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This computer programming principle may be the key to unlocking entrepreneurial success 

This computer programming principle may be the key to unlocking entrepreneurial success 

Apologies for the radio silence lately – I haven’t been missing-in-action, but simply enthralled and digging in deep with the work we’re doing over at Commit Action.

Turns out, scaling a coaching service to thousands of entrepreneurs becomes statistically fascinating. If you could see some of what we’re uncovering – trends, tendencies, cognitive biases – and what it suggests about the nature of entrepreneur success, you’d be stuck in the bat cave with me too!

One of the riveting concepts to come out of this work is the idea of an unfair entrepreneurial advantage, that some people seem to effortlessly do better than others in the pursuit of business goals. And when the team and I started asking WHY, things got really interesting. 

A tiny percentage of entrepreneurs succeed bigger, better and faster than everyone else because of some very specific mental tendencies.

In January, I shared a bunch of these tendencies with a small horde of curious business owners via webinar. Today I want to break down something new – that I’ve never shared publicly before – about the psychology of the effortlessly successful among us.

Independent researchers have confirmed precisely what myself and my team are finding, and I fully anticipate a tectonic shift in the behavioral sciences – particularly around human high performance – as a result of folks waking up to this idea.

Turns out, the nerds may really be on track to inherit the earth because one of the most powerful mental tendencies that rockets business owners to mega success – and keeps them there – mirrors a principle of computer programming.

The mental potency of IF-slash-THEN

Professor Peter Gollwitzer of New York University is the world authority on this principle. He defined a fascinating concept called an “Implementation Intention”. It’s a approach to thinking and intentionality around goal setting and action-taking, and we’ve observed a HUGE predilection for it in the most effortlessly successful entrepreneurs.

The thesis of all our work is that if only entrepreneurs could follow through and take action on all the grand intentions they have for their business ideas, they will either:

A) Succeed massively

B) Experience ultra-valuable real world learning experiences

… and the more someone experiences B, the sooner they’ll find their way to A.

In this sense, procrastination is the ultimate enemy to entrepreneur success. Hesitation, distraction, complacency and all their sabotaging cousins are what hold the vast majority of aspiring entrepreneurs back from creating the concrete results they want and NEED.

Those who don’t definitively defeat this monster descend into overwhelm beyond endurance, burning out and ultimately giving up. 

Gollwitzer’s Implementation Intentions allow entrepreneurs to set goals that anticipate obstacles in such a way that the intentionality carries the individual through and past any such obstructions, to a positive outcome on the other side.

Implementation Intentions are the ultimate mental hack for beating self sabotage before it happens.

So where does computer programming come into it?

Implementation Intention’s work on the principle of “if/then” pre-planning, that allow an entrepreneur to mentally anticipate and prepare auxiliary approaches to the various things that can distract or divert you from achieving your goals.

A perfect example is the entrepreneur with an intention to make an essential – but scary – sales call. For the vast majority, a simple intention will be set. People tell themselves:

“This is something I should do first thing tomorrow.”

This basic example of an entrepreneur’s internal dialogue is typical, and representative of everything that’s broken about the way most folks go about actioning key revenue generating activities.

The entrepreneur who intuitively uses Implementation Intentions thinks differently:

“This is something I should do first thing tomorrow and…

… IF I wake up late, THEN I’ll move my meetings back to make time and…

… IF I don’t feel like it, I’ll knock back a shot of espresso and just pick up the phone and…

… IF they don’t answer, I’ll leave a voicemail and try again in the afternoon and… 

… IF I get the jitters, I’ll watch an aspiring TED Talk for 20 mins to find my mojo then call and…

… IF they answer and are hostile, I’ll remind myself you have to hear several ‘No’ to get to a ‘Yes’ and…

… IF the internet isn’t working or there’s construction noise outside or whatever, I’ll go down the road and make the call from a coffee shop and…” 

You get the idea.

Implementation Intentions mirror the way we program commuters to reliably carry out sophisticated functions. We prepare them for every eventuality we can. That’s how robust and useful software is born.

