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Why Most People Dream and Only Some Do: The Go-Getter Theory

21.01.11 - 117 comments

I remember it like it was yesterday. I just won the biggest marble from a boy three years younger than me, and my “best buddy” back then was talking to me on how much he liked his new moped. (He wasn’t legally old enough to drive it on the street, yet he did).

He got it from his father who, I believe, up till now still has a bicycle shop.

We used to talk about things we’d like to do. He was going to have his own motor-shop one day, while all I could think about at that time was my new marble. (It was huge!) I wanted to win more marbles, get rich and …

Now let’s fast forward to present tense. My best friend isn’t my friend anymore since we went our separate ways towards different schools and places. Recently, I saw a different classmate from back then and he told me my friend is now working eight to five at the assembly line of a car factory, doing the most repetitive job possible, for no specific reason whatsoever.
Not really what he had hoped for at first.

What differs those who are naturally set to succeed, from others who are not?
Why does one “just do it” and complete a job, while the other never even gets to it, or quits at the first speed bump?

It boggles my mind why some entrepreneurs make it big while others settle for mediocre or close to nothing results!
What differentiates each of them?

Lately, I’ve met a lot of business men and students set to create a startup, and I started noticing a few differences…
It’s not education, skills or talent; It’s passion, drive and motivation. Go-getters are passionate about what they do. They wake up in the morning fired up with enthusiasm coupled with unshakeable belief that they will make life work the way they want.

People who get stuff done strive for “good enough” and go on to the next. Quit being a perfectionist…

I believe that perfectionism is a bad “quality” to have and shouldn’t be in the dictionary of any entrepreneur. If you are a perfectionist, you will try to turn every detail into a Sistine chapel and burn out. Good enough is key in getting things done. If you try to deliver “perfection”, you’ll never reach your goal.

People who do things that are good enough end up accomplishing much more than those who chase after the illusion of perfection.

Coincidentally, most successful entrepreneurs I’ve met so far are the ones who didn’t pass school with flying colours but are the ones who barely or didn’t get through. The ones who had just enough grades to go on to the next year. Why would you want to put in all this effort to obtain an excess of grades that are useless to you? Just get enough and spend the rest of your time on stuff you enjoy.

The Go-Getter is the person who acts now, not tomorrow, and thinks in short-terms.

They are proactive, not reactive. They shape their own destiny and never allow themselves to fall prey to the so-called external circumstances.
Always be asking yourself: “What is the smallest next step”, “What do I need to do now, to get things going”

People who can think of the next actionable task and are able to be specific about it, are the ones who will get to it and deal with it.
They act now and execute specific steps.

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago.
The second best time is now.

Example: Don’t think “I need to market my product to bloggers” but think in multiple specific steps:

  1. I need to get 10 names of bloggers relevant to my subject
  2. I’m going to get the names at website x
  3. What are the top 2 specific key features of my startup?
  4. Write 3 custom mails about those features
  5. Send it to them TODAY

Achievers hate to let themselves down

I’m not talking about failing. Fail big & fast. Fail forward. Don’t sweat it.

I’m talking about the mental state of those people who’d rather die trying, than give up half way. The main motivation of achievers comes from within and is not nourished from the outside. For most people, it’s easy to give up promises you make to yourself (look at all the failed new year’s resolutions) but for achievers, that’s the hardest thing to do. Walking around with the feeling that they didn’t give it all they’ve got. The feeling of “what if I went all the way”, “what if…”

The Go-Getter loves what he does (and delegates the rest)

Key to getting off your feet and kicking some ass is simply doing what you’re good at and what you love. Dump/outsource/delegate the rest. Be able to set your ego aside and let someone better than you take over the parts you suck at.

It is not education, skills nor talent; It is passion, drive and motivation.

Go-getters are passionate about what they do. They wake up in the morning fired up with enthusiasm coupled with an unshakable belief that they will make life work the way they want.

Are you a go-getter or a star-gazer? Are you going all the way or already preparing a plan B? Are you constantly talking about your idea, your exit strategy or why something just won’t work, or are you the one kicking it and working it out?

Either way, whatever is happening to you, your business, your life or your idea, whether good or bad, most likely…

It’s all your fault.

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117 Responses to “Why Most People Dream and Only Some Do: The Go-Getter Theory”

  1. Anirvana

    Fantastic!
    I couldn’t agree more to someone :)

  2. Lisa

    No wonder we have become a nation of mediocrity! This sort of thinking may get us to the end of the project, but what about the quality of the result?

