“If you begin by proving, you will never be done beginning”

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“If you begin by proving, you will never be done beginning” — John Henry Cardinal Newman

These words have led my decision making more than any others. Not being sure makes cowards of us all. It would be nice if we could be certain and sure and had perfect information to eliminate chance when acting. If it were this easy, we’d all be millionaires with 6-pack abs.

I have seen so many people standing in the wings afraid to step on the stage of life and act. They are waiting until they can be sure.

As entrepreneurs, too many of us are in purgatory, refusing to commit full energy because we haven’t yet proven that this idea, this product, this particular direction is THE one. As long as certainty isn’t there, there is reason NOT to act. And so we wait for the light, the revelation that will make the way clear. The key problem is that we are waiting; we are in a holding pattern that has us circling around afraid to land. Entrepreneurs must come down but not always with certainty where. With that holding us back, we don’t full engage, do not go all out, and thus don’t succeed.

In corporate life, similar problems arise. Holding patterns develop. We wait for the light, the way, the perfect job — while we are waiting we have an excuse for never going all in. We are saving ourselves until that ideal situation comes along. “I hate this job, but…” “But…but” As we but — along our life is not on hold. Our life is going ahead even if we haven’t allowed ourselves to be turned on fully.

“If you begin by proving, you will never be done beginning.” We will not act with all our energy if we must first prove beyond doubt. Even certainty changes over time. The choices we have are to live out life tentative, half-committing here and there OR diving into life with all we’ve got, committing ourselves as if we had proven and were 100% certain that we were on the right path. What this immersion into action requires is a leap of faith. Taking this plunge doesn’t mean we are locked into a single outcome. Our eyes are open and we will continually adjust our course — but we are committed to moving forward.

Mike Antonczyk is co-founder and Principal at H2A Partners based in Bozeman, Montana; a specialized strategy-to-action firm focused on helping clients build new and powerful approaches to the work that matters most to them.

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