In an entrepreneurial mind, implementation intentions are proven to increase performance with the power of pre-decision.

Entrepreneurs who naively set goals without any intention around the various what-if scenarios that always occur, never get as much done as they want. Their goals grow stale on their white boards, their businesses plateau and flounder.

Without implementation intentions, wannabe entrepreneurs allow themselves to be victimized by circumstance. They believe – blaming with deep conviction – that the obstacles that prevented them moving forward on their dream were both real and overwhelmingly insurmountable.

The agency founder KNOWS she needs to focus on sales, but finishes every day with the CRM un-touched swearing that tomorrow will be different and she’ll start on it FIRST THING! Only to wake up, check email and get derailed all over again.

The blogger knows he should write every day, but something always seems to get in the way.

The SaaS entrepreneur knows she should get on the phone and find pain points from real conversations with prospects. In fact, the knowledge she SHOULD be doing this (but isn’t) sits uncomfortably with her all day long while an onslaught of tempting distractions – may of which feel like important work – get in the way.

Sound familiar?

Closing the gap between your best intentions and actual results… comes down to your psychology.

Do you have the mental make up of someone who effortlessly transmutes goals into outcomes… or do your biggest and best ideas sit on your to-do list gathering dust while you find other things to do?

This article is a tiny glimpse into the absolute cutting-edge of the work we’re doing over at Commit Action, and some of the methodology we’ll be rolling out to our clients in the coming months.

This is only the second time I’ve pulled the curtain aside even slightly, and the first was a webinar I ran in January – a one time event that raised such a furor that our entire company have been working overtime since!

On Tuesday the 5th of May 2015 (next week), we’re going to make a replay of that January event available to watch online, for 24 hours only.

It’s taken us three months of internal preparations to get to the point we can cope with the (unexpected) demand that smashed us in January, and even still we’re a little afraid of what may ensue.

It’s important to me to do this though, because the material we shared in that webinar hit people in such a powerful way that I got hundreds of emails asking for a replay, a copy of the notes and even begging us to make it more widely available.

I’ve been working to find and build the format we’ll use long term to release our findings and methodologies, but it’s nowhere near ready yet – so this replay will give those who’ve been waiting access in the interim.

Tuesday’s presentation will be about an hour and a half long, and you can watch it any time between 10am US Eastern Time on the 5th of May, through to 10am on Wednesday 6th.

The topic is simple –  I’ll be breaking down the uncomfortable truth we discovered through our work in 2014:

Why Superhuman Entrepreneurs succeed easier, faster and more often than everyone else – and how you can become one too (90 minutes)

24 hour viewing window only – starting Tuesday 5th of May at 10am Eastern US time

We started 2014 with a hypothesis, that there were 4-5 core factors that “made the difference” between the rockstar success stories in business… and the wannabes who never seem to get anywhere. If you’ve checked out my work at Commit Action you probably even know what those core factors are.

Well, turns out we were right… way too right.

What we stumbled upon, in our work, is the horrifying impact of the lightning divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots” in the entrepreneur world.

We originally thought there was a spectrum: Some people really were very successful, some moderately so and others not – with everything else spread between.

What we’ve discovered is that this is a BINARY difference. The entrepreneurs in one group have everything – a total UNFAIR advantage – while the others have next to nothing and are miserable because of it. They’re trapped their too, with no options and no way out.

The presentation we’re sharing on Tuesday, quite literally, could change your life and business. The testimonials from the people that attended were absolutely shocking in their intensity and sincerity.

To watch the recording on Tuesday, all you have to do is be subscribed to my email list – you probably already are, but if you found this article via a friend or social media you can subscribe at the sidebar at the top of this page.

I’ll send out access details Tuesday morning.


+ Add Comment
  1. Excellent post Peter. I didn’t know I was doing this unconsciously sometimes (and now that I think about it) if I didn’t setup implementation intentions then the task wouldn’t get done. Looking forward to the post on Tuesday. 🙂

  2. We are a bunch of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community.
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  3. Wow. This sounds great. Sadly I found your site just today and missed the webinar. Do you plan to make the webinar available again at sometime in the future?

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