    • Davy Kestens

      Hi Lisa!

      The go-getter theory implies that there are multiple types of people.
      Apart from go-getters, there are also artists and experts, but also slackers.

      What I noticed is that in a business, the go-getter is the person who you’d like to go first into a project and push the project to completion.
      Assuming that the project will be mediocre is cutting corners a bit. A go-getter realizes that he “sucks” at certain parts, and makes sure that those singular tasks are managed by artists or experts.

      It’s common knowledge in management that you should never create a team which only consists of the same type of people. But you need a go-getter to make sure that the team is constantly pushed forward and the final result will be great.

  3. Gonzalo Chagas

    Dreams stays a dream when the dreamer thinks that his or her dream is unreachable and don’t go get it!
    Great post

    Thank you
    Gonzalo

  4. Sid

    Very good article. You found a topic very relevant to the present. With the advent of internet and information superhighway, lack of knowledge is not the issue people dealing with. It’s lack of execution. The execution is the thing next generation should concentrate. Real nice topic. I loved go-getter analysis. New and well ahead of time. Kudos.

  5. Chintua

    While I whole-hertedly love this article about people who get things done, there is also place for those who not only get things done, but do things with a distinction.
    I am not a perfectionist, but standing out can also be admirable.

  6. Eric Phillips

    Nice, short and sweet article.

    As I am one of “those” people, I can verify the above helps a ton.

    Do what you love, delegate the rest. Don’t stop 3 feet from gold!

    E

    • Eddiev

      Even though he did stop 3feet from gold, he nener gave up on success… Goes to show that ppl who want it bad enough will find it! You quit you lose.

  7. Liuguksed

    Its all so true. Part what i really liked :
    Always be asking yourself: “What is the smallest next step”, “What do I need to do now, to get things going”
    Thanks for sharing.

  8. Liz

    I have to say… I am definitely a perfectionist, but this article really got me thinking. Perhaps it is because it is phrased more differently than other “shut up and do it” articles, or because I am more ready to let go of my insecurities now more than ever, but this has really hit a chord with me. I appreciate it.

  9. Russ Tafari

    Great article! Your right about settling for good enough I had never thought about it until I read this article! I was one of those perfectionist people right up until I read this! Thank you for writing it! I look forward to more articles from you!

  10. ifelicious

    great article! i could identify with most of the attributes which made me feel comfortable along my path. my achilles heel is perfectionism, and i was the kid who got great grades in school and got an advanced degree. i disagree with your downplaying of education. what doing well academically and taking education seriously has done for me is having a bigger toolkit to draw from when strategizing, problem solving, even my approach to writing. i don’t need to read a book or a bunch of articles to get certain skills because i learned them in school. And what if your business venture is one where education or certain certifications are necessary to play in that space? Don’t mean to harp on that point, but i want to present all of the reasons why i feel differently than you do. Otherwise, i think you present very valid points here.

  11. Mat Cegiela

    So true in my case, my perfectionism is paralyzing on a bad day. At the same time the feeling of getting stuff done is priceless. A well written and inspiring article. You have a talent. Thanks Davy.

  12. Alex

    Thank you. Excellent post. I’ve been trying to be perfect and all I got was frustration, now things are different…

  13. Jeffrey

    Enjoyed the article. Was glad that in your reply to Lisa you qualified some other personality types. As an Artist, the Go Getter scares the crap out of me. I fear the “good enough” mentality, yet do see it’s value in pushing me past a stall in creativity, and producing the wares I need to sell to live.

    Maybe it’s because I often wake wondering where my internal Go Getter (my passion) has gone. Maybe I’m short sighted and fatigued and my Go Getter side is taking a needed break, after the most productive season that I’ve seen yet in my business. (Sales up 1/3 after introduction of a new colour line)

    I have experienced the value of delegating and hiring go getters and experts,I unfortunately hired a few slackers too. (though they have value short term in the right positions) I now have the joy of being married and being able to both work full time in different areas of the business. This has freed me up tremendously to create and explore and improve our product.

    I believe Go Getters work best with constraints or set goals, having a definition of what “Good enough” is. As an entrepreneur Artist that is often the hardest part to settle on. Getting famous always lingers as a shadowy deception in the back of my mind, but the reality of my life will likely lie somewhere in finding a balance between becoming WalMart or being a Who Was He?

