NATO stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization also called the North Atlantic Alliance. Its an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4 April 1949.
But I am not talking about this NATO. I cant really remember who coined this acronym, but the NATO I’m talking about stands for ( No Action, Talk Only).This was used for anyone that is just full of words, a person that is always talking about their exploits or expertise but doesn’t have anything to show for it. No action whatsoever.
This expression came back to my mind when I got calls recently from 2 of my close pals that I regularly bounce ideas off & share dreams & visions with. The first call was from one of my best buds & former classmate. He called to let me know that the business idea we talk about during our MBA syndicate group discussions in 2013 has been actualized by someone & the person has finally resigned from paid employment to face that business squarely.
The second call was from another pal from the US. She called to say hi & catch up, we quickly gave a status update on where we are currently & what we are doing. Then again she asked, when are we doing the stuff we shared & agreed on in terms of our dreams & visions in the area of mentoring,career development, e.t.c.
There & then it struck me….. In this aspect of my life I am becoming a NATO guy!!! I’m sure this will ring a bell for most of us. We have goals & desires that we want to achieve, we talk about it regularly, with finesse & clarity, but we don’t move from talking to actions. I recently shared 2 posts on personal development planning and aside setting the goals in the planning phase, the next big thing to do is take corresponding action.
Please don’t get me wrong, I take actions in other areas of my life, but in this particular area of entrepreneurship, I have found out that actualizing certain dreams & goals has been at a stand still because I have not taken actions. The question is WHY?
After taking some time out to assess myself I found the following answers:
1. Comfort Zone: I am comfortable & contempt. I’ve been privileged to have a good life, my relationship with God is great, my family is fantastic, I love my job so much, got great friends, I am physically fit & mentally sharp. Things are running on rails for me & I am thankful. But you know this could be a barrier to moving on to greater things, the barrier to greater success is recent ones. I realized that I need to push myself further, just like a 100m runner that’s got a personal best of 10s will strive to go lower & break the 10s barrier just like Usain Bolt did. Even Mr Bolt is raising the bar by trying to break his previous record of 9.58s. I need to leave the comfort zone & chase my dreams.
I don’t know if you are in the same situation but don’t be at “ease in Zion” there are victories to be won out there & the world is waiting for you to breakthrough that barrier & showcase what you have inside of you.
2. The fear of the unknown: I am afraid of the unknown. I find it ridiculous as I have done some crazy things in the past, took the risks & things turned out right. its human nature to always fear what we don’t know, initially people thought the world was flat & that if you sail so far in one direction you will drop off the face of the earth, we held this notion as true until people started to venture into the unknown, Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the Americas- “the new world“- helped to correct that myth & authenticate that the world was round. I need to do some more research to ensure that the level of unknown is reduced drastically to the point where I can make calculated & well informed decisions.
If you are in the same boat with me, the solution is to acquire more knowledge in that particular area.
3. The fear of failure: Failure!! This 7-letter word is a major barrier to venturing & reaching out to achieving set goals. Personally I have a very high affinity for success & I don’t like failure. I believe this is true for a lot of people, but I think it’s better to act & fail than not act at all.
in 2013 I applied for the maiden YALI ( Young African Leadership Initiative) program set-up by the US President Barak Obama for young Africans below 35 to bring their innovative ideas about how to move Africa forward in the areas of Civil Leadership, Public Management, Business & Entrepreneurship. my application was accepted successful, I was in the top 5% of applicants from Nigeria & was invited for the final face-to-face chat ( interview).
I prepared well for the chat, reviewed my business plan & looked at my projections everything was fine except in the area of actual deployment & testing of these ideas, I was lacking as I could only point to one example. I was told that I should have ventured out more & they would have been happier if I told them stories about my failed attempts in addition to the great idea I presented. Unfortunately I didn’t make the final 50, but I learnt a great deal from that experience. Don’t fear failure, use it to gain experience.
4. Need people: One of the things I also realized in the YALI experience was that I cant do everything by myself. I need people. We all have unique gifts & talents, something to contribute to the whole & no one person owns everything. I like this expression ” Everything that works is connected”. For my idea to see the light of day, I need to connect to others,I need resources beyond myself to get it done. I’ve been watching Dragon’s Den on BBC for a while now & I’ve seen that the ideas that get the highest percentage of support are those that come with a team. it shows that people in the team have assessed themselves to know their strengths & weaknesses and have gone to get those that will fill the holes. This is a great virtue to Investors. Others shows like the Apprentice also confirm this principle.
Most of the times these investors want to hear about your failed attempts as much as the actions you have taken.
5. Want to start big: Finally I realize that my dreams are very big & I always want to start things big. I now realize that I should concentrate on starting well not big. If I start well, it will grow big.
On the 13th of December 2014, I met someone that challenged me in this regard. I went to church for a program early that Saturday morning & during the program I was looking out for people’s safety ( as we are still going through the construction of the church building, I removed sharp objects from the floor, pulled out cables to ensure that no one fell down, e.t.c), unknown to me she was doing the same on the other side & as we finished the program everyone aimed for the exit.
Now there was this piece of fabric that was hanging out on the wall/door which restricted smooth flow of human traffic. We went for it & grabbed it the same time so as to push it out of the way, since I was taller than her, I did what was needful & everyone got out safely.
Then we exchanged pleasantries & started talking, the connection was quick, we realized that we love to help people & have similar goals & dreams.I mentioned the fact that I am a NATO guy, she laughed & said she was too, but now realized that she always want to start big. Just start well she said, even if it’s a blog, get the word out there.
Plan big, but start well!!
So if you are out there & you are a NATO member, please take these 5 points & revoke your membership. I am trying to do the same….
This is my snippet, I am SHALOMESQ