By Rana Gujral, co-founder of Tize.
I wound up for a punch and missed. This time, I punched and made contact, but my delivery was weak. I was losing. No, I wasn't in a bar brawl or fist fight -- I was at the gym with my coach, practicing Muay Thai. Normally, I practice Muay Thai three times per week and cycle with my team on the weekends. Sticking to a strict exercise regime helps me stay focused and motivated as an entrepreneur. But recently, something had been off. Before, exercise would energize me. Now, I felt depleted and my mind was going a million miles an hour.
After yet another lackluster practice session, my coach, Jaime, pulled me aside. I expected him to offer a new training strategy or even recommend more intense workouts to get my mind back in the game. Instead, Jaime said, "You, my friend, are suffering from paralysis by analysis."
How "Paralysis by Analysis" Blindsides Entrepreneurs
Recently, I had been working hard but accomplishing little. Something new and different excited me every week, distracting me from the other tasks at hand. Constantly in a state of distraction jumping from one idea to another, I couldn't focus long enough on a single task to make any headway. Instead, I was wracked by anxiety, fear and self-doubt.
Paralysis by analysis is a common problem that can strike out of nowhere. It occurs when we overanalyze a situation and get so caught up in assessing the viability of potential solutions that we never take any action. In effect, we paralyze the outcome.
My coach's words rang true. In addition to my current company, I had been working on a new venture, and I was so busy considering solutions to various problems at both ventures that I became unable to make a single, clear decision, which impacted my performance and stalled my progress.
How to Get Your Focus Back
I get it -- nobody likes to be wrong, nor does anyone want to make the wrong decision. There's a reason today's B2B sales cycle is longer than ever: There are so many stakeholders involved at each stage because everyone wants to have an opinion, but no one wants to have the ultimate responsibility of making the decision.
Decision-making gets delayed, options are considered and discarded, and eventually, the team settles on the safest choice, which is to not make any decision at all. But this approach doesn't work in a startup. To be successful, startups need to be lean, flexible and respond instantly to evolving marketplace dynamics.
Somewhere along the way, I had lost my ability to confidently make decisions, and allowed myself to become distracted by too many problems. Jaime had exposed my biggest struggle: I needed to stop thinking so hard and just start doing. My inability to do so in my new venture was adversely impacting all aspects of my life, including in the Muay Thai ring.
What had once served as a sacred place for keeping me focused and energized had revealed just how distracted and de-energized I had become. My coach said it best: "Stop worrying so much about being perfect, and let things happen. You need to stop worrying so much about getting everything correct and focus on getting one or two things right. If you can start doing, then you can get there - but your mind needs to let things happen. Don't let the need to be perfect stand in the way of improving yourself."
Don't be a "Wantrepreneur," Be an Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs cut through the noise, identify a cause and work on it with laser focus. Wantrepreneurs, on the other hand, tend to stagnate, paralyzed by indecision and tantalized by possibilities. It's not that entrepreneurs never multitask, but it's how they multitask that makes the difference. They are able to tame their minds, stop worrying about being perfect, and simply "let things happen."
As I walked out of the gym that night, I felt refreshed for the first time in weeks. By improving my ability to focus in the ring, Muay Thai has empowered me to keep my focus out of the ring, too -- and that's invaluable for an entrepreneur. So don't worry about being perfect. Instead, just be.
Rana Gujral is an entrepreneur, CEO and investor, and is involved with several startups.