jeff Howe) .

Odds are you’re not too late. Those before you have done a lot of the work. Now you can reapply and refocus their efforts and pioneering by making it better, faster, stronger, newer, more relevant, cheaper with whatever your vision is.

#5 I can’t take the risk.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Mark Twain

Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

Helen Keller

The mantra in this Entrepreneurial Age is: Any business risk you take today is a risk you can and somehow will recover from. In time you can overcome almost any setback, stumble, or failure, and emerge stronger and smarter and better equipped to succeed the next time. Another modern mantra is to “fail fast and fail often”. No longer are people blackballed for failure, they’re venerated (as long as you learn, adapt, improve and pivot).

If you never try, you will regret it. Do you really want to be on your death bed (when so many fundamental and critical life realizations seem to occur) and look back on your life and think, “I wish I had at least tried! Oh, what might have been.” That’s one risk you should never take.

First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.

Napoleon Hill

So now that you think about it, what are you going to think about? You may have other excuses, but if you thinking about being an entrepreneur or an innovator and transforming you life, the overwhelming odds are any excuse is just that, an excuse.

The age factor means nothing to me. I’m old enough to know my limitations and I’m young enough to exceed them.

Marv Levy