I’m finishing up a new book on creativity, chasing your dreams, doing work that matters. I’m looking for some people interested in being on a launch team. Let me know if that’s you.
[A creative plea]
There’s a reason so few people make the Olympics–because it’s an incredibly difficult (impossible) task for everyone. This includes those who make it. Few people are willing to get up every morning at 4:00 before work or school to practice. Fewer still are willing to do this for multiple years.
When it comes to pursuing your dream and your calling, you will face challenges and opportunities along the way. Many times it will become difficult. Obstacles