Don’t Delay – The Lights Will Never Be All Green

by Tim Francis on January 31, 2012

When I speak with any excited business owner, they never fail to see the potential in things – I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.  Entrepreneurs are notorious for seeing opportunity everywhere – what “could be”.  And it’s you and I’s Achilles Heel, our Samson’ Hair (or whatever that analogy is)…. it’s simultaneously our strength and our weakness.

All of this enthusiasm hits the wall, though, if you and I demand certainty.  I myself have a really tough time letting projects go out the door that aren’t the absolute image of perfection.  And I know that this costs me money unnecessarily.

Maybe that’s you too?

Or maybe you’re the entrepreneur that is over-cautious.  Not willing to put a new product out on the market unless you’re sure it’s going to be profitable, not going to hire a new staff unless you’re absolutely sure that there’s going to be enough work for her.

Overall, I don’t think that business owners like you and I have as much challenge with this as the general population, but I thought it was still valuable to provide the following analogy…

Green Lights from New York to SanFrancisco

Let’s say that you and I want to drive from NYC to SF.  Exciting – road trip!!!!  We’re going to have such a good time :)

But if we refused to leave NYC until we knew with 100% certainty that every traffic light would be green between NYC and SF, we would never, ever leave.

Or substitute that with whatever you like…. road conditions, possibilities of an accident, weather, car break-downs…. the list of possible perils is plentiful!

Or how about in your business?

I’m not opening a new location until I know we’ve got full capacity at location number 1 (even though you have a strong feeling it would work).

I’m not starting a new marketing campaign until we’ve sold out last year’s stuff (even though you are watching your competitors make a killing on the new stuff).

Again the list goes on…

Make Decisions like a Navy SEAL

That said, there definitely ARE times to hold back and not go great guns as they say.

So how to deal with this conundrum?  When is it time to advance and attack despite the unknown?  And when is it time to hold back and wait?

I’m not a military guy, but I once heard a story about Navy SEALs.  I hope it’s accurate, and if it’s not, I hope you still find value in the principle (and sorry to the SEALs out there).

The 70% Solution

Now keep in mind that these guys (currently only men are allowed to be SEALs – judge that as you will) are making decisions of life and death essentially every single mission.  The decisions they make may lead to the death of a fellow SEAL, an entire platoon of “regular” Marines, or worse an entire city or country if they fail at their mission.

You might say that the stakes are high.

Despite the fact that their missions are planned meticulously and they often use state-of-the-art equipment that you and I won’t hear about for another 5-10 years, things still go wrong for them all the time.  An unexpected cornfield farmer meets them along the way, the weather turns on them, or a piece of electrical wiring breaks.

So they developed the 70% solution anytime they need to make a decision.  Basically, if they have….

70% Information – 70% Confidence

….they will proceed.  Not 100% information, Not 100% confidence.  Heck, not even 75% of either.

Just 70% information and 70% confidence.

And if they can do it when lives are on the line, you and I can probably do the same on something like – um – a Google Adwords account, Infusionsoft decision, or marketing campaign.

Put things into perspective, hey?

Hope that Helps,

Tim :)

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Winnie Lau January 31, 2012 at 10:41 pm


I feel the exact same way, however in relation to FEELING financially empowered.
Hearing common statements like:
“Until I have my debt paid off , then I will be happy”
“Can’t participate in anything fun until all my debts are gone”

If people wait til they are completely debt free or completely organized financially then they are enslaved to feeling stressed, poor, ashamed, not responsible and perhaps wreckless, unhappy, etc.

Totally pick up what your laying down Tim.

In my own words:
If your waiting for all the right things to fall in place before you make a decision, it’s critically important to get into the habit of when your feeling this way to get into the habit of adopting a perspective that’s going to inspire you to take action so that your creating a momentum that moves you forward, despite the feeling that it isn’t perfect yet!


Carly February 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I remember a year after Bryan and I started dating, I was having a chat with my mom. I said to her, “Bryan and I have decided not to get married until we’ve paid off our debts, buy a house, settled in our career, and ready to have kids.” And my mom, who is normally a lot more cautious than I ever could be said to me, “Carly, if you wait for all those things to happen first, you will never get married.”

It was one of the wisest things she’s ever said to me. Looking back, had we waited for the “perfect” conditions, Bryan and I would still be dating, and Mackenzie wouldn’t be there.

Same went for moving back to Vancouver. For 8 years I said to myself, “we’ll move back to Vancouver when we can afford to buy a house, when we build a network out there, when everything here in Edmonton is settled,…etc” And it took me 8 yeas to realize that I was just waiting for “green lights”. Turned out, that’s not how life works. We made the decision to move and somehow EVERYTHING fell into place.

I know when I wait for things to be perfect before moving forward, I end up wasting valuable time before learning my lesson. This is a good reminder for me, thanks for posting, Tim! :)


Tim Francis February 6, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Hey Carly, and Winnie too, thanks for expanding the conversation beyond just marketing and business. I am really good at being focused on action in business – not waiting for the lights to be green – although sometimes in my personal life I am not as clear. So thanks for giving me moment to pause and think about the wider application of this idea. Tim :)


David Wolf February 9, 2012 at 12:57 am

Tim- Thanks for this article. The Navy Seals example reminds me of a quote from Albert Camus, who said:

“Sometimes life beckons us to make a 100 percent commitment to something about which we are 51 percent sure.”

Sincerely, David Wolf


Tim Francis February 9, 2012 at 10:45 pm

WOW! What an awesome quote – I literally laughed out loud :) :) :)

(not from a place of ridicule or condescension, but rather outright and complete agreement!)

Isn’t it just so true?

Honoured to have you visit my website and leave a comment… I’m touched, Dr. Wolf!

And for anyone reading this comment, I highly recommend that you read some of Dr. Wolf’s teachings, which can be found at: …Dr. Wolf’s seminars have been some of the most profoundly moving I’ve ever participated in, and through those experiences I’ve made some of my life’s most important discoveries and decisions. Thank-you forever David.

With respect and appreciation that extends beyond words,

Tim :)


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