  14. Charleen Larson

    I was enjoying your article (being a Go-Getter, naturally, and taking from it what was useful to me) when I reached the last line.

    It’s all your fault.

    What a downer. Yes, the sum of what is going on in my life is as a result of my own choices. But “fault”? Seems an unnecessarily negative word.

    • James P.

      @Charleen:

      “What a downer. Yes, the sum of what is going on in my life is as a result of my own choices. But “fault”? Seems an unnecessarily negative word.”

      It is. But from experience I’d say that this is how the world can react when you’re down and out. To paraphrase a quote it is probably better to prepare for the worst and except the best.

  15. Greg Jeffries

    Excellent article! I’m a super entrepreneurial-minded person and also a perfectionist. Not until recently have I experimented with outsourcing the stuff I suck at and the results have been amazing. You just simply can not be the best at everything.

    Also, I agree with you about successful entrepreneurs – Most of the big names of popular companies never went to college, some never even graduated from high school. And most all never had any sort of formal business training. They just believed in their product or service and were passionate about it. If you do that success will almost surely follow. And if it doesn’t – who cares! You’re doing what you love.

  16. Derrick Seagraves

    Absolutely perfect, and I liked your reply to Lisa’s comment too. This is where I’m living now, after 25 years of trying to do it all; I’m just a hustler/go-getter now and doing great.

  17. Gustavo Freitas

    Really nice article and great inspiration to keep going!

  18. Dil

    I definitely have noticed this in myself. Rather than having this mentality, I ‘convince’ myself I do, but I really don’t. I know this given the lack of any results.

    The problem, for me, lies in learning to learn. How much is enough to make you feel confident in taking the action step? Many people will dive into books, seminars, etc. to gain this incredible quality and quantity of knowledge yet fail to put into action.

    I think this is valuable mentality for anybody to learn. Did I say learn? I mean implement ;)

    Great article man!

  19. Daniel Mecklenburg

    Thank you very much for this excellent post. It is so true…

  20. Max

    Thanks for all the great Inspiration, I found you from an article you posted on High Existence and I’ve read like 5 of your articles back to back. Really good stuff! I’m in college studying engineering and its really lame…doesn’t feel right for me. You’re inspiring me to want to kick this rat-race bs myself and start my own internet company (though I have no idea what it would be). Anyway I’ll definitely be reading more of your blog. Keep it up!

  21. OnRamp Access

    This is great! But it doesn’t substitute for your own creativity, if you have a dream use this as your foundation, but keep pushing after these steps are complete.

  22. AJ Borowsky

    Yes, Yes Yes! This is great. I’d add to your post that curiosity is a key component as well. Those who are curious, searching for new and exciting things are often much more successful.

  23. Lee

    “Either way, whatever is happening to you, your business, your life or your idea, whether good or bad, most likely…

    It’s all your fault.”

    That sounds like helpful advicefor all those who are struggling with their lives for whatever reason. (note ironic tone please). Have a look at Alain de Botton on TED.com for a more reasoned approach

  24. Richard

    Good article…I see that passion in my friends that are Succesful…one other trait I noticed is that they tend to o just one thing and stay passionate about that instead of trying many things at once.

  25. Conrad

    I couldnt agree less, striving for perfection is the best possible quality, i understand your point in terms of say launching a product until its perfect, because then it will never be launched. But only aiming for mediocrity is the reason we have so much garbage in terms of consumables, tv ads and general junk that you can see if only a couple of hours more were spent and it would have been great. For anybody that agrees this, read the new steve jobs biography were you will see that right before launching a product he wasnt happy and pulled it. With a approach like this the world will be a better place, rather than articles like this where you create a reason why you shouldnt work as hard as you can.

    • Davy Kestens

      Hi Conrad!
      Thank you for your reply. I definitely appreciate your critical view on my article, and although I agree on some levels, our mindset doesn’t align on the following points:

      - On the “Steve Jobs” note: When launching a product, he pulled it for not being “good enough”, which is acceptable when you have the resources to do so. If you have other items up your sleeve and don’t have to worry about going out of business within a few months, then please strive for perfection. Not delivering at all is a risk you can take. However, when Apple launched their first product, it was far from perfect, but the start of something beautiful.

