The Power of Starting: Why STUPID Is The New Smart

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How to overcome fear, take action and start something STUPID

What do some of the world’s most successful people like Seth Godin, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and even William Shakespeare and Walt Disney’s, have in common?

They started things that someone once called (or thought of as) stupid. But, when looking closely, stupid actually translates into unconventional, innovative and things that are outside-the-box.

I recently discussed the topic with Richie Norton, author of the best-seller The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen, and Live without Regret.

During our conversation, Richie emphasized the fact that there are two types of stupid: healthy and unhealthy. “When starting something, you want to go after the healthy stupid,” he said.

But how can you decide whether what you’d like to do is healthy or unhealthy stupid?

To help you with that, Richie has created the so-called “Money vs. Meaning Matrix”.

RichieNorton.com

Ideally, you want to start with something that is high-money-making and high-meaning-making. Your “stupid thing” should be meaningful, give you gratification and be something you enjoy doing. At the same time, it should also be earning you money, so that you can make it sustainable.

How to Get Started Even If You Have No Time, Money Nor Education

When thinking of starting something (stupid), people often discard their idea(s) for the fact that they don’t either have the money, time or the education to pursue it/them.

Time is the only asset we all have in common. If you really think about it, you do have the time to work on and create something stupid. You may have only two or just a few hours you can dedicate to the project each week, but you do.

It’s all about prioritising.

Time is the most valuable asset we have.

As for the “no money, no education” aspect, Richie’s advice here was straightforward: “start with what you have”. You don’t need to go in debt to start something (healthy) stupid, you can start with what you already have.

And while it’s true that for certain things education is indeed required (you aren’t allowed to practice medicine if you haven’t attend and graduated from med school — sorry!), you can take the first steps — toward something stupid — from the place you’re at RIGHT NOW.

You may be thinking that you don’t have enough experience. If you think about it, experience is something very important, especially on the job market. Think of how many times you have seen “5 years of experience” as a requirement for a position.

A former mentor once told Richie to remember that some say they have 20 years of experience, but they actually have one year of experience repeated 20 times.

This means that you can start and learn by doing.

From Idea to Project: How to NEVER Be a Quitter

When starting something, some people quit. Had they continued, they could have created something amazing. However, for a reason or another, what was once seen as a great idea is now being discarded.

Let’s face it, nobody likes to be a quitter — right?

Well, Richie has some advice that will help you stop being a quitter once and for all.

The key to NEVER be a quitter is in the way you think.

You may come up with an idea. You spend some time thinking about it, you brainstorm and try to put together a plan that will help you take the necessary steps to turn that idea into reality.

Here’s where the problem lies. Ideas aren’t something tangible.

If you want to stop being a quitter, you shouldn’t think about ideas but about projects.

I also discussed this aspect with Project Success author and networking expert Mark Sieverkropp.

When planning to start something stupid, you want to think about it as a project. “A project is something more concrete than an idea,” explained Richie Norton - “for the fact that it has a beginning and an end date.”

Coming up with a beginning and end date for your project creates accountability. You immediately know when you’re going to start and when you’re going to finish.

If once you have reached the end date your project is working and appears to be something that can be high-meaning-making and high-money-making, you can keep going with it. In case your project doesn’t seems to be working, you can simply pivot and move on to the next project.

See how this changes everything? You wouldn’t be quitting an idea, you would simply be pivoting and start working on a new project.

In case you still consider pivoting from a project to another as a sort of failure, remember that all successful people, at some point or another, experienced failure.

All successful people, at some point or another, experienced failure.

(Think Like a Surfer) How to Overcome Fear

Unsplash — Daniel Ruswick

Fear is something that holds many people back but, as Richie explained, thinking like a surfer can really help you overcome fear.

If you think about it, surfers start by riding small waves. At the beginning a surfer may be afraid of the idea of riding a huge wave — and rightfully so!

However, between the first 1-foot wave to a gigantic 15-foot wave, there are 2, 3, 4, 5 (etc.)-foot long waves.

The lesson here is to try and break fear into “mini-fears”. Focus on overcoming the “mini-fears” — your 5-foot wave — first. This way, once you will be facing your 20-foot wave, you’re going to see it as a “mini-fear” that will see you going from riding a 19-foot long wave to a 20-foot long.

Another sports metaphor that can help you understand how you can overcome fear and start something stupid, by breaking fear down into “mini-fears”, is diving.

Divers start jumping from platforms or springboards that are only a few feet above water. As they overcome “mini-fears”, they keep moving up and start jumping from platforms that are several feet above water.

You can listen to the full interview with Richie Norton by clicking the player below:

And remember — as Steve Jobs said: “Stay hungry, stay foolish”.

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