By Nick Ruiz
"Rough draft moves" have enabled me to achieve success from complete scratch multiple times in my life as an entrepreneur in multiple industries. I've built two large real estate companies and an education company — and two of those successes were right after filing bankruptcy. After I've dissected all of my achievements, I've realized my achievements have all come down to rough draft moves. They are essential to an entrepreneur's success: Whether we know it or not, many of us have made a series of rough draft moves that have opened doors and led us to where we are today.
So, what are rough draft moves? They're the actions that come between the steps I call "pre-action analysis" and "post-action analysis."
Most people get caught up in the pre-action analysis which is, at its core, analyzing nothing more than a series of thoughts bouncing around in the brain, when there's no actual, real-world data to assess. Most people are at a stand-still before they truly begin.
Rough draft moves pierce the imaginary scenarios, the what-ifs and the planning, and instead make a dent in the real world application of your idea. They are actions you take toward your goal, even before you know everything you need to or will come to know. These moves are real, rather than plans on a whiteboard or spreadsheet. After making rough draft moves, you now have actual events that you can analyze with real data.
Next, in post-action analysis, you can assess what actually happened, instead of what could have happened. Outcome assumptions and predictions are useful to make, but ultimately are just guesses. Making the move is what gives you the information you need. And here's the great part: Maybe 90 percent of your first rough draft move was terrible and didn't work, but there was 10 percent that made some small result. Now you have a small "success seed" that you can build off of that has been proven in the real world. From there, you simply make another rough draft move, and then another and keep building quickly.
Rough draft moves allow you to weed out what doesn't work, keep the ideas that do and move forward with an expanded view and consciousness in your entrepreneurial journey. Doors can open that you didn't know existed.
Here's an example of how rough draft moves helped me achieve a goal:
I wrote my second book, called Success From Scratch: Mental Strategies for Success in a Survival of the Fittest Environment. The problem is that I am not naturally a good writer. I have a lot to share, but staring at a blank page and a keyboard is paralyzing to me. In pre-action analysis I decided that, since I love to talk, I could try to speak a chapter into a microphone and transcribe it to shortcut the writing a little bit. That was the rough draft move. I didn't really expect much other than maybe slightly less writing time. I didn't have a big plan or mapped-out script of what to say; I just reviewed a few bullet points and rolled with it.
Turns out, that worked better than I expected. When I got the transcription back, it was pretty sloppy. But the good news was that I was able to use post-action analysis. I analyzed the data that actually existed, instead of what could have happened if I spoke a chapter. And I realized that I was onto something, and did it with another chapter. I identified some of the things that made the first transcription sloppy and tweaked my words to improve the next recording. That next transcription came back better. Pretty soon, I realized that I was better off (and happier to) speak the whole book — so that's exactly what I did.
Instead of trying to write my book traditionally, I did it my way, using my own rough draft moves to steer its evolution in a direction that worked for me. Would I tell you it's the best way to write a book? Of course not! I will tell you that it's the best way for me to write a book, based on analysis of the moves I made. The completion of the book happened unbelievably faster than I would have expected because of my rough draft moves.
Being paralyzed by analyzing the work ahead before you take any new action diminishes your ability to reach a threshold of new growth and opportunity. The only thing that's going to enable you to level up is action. Taking consistent action through uncomfortable first steps and analyzing the work afterward becomes a habit that allows mistakes to be learned from quickly. This real-world data, then, creates a path toward success.
When you analyze potential steps on a whiteboard or a chart, that is but the first in a series of steps. Postponing action is postponing the inevitable mistakes and failures needed to reach that next level toward success. You can be a doctoral candidate and write a phenomenal thesis paper on what creating success from scratch looks like based on research, but if you've never actually created success from scratch, it's simply a theory. And though theory has its place, when you're committed to climbing the ladder of successful entrepreneurship, theorizing over taking action risks leaving a lot of doors of opportunity closed. Make your thoughts real in your activity: Even if 1 percent of your real-world efforts have ground to stand on, it's worth learning about the 99 percent that didn't work. That 1 percent seed you now have is enough to nurture and build on.
The more moves you make, the better you get at making the correct moves, which positions you to understand better decisions and actions in the future. You’ll soon start to see an exponential avalanche of positive results. Operating with real data, that you gather as a result of rough draft moves, will move you toward accomplishing your goals.
Nick Ruiz is the creator of Alpha Home Flipping and Alpha Success Training.