      - On the “creating a reason why you shouldn’t work as hard as you can” note: Nowhere in my article, I claim that you shouldn’t work as hard as you can. I feel that hard work is a must and will get you very far. However, striving for launch-ready products instead of perfect products, isn’t a matter of not working hard enough. It’s a matter of efficiency. I feel it’s better to work 15-hours a day and create 3 good products, than working 15-hours a day in an effort to create a “perfect” (utopia) product and quitting half-way because you ran out of resources.

  26. David

    Davy,

    This is a wonderful article. You have a lot of great views and a talented way of articulation. I just want to play devils advocate in some sense for a moment. You seem to be a fairly young individual and I’d assume your late friend is as well. To say he is doing something mundane and less than gratifying does not mean he is not a go-getter. Sometimes in life we have to do things we don’t necessarily want to do. Like work in a car factory.

    I myself have had a long road of stupid jobs but they have led me down a road of learning and growing. Everyone can have the mentality that Davy speaks of. Some just take different paths to get there. It’s never to late to change.

  27. Jean-Pierre

    Bonjour David,

    Je lis votre détermination qui est positive.
    Reste à savoir si le sens de la vie doit être lié à la technologie et plus particulièrement à Internet !!!
    À méditer également.
    Vous parlez le français je pense ? Donc je me permets de vous parler en français. Libérons-nous des modes !
    Bravo pour vos questionnements.

    Bien à vous

    Jean-Pierre

  28. James P.

    “Either way, whatever is happening to you, your business, your life or your idea, whether good or bad, most likely… It’s all your fault.”

    Oh dear, this sounds ever so familiar. Hard to admit it but some of the bad stuff that happens is one’s fault even if it’s just one misstep out of many. It was a late lesson for me but I’m glad that I finally snapped out of the trap that is victimhood.

    I’m not into “the secret” hype but my theory is that there is something at work in each person which decides on their path through society. It could be just plain attitude, état d’être or those vibes you hear about in caricatures of the seventies. Whatever it is, it can be contagious in a good or bad manner. And that would be why everyone should learn to filter their contacts and say no. It’s either that or run the risk of damaging your physical and spiritual integrity.

  29. THE STRANGER

    I’m an intense perfectionist, and I do agree with a lot of the things you wrote for the most part… Especially that “you will try to turn every detail into a Sistine chapel and burn out.” It does get frustrating never being able to settle with “good enough”. It’s a lot of precious time I could have spent accomplishing other things.

    But I suppose if you’re focused on one goal, it works for the better.

  30. Nina

    Yes, Yes Yes! This is great. I’d add to your post that curiosity is a key component as well. Those who are curious, searching for new and exciting things are often much more successful

    • AJ Borowsky

      Nina,

      You are exactly right. Curiosity is a very important component of success. I talk quite a bit about this myself.

  31. Ameya

    Great! It means that I am a perfectionist :) .
    Just kidding. Nice article.

  32. Shuki

    I did not find the post interesting at all, the tile is cleaver however. But, it lacks contents. It looks as if, the author googled few one liners related to go-getter and then tried to explained in 2-3 sentences.

  33. Nitin Agarwal

    Awesome article…….It was really inspiring and a must for youngsters like me, who have just graduated out of college and have a high appetite for risk. There are lots of thoughts and ideas but the only thing most of us lack is implementation. An inspiring article, which will really teach us a lesson and keep us motivated………

    Thanks a lot

  34. Aditya

    Great stuff ! Thank you.

  35. Aquecedor

    Interesting theory. Inspiring reading.

  36. Natalia

    Thanks for this great post! It is inspiring. Fretting over the details and getting it perfect is exactly where I get stuck. It paralyzes and prevents you from even doing a “good enough” job sometimes. Mediocrity at certain levels is OK. It’s good to be cool with that.

    Thanks again!

  37. LE

    It’s interesting you should talk about ego when the “go-getter” is the biggest egotist there is. If you’re always thinking of the smallest actionable step FOR YOUR SITUATION, you will inevitably focus way too much on that situation.

    The benefit in being able to relax is the pauses you get. The go-getter may make a lot of stuff, but it also is a lot of shit.

  38. MEee

    I don’t think anyone needs to quit being a perfectionist – Steve Jobs was a perfectionist and one of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time. I think you need to know when using it will matter most and when good enough will suffice. Sometimes you can get it done and perfect it along the way which is what Apple is constantly striving to achieve ( think of iPod first gen vs now).
    Learning when to let go and when to keep pushing is definitely a great skill to have when you are an entrepreneurial perfectionist!

