First Impressions Count (but not that much)

I’m very comfortable sitting at home on my own with my laptop working on a project. I don’t have to deal with other people and everything is under my control. That’s how it’s been since August writing the code for PolyNome.

The same can apply to practicing drums in your garage. You have all the time in the world to work on whatever you want to work on. There’s no pressure and you can enjoy the process of getting as good as you dream of.

PolyNome is finally ready to release and I find myself having to get involved with promotion. I find that there’s more stress involved with this because it’s unfamiliar territory for me. I’m not a natural salesman and I’m all too aware that it’s the “sales” part of the equation that is going to make or break this as an app.

The thing that makes it stressful is the idea that first impressions count. There’s the underlying feeling that if I write to the magazine editor and don’t pitch my idea just right they’ll turn it down and I won’t get a second chance.

I remember the exact same feeling with auditions. When I started out I wasn’t keen on the idea of doing auditions because I never felt like I was as good as I could be. That in itself wouldn’t be enough to stop me applying – you can always try another time. However, in the back of my mind was this image of an agent at the audition with a big black book.  They’d see that I wasn’t good enough and put a big black cross by my name and I’d never even get into any future auditions.

That’s obviously a ridiculous notion, but it’s what stopped me from taking action for a long time. The idea that we only get one chance.

I’ve heard this referred to as analysis paralysis.  The idea that you want to get it right first time so spend all your time investigating the right way to go about something. You research and practice but don’t take action. You don’t want to make move until you’re 100% certain it’s going to work.

The problem with this is that nothing ever gets done. Maybe there’s only going to be one chance and you missed it because you didn’t think you were ready. Perhaps you were just as ready as everyone else, but you’re guaranteed not to succeed because you didn’t even put yourself in the running.

I think it’s in some people’s nature to not give a shit, or to have more confidence in their abilities than they really ought to. These people often get ahead and we can sit back and wonder how they did it. The truth is that if you don’t put yourself and your ideas out there then nobody ever knows that you exist. Being a “salesman” is part of every job, like it or not. You have to sell yourself, sell your ideas.

So, the only way to move forward is to take action. You either do that because you feel totally prepared and confident, because you have no real self-awareness, or because you’ve done what you can to prepare and you realise you’re never going to feel ready.

The important thing is to take the action when the opportunity is there. Whether you get the result you hoped for or not you’ll have some real life data to improve your models. That’s way more valuable than your “thought experiment” outcomes.

Let’s say you fail miserably and don’t get what you went for. That’s really valuable information and you’ll probably have a solid idea of what you need to do better next time. Not only that, but you’ll know that failing wasn’t the end of the world and you’ll be less afraid to take the plunge next time.

My aim is to take those uncomfortable feelings and attach them to the knowledge that, no matter what the outcome, taking action is the best way to move forward. You can become an adrenaline junky for stepping outside your comfort zone and getting things done.

Seize the day!