Below is an excerpt from our book Startups Made Simple: How to Start, Grow and Systemize Your Dream Business. Learn more about the book here.
“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” – Carl Jung
The ability to Execute and get things done is probably one of the most valuable abilities a human can have. In business, it’s absolutely essential, and if you can get things done, you will be handsomely rewarded, not only in business, but in life as well.
Hopefully you are starting to see how these superpowers work together. If you have a clear Vision and can Execute on that Vision, then you are an incredibly effective person. Add in Energy and Leadership (the next chapter) and the ability to get other people to execute, then you’re basically unstoppable.
“I shall either find a way or make one.” – Hannibal
My favorite word for execution and the ability to get things done is Agency. Agency is a powerful word, but you’ve probably not heard it used in this manner. It’s the skill that every venture capitalist is looking for and every employer as well. If you have Agency, then you can be trusted to get done almost anything that is capable of being done. Most important, Agency is taking 100% responsibility for your life and its outcomes.
If you have Agency, you can be given responsibility for something and the person who gave you that simply knows it will get done and done well. Pretty much all of the other execution habits are related to or tactics related to Agency. If you don’t like fancy words like that, then a related concept is “Git’er done” made famous by comedian Larry the Cable Guy. It is the same concept: just get the job done.
Agency means I can ask someone to do something, and it will get done within reason. If somebody has Agency, you don’t have to follow-up with them, you don’t have to beg them for task or project updates (they’ll proactively update you before you need it). Agency is taking ownership of the task and responsibility for getting it done right. Agency is doing even mundane tasks well.
Agency is what we want from presidents, generals, project managers, employees, assistants, partners, babysitters—almost anyone. If you want to get ahead in business, be respected by pretty much everyone, or improve your career, then become someone known for Agency. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Agency means you take responsibility for your decisions and any consequences that result.
A big clarification: Agency does not mean hard work, and knowing the difference is critical. I always respect hard workers, but you have to know and reward the difference. My local landscaper works hard, the people at your local restaurant work hard, and people at your office may work hard. But an absolute critical distinction is that hard work, while admirable, is not necessarily getting the right things done that need to get done.
You can work insanely hard, but if you’re not working on the right things, then hard work can actually be counterproductive. After you have hired and managed enough employees, you’ll understand this critical difference. Some people can manage to be extremely busy all day yet accomplish half of what a person with Agency will accomplish in less time.
How to Build Agency
Here’s the best part: Agency is a capability that can be called from within. I believe every person has Agency in them, they just need to light the fire.
Here’s an example:
Imagine you are broke but you owe me $1,000. If I casually said I need that $1,000 in 6 hours, you’d probably dismiss this as not possible and tell me to pound sand or “I’ll get it when I can.”
However, if you are broke but need $1,000 in 6 hours for a lifesaving medication for your loved one or they will die, it will get done.
It may require extraordinary energy, running all over town, calling, pawning, selling, begging, or even something illegal, but the point is that most people can call up the resources within to get this done. This is Agency, and if you place enough importance on a task, and as long as it’s capable of being done, you’ll get it done. Find it within yourself.
Another thing I’ve noticed with people that have Agency is that they have a very simple outlook on getting things done along the lines of Yoda’s famous “do or do not, there is no try” statement. In many ways, it’s almost a martial mindset; sometimes simple thinking is powerful thinking.
How do you lose weight? You eat less and exercise more. How do you get motivated? You wake up and start working on the most important task and motivation will come. How do you have that hard conversation? You pick up the phone and call the person or meet them.
There’s something that needs to get done, and they do it. There’s not a lot of over-complication or over-thinking in people with Agency, which is the curse of a lot of intelligent people and founders I’ve known.
This was an excerpt from our book Startups Made Simple: How to Start, Grow and Systemize Your Dream Business. Learn more about the book here or see our previous excerpts here.
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