I recently engaged in an intriguing dinner conversation with one of our new neighbors, discussing his career as a successful serial entrepreneur and marketing professor at the business school of a local university.

As he described one of his business start-ups, eventually written up as a marketing case study, I commented on the originality and ingenuity of the idea that must surely have been the root of his success.

He laughed and shook his head.

“It wasn’t the idea. There are very few if any original ideas.”

Probably detecting the puzzled look on my face, he continued.

“I tell my marketing students this all the time. It is the execution of the idea that makes it successful. We get so hung up on having the “right” or “different” idea. What we should be hung up on is taking the idea and executing the heck out of it…”


That short conversation rang in my head as I thought about several of my clients who keep coming up with ideas of what they want to do—start working on them—but stop when they hit a few roadblocks.

They question whether the idea is “original” enough and lament that what they are doing has already been done before—so they never complete the execution of the idea into concrete reality.

They abandon the execution and move to more ideation—which is actually easier for them than the long, hard road of picking an idea, sticking with it, making it concrete, and executing it.

It made me think of this weekly blog I write.

Several years ago, I had a conversation with a group I was facilitating about how little time they had for self-reflection. We talked about how inspirational just a few moments of being reminded what was important was to them—and how they needed shots of self-reflection in their lives.

As a result of that conversation, I had the idea to write a weekly, inspirational post to remind people to take a few minutes out of their busy lives and crazy schedules to do some self-reflection. I knew thousands of blogs were already out there and that many of the themes were similar, but I wanted to create a short, quick, inspirational reminder for my readers each week.

So I started writing it.

The on-going execution piece of it each week entailed:

1. Picking a topic/subject/theme each week

2. Actually writing the post

3.  Creating a list of people to receive the post and sending it to them

4.  Posting it on social media channels


I will tell you this after over two years of executing this.

The idea part was easy.

Executing it was the hard part.

Having a consistent vision, persisting, staying on a schedule week after week, keeping on theme, dealing with self-doubt and self-criticism, and all the other countless administrative things involved were much more difficult than just having the idea.

The same thing was with writing my first book. Thinking of the idea was the easy part. Actually writing it and executing the idea was another story.

So the conversation with my neighbor reminded me that success doesn’t come from thinking about something or talking about it. Without the discipline of actually planning and taking repeated, consistent action, despite setbacks and doubts and obstacles, ideas remain merely intentions. If we fail to execute on our intentions and keep at it all the way through—adjusting course as needed—the idea never takes on its new form.

It never takes on YOUR unique way of forming the idea into reality.

So– my questions for you this week are:

What idea do you need to execute on?

What’s stopping you from moving forward?

Use this post as a catalyst to stop thinking about it and begin. Create a plan and execute. Follow through.

You’ll be amazed at what you can create if you just do it.

(As for the blog—I get notes from people every week with an anecdote about how a post I sent them “spoke” to them or came “just at the right time”. I’m executing… are you?)