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Lessons for Starting a Breakthrough Project

Jun 8, 2008
Returning to the office after the 400 Year Project launch meeting in September 1995 to help the whole world make 400 years worth of progress between 2015 and 2035, my instincts as an historian kicked in. After all, a project that was going to have such great success should be well documented for the benefit of future generations. The raw video footage (shot without benefit of tripod) was packed off to a video production company that was charged with creating a videotape version of the launch event.

Only someone filled with totally unjustified confidence would ever have had that reaction. But there I was starting to record what was going on.

Any normal human being would have spent time in hiding hoping that the burden of the task would take care of itself! I, however, next turned my attention to planning the spring meeting for 1996.

Even though I had no idea what we would do at that meeting or how we would develop anything to share during the next six months, we quickly reserved a meeting room and alerted our committee of the date.

A few potential volunteers for the steering committee had avoided me after the meeting, so I also began tracking down those people to see if they would be willing to help. Most were wiser than I was and concluded that they were too busy to help: They were probably counting their blessings that they weren't going to be working on my version of Don Quixote's quest. To the skeptical listener, this project must have sounded like a boondoggle that could waste a lot of time before running out of steam.

But getting busy turned out to be the right first step. Why?

1. The videos helped attract many people to working on the project in future years.

2. People who joined the steering committee provided much good advice over the following years.

3. As soon as I began to make mistakes, I learned what didn't work and could stop doing those things.

4. By acting as though I knew what to do, I gave everyone the encouragement needed to have good morale about working on the project.

What's my advice to you?

Act as though you know how to get there, even when you don't have a clue. Then, pay attention to what works and what doesn't. Do more of the former and none of the latter. You'll get there.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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