Why You Should Stop Learning (and Start Doing)

In: entrepreneur| ideas

22 Nov 2010

In the course of meeting with aspiring entrepreneurs and people with big ideas, I have come to hear the same thought shared over and over again:

“If only I knew {something}.”

Within the world of web start-ups, this is often programming. “If only I knew how to actually code, I could launch my business.” But it applies to other things as well. I have met people who have an idea, but decide the best way to start is by learning how to write a proper business plan. Or people who want to be a professional blogger or author who read about writing instead of, y’know, actually writing.

Skills Help, But Only to a Point
I’m not saying that learning a certain skill won’t make something easier. If you want to build a website, it’s a big help if you can build it yourself. But too often people push aside good ideas for the pursuit of learning something they’re convinced is required for success, instead of finding a way to work with the tools already at their disposal.

The focus on “learning” before doing can become it’s own endless pursuit, never leading to the perfect moment where you feel you now know what you need in order to succeed. There will always be another blog to visit or book to read to “know enough.”

Does this sound familiar?
You read a book on productivity instead of being productive. You watch a show on organizing your closets without touching your messy closet. You spend time researching the best running shoe to buy before you ever step outside for a jog.

We’ve all done this. And it’s tempting, because learning about something often gives you the illusion of progress, making you feel you are closer to your goal, even though it can become just another roadblock.

You’re Smart Enough
It’s important to continue learning, and in the pursuit of any idea, you’re going to learn more and acquire more skills than you would have ever imagined. But stop looking at learning something new as a prerequisite that needs to be done before you work on the thing you really want to do. Start thinking about the strengths you already have and how they can be leveraged to achieve your goal.

Here’s a secret: you’re smart enough to do it now. So stop focusing on just learning how to do something, and try doing it instead.

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Mark Webster

About Mark Webster

One of the Co-Founders of SideTour, former TechStar (NYC Summer 2011), ex-NBA'er, and past TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon Winner.