8 Steps to Achieving the UnReasonable

Bill McKibben is a serious environmental advocate.  As a founder of 350.org. he has helped coordinate 15,000 rallies in 191 countries since 2009. Time Magazine called him ‘the planet’s best green journalist’ and the Boston Globe said in 2010 that he was ‘probably the country’s most important environmentalist.’

McKibben and 350.org have stepped are now taking on the well-financed oil companies in their battle against climate change.

His recent campaign, the Do the Math Tour, which landed him on the front page of The New York Times last month, is creating momentum:  having colleges and universities around the country divest from oil companies.

Stefan and friend, Bill McKibben, at Do the Math tour in NYC.
Stefan and friend, Bill McKibben, at Do the Math tour in NYC.

McKibben explains this is a strategy that, against all odds, is credited with changing South Africa’s apartheid practices in the 1980’s.  It started with students demanding their universities to divest from businesses supporting the pro-apartheid government.  They made apartheid into a global dirty word.

McKibben’s goal is to turn the fossil fuel industry into a global dirty word as well.

So far, he’s off to a good start:  today, students from many colleges and universities, included three which I am affiliated with, are demanding the administrations to divest from fossil fuel investments.

Some publicly stated they are, and some they are not, but all seem to be listening.

And while he says he knows it is a long shot, Bill McKibben is committed to achieving the UnReasonable.

And he is certainly not alone in attempting what most people feel can’t be done.

Yet can’t and shouldn’t, in this context, are just limited ways of thinking.

They are the least favorite words in the English language of innovators, leaders, and entrepreneurs trying to change the status-quo.

Just know that entrepreneurs are dead in the water if they get stuck in the mindset of can’t and shouldn’t.  Yet so many often find themselves doing exactly that.  “I shouldn’t go to that event”, “I can’t raise the capital I need”, or “(fill in the blank)”.

8 Steps to Achieving the UnReasonable

  1. Clear Outcome—a vision of exactly what you want to create.  Using the McKibben example, schools around the country divesting in oil companies.
  2. Intense Determination—how badly do you want it?  The bigger the goal, the harder you’re going to fall.  And you will fall.  What will get you back up is why you want it.
  3. High Stakes—what “skin” have you put into the game?  Also known as throwing your hat over the wall (now you have to climb the wall to retrieve it).
  4. Smart Strategy—create specific and measurable results and milestones to get there.  Remember, what can be measured can be monitored.  Vague goals get you vague results.  Create your “what and by when” here.
  5. System for Obstacles—the bigger the goal, the more the obstacles.  How will you manage them to move things forward?
  6. Powerful Support—if you think you can do this alone, most likely you are either fooling yourself or you goal is too small.  Support helps you stretch, focus, and be accountable.  Board of Advisors, business colleagues, mastermind groups, mentors and coaches are great for this.
  7. Stay Open—others may have better ways of accomplishing your goal.  Listen, contemplate, decide, then act.
  8. Powerful Questions­—it’s easy to psych yourself out. “Why can’t I land this client?” vs. “What is the fastest way to land this client?”  Whatever you ask yourself, you’ll answer.  Choose wisely.

Whatever your definition of UnReasonable is, whether it’s getting rid of fossil fuels or ramping up your business significantly and sustainably, these steps will make the outcome much more likely.

Just ask Bill McKibben.


Action Steps for the Week

First, get clear on your UnReasonable goal.  Is it a stretch?  Is it something you want?  (TIP:  the feeling of both fear and excitement need to be present.)

Next, define what specifically is the goal and by when is it to be accomplished.  Use numbers and dates for this.  Your brain will focus on the concrete better than abstract.

Then create your strategy, with quarterly and monthly milestones, to achieve your goal.

Make sure to put your team in place.  Who are the people you can reach out to for advice, feedback, and accountability?  Two to three people, minimum.

Finally, just get started.  Don’t over-analyze. Getting started is often 2/3 of getting it done.

And don’t forget to have a blast being UnReasonable.