How to find answers to tough questions?
That leading “life or death” question you are obsessed with.
How do I build on an idea? How do I make money? How do I create impact? How do I land on that book deal? How do I build the business from 0 to 1000 customers? How do I find the opportunity among the target market I am looking at? How do I build a team when I have no money to pay?
As artists, entrepreneurs, creators, makers we all have one leading question in life, at any point of time. One question that clouds our mind to a level where we can’t see anything else. Question that does not have a specific answer, at least in the immediate future. Question that sends you on a wild goose chase. Question that becomes an obsession to keep you worried and stressed all the time.
You know what you want, but have no idea how to get there. You know the destination but not the connecting routes.
Where to start?
Act on anything that you can possibly act on now, however remote it may seem to your goal.
Start writing. Start building the website you always wanted to. Research on the area that you have been curious for long. Talk to customers, talk to domain experts.
Exhaust all your options. Then find more and act on them.
The pillars of action
Let your curiosity guide your actions.
Have a sense of urgency of all the amazing ideas that are left for you to act upon.
Feel the excitement of acting on your ideas in your head.
Focus on getting deep in to what you are working on. Try to understand as much as you can. Let the work engulf you. And get out only when you find something worth while.
Save tough questions for lunch
Our mind is not capable of handing all the questions all the time. At the beginning of the day, start with tasks that are easy, defined and clear to act upon. Tasks that are well defined face very less mental resistance to complete.
Focus on doing, focus on getting into a deep meditative state through the act of doing. A place in mind where you focus only on your action.
Save the big and tough questions for your best state of mind — when you are in the zone, when you are in momentum, when you are in the middle of action and nothing can disturb you any more, when you are inquisitive, objective and open to challenges.
Choose your questions.
The questions you ask yourself determines whether you are in endless loop or on a path to find answers. Rather than figuring out what is the next big opportunity, ask where do people spend a lot of time or money today.
Spend more time thinking about the questions than trying to find an answer.
Instead of trying to answer the tough questions in your head, take a small portion that you can act upon.
Focus on process not end results
Finding an opportunity, building a team, writing a blog are all end results.
Look at the triggers and underlying process of these results. And then focus on how you can perform actions that directly ties to these triggers.
To find a business opportunity, do you know your customers? What do they love, what do they hate, what is their life is around? You look at how people buy and share and act. You observe. You ask questions related to their lives and life story. Now can you find a problem that is worth solving for your customers?
Or to build a team from scratch, what are some of the qualities you focus on while joining a team or a person? ability to make an impact? generating revenue? creating value? vision? leadership? Now how can you show these qualities in your work?
System of actions
Reaching a goal needs a system of actions, not just an action. You just do not reach out to people to join you [ which is the immediate action that comes to your mind when you want people to join your team ]. You also show what value you have created already, what progress you have made, the research you have done on the subject, the vision you have and your plan for execution. And also build the ability to…
…tell your story.
Do people see overcoming struggle, pain, fear, learning survival skills and fighting against all odds in your story? What is the human value in the story that you are telling every one?
Write and talk about problems that people face and how they can be solved. Create content about the stuff you are trying to build and what you are trying to achieve.
Where you can find your future team- in events? in hackathons? playing games? Where can you find your probable customers? Reach out to them with your story wherever they are. The human value makes people care about the story you tell them.
Which comes first — action or plan?
We often look at a plan of action as exactly that. A plan. An idea on how to go about something. We see it as a separate process from action itself. We then perform the action. We do not see the plan and action as a co-creating process.
As we act our plans get informed on what is better to do. We then make more informed decisions.
Some times the best way to set things on momentum is to start with the closest possible action. We then use the results to find better actions, to progress more towards the goal.
We choose tough problems because its our innate human quality to pursue challenging quests and accomplish them. Its in our genes to persevere, and find answers to questions that are bigger than us. The reason we are obsessed with these big questions in life means that we have the capability to find answers in them. Often we create more value not in these answers but in the pursuit of them.