Ready. Fire. Aim.

Anybody who’s watched a Civil War movie (or has heard the Iron Man theme by Imagine Dragons) is familiar with the term “Ready. Aim. Fire.” Classically speaking, it’s a series of commands that officers used to order soldiers to discharge their weapons. The concept is simple: Ideally, it’s best to prepare, then get the goal in sight before pulling the trigger.

Well … Usually. But not always.

There’s a downside to Ready. Aim. Fire. Some have called it paralysis by analysis. This condition rears its head when we exert so much effort in the pre-action stages that we seriously delay getting to what we actually planned to do.

The remedy might be to mix things up a bit. It’s what I (and others) call Ready. Fire. Aim.

Ready. Fire. Aim. means taking a shot – any shot – to see where it lands. That provides a frame of reference from which to adjust for the next round. Attempt number two may not hit the bullseye either, but it’s bound to be closer. And on it goes. Progress. Steps in the right direction.

This method can often lead to a win in less time than we might have otherwise spent trying to find the perfect way to get started.

For example, let’s say you want to paint a room in your house. You could spend hours on Pinterest and Instagram, talk to friends, read blogs, study sample chips at the Sherwin-Williams store, watch YouTube videos, and more. Ready. Aim. Fire.

Or you could buy one of those tiny cans of paint and roll a couple strokes on the wall to see how it looks. Too dark? Get a lighter shade and try again. Better? One more attempt. Nailed it. Ready. Fire. Aim.

Obviously, Ready. Fire. Aim. doesn’t work for everything. I wouldn’t want my surgeon or airline pilot to use this technique. But for many endeavors it’s just fine. It can cut short the locker room discussions and get us onto the playing field. It might even be the difference between success and failure.

An ancient proverb says, “I fear that I will spend my life tuning my instrument and never master the song I was meant to perform.” That would be a tragedy. On the other hand, why not jump in, do our best, and learn from the experience? That’s Ready. Fire. Aim … a great way to target the outcomes we desire most.

6 comments on “Ready. Fire. Aim.Add yours →

  1. Alan Williamson says:

    As a writer, I often find that “Ready. Fire. Aim.” is the most productive path to a finished piece that hits all the right notes. I do my research, spend some time processing the information, and then put something down on paper. Sure, I could delay the initial writing in favor of more research and processing, but getting a first draft in the works – no matter how imperfect – takes me past the intimidation of the blank page and gives me something on which to build. Thanks Steve for bringing this counter-intuitive topic into clearer focus from high atop the Twenty Thousand Feet observatory.

  2. I appreciate that perspective. It reminds me of one of my favorite lines in a poem, “Sweeter to me are failures made with a loving heart, than all the pride and prudence that canst boast.” My daughter even encouraged me to, “Just do something”… “Put it out there” when it came to creating YouTube content for our Family Tree Farm channel. Paralysis by analysis is very real. So when do you take the leap? When you can offer a little. A little is OK. : )

  3. Steve, Thanks for sending.
    In artillery school , first you” fire for range” to get started and make sure you are in the ballpark, then ” fire for effect” once you work your way to your target!
    You are correct, “just do it ” is a process!
    Steve Newman

  4. Steve Fales says:

    I really appreciate the comments. Thank you. – Steve

  5. Thank you Steve! Always a timely word and delivered with just the right amount of analogies and humor.

    Write On!

    Greg S.

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