  39. Kemya Scott

    Just wow, excellent post! I love the perfect ending, “either way… it’s all your fault.” I couldn’t have said it any better.

  40. Himanshu

    Intresting but I don’t agree with the theory saying that those who are not a perfectionist are more successful, i think you are talking about seasonal entrepreneur here who take an opportunity in a seasonal demands and make local stuffs to generate quick money, cause if your product is not upto the mark you will not stand in longer terms.
    And dude I think you need to get out and meet some great entrepreneur who wish to bring change in how people see things, react with them, use them, their lifestyles, work and society.

    Remember one thing if you are into services your services should be visionary for your clients, rather than just completing a task and taking the fee and moving on, this will make them and the whole lot come back to you.

    If you are into products, you have to decide what slab you want to fall into money wise, social reputations wise, fan following wise etc. Your perfectionist theory will come into play here, you can easily fool off a person by selling him something with a hope that you are not going to see him again, or you can do the opposite but then you have to be a perfectionist. :)

    And never give up, Don’t quit…
    Every morning in Africa a Deer wakes up, it knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
    Every morning a Lion wakes up, It knows it must outrun the slowest deer or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matters whether you are a lion or a Deer….When morning comes up, you’d better be running…

    All the best for your future and keep spreading the good deeds & thoughts, you never know what you are writing can bring a major change in some reader’s life.

  41. Praveena Sarathchandra

    Gonna stop staring at the stars and getting things done right away!
    Thanks for this great post!
    Cheers!

  42. Jeremy

    Although I agree with you points, and anyone with a brain knows everything isn’t black and white, I want to play devils advocate.

    As an artist (and entrepreneuer) sometimes you’ve got to strive for perfection. “good enough” won’t cut it when it comes to the finished product you deliver to your customer, but this applies more to when you are honing and perfecting your own product, say a website. I think Mark Zuckerberg is best credited for the “just ship it, always iterate, and don’t worry about perfection” philosophy.

    Another thing that bugs me is what the general consensus for “success” is versus what that specific business may view their ultimate success as. If i’m building a company with a “social good” focus (ex toms shoes) then I want to make a profit and grow, but my primary goal is creating social good (and sometimes unfortunately this works in inverse proportion to rapid growth business models) so even if from the outside my business doesn’t look successful from your metric’s, weather they are making a million dollars or helping a million people, if my goal was to make enough money to provide for my family and give back, and help 10 people and I did that, then I may have been more successful than others, who may be millionaires, may ever be.

  43. NSFGirls

    Interesting thinking. You should read the Linchpin by Seth Godin if you haven’t done it yet.

  44. Liz Sinclair

    Great piece, very motivating. I’d love to read more about “passion, drive and motivation” – how you arrived at those three, specifically. Thanks for the specific examples, very helpful.

  45. Matthias Plappert

    If you have true passion and enthusiasm for something, you will never settle with good enough. You will always try to make it as beautiful and elegant as possible. However, I agree that trying to make something perfect won’t work because there’ll always be something that isn’t–well–perfect and you’ll never get anything out into the hands of customers.

    That’s why I’m using an iterative approach. Be aware of the rough corners of your product/project but decide if you can live with them for the moment. If you can’t, fix them right now. If you can, fix them later. But don’t settle with good enough. Always strive for making it even better. Always.

  46. Toni Parker

    Loved the article. You raised some great points and I agree, just do it!. It does not have to be perfect-it just needs to perform accurately and you can improve upon it. I also think education can be overrated. Jobs and Bill Gates both quit school to peruse their dreams because they were gifted in technology. Learning all of the other things that can make you well rounded is good, but not always necessary.

  47. garybronga

    Most people are dreamers. I would like to see many more take the step and go for it! Many times they are so worrided about failure they never start!

  48. Sandra Gabriel

    Great post, thank you for sharing. I can totally relate with not being a perfectionist. When I was doing my PR diploma and communications degree, I didn’t want to be the over achiever who graduated top of the class with honours, I just wanted to get my passing mark to get the paper that now hangs on my wall, nice to know I’m not the only one who thought that way.

  49. rcwerner

    Just curious if you believe that a person’s passion, could be perfection. Thoughts?

  50. Hans Eich

    good one, I barely had the time to read it all though (just reading snippets and the large font sentences worked fine), barely any time, I’ve gotta go back to doing what I love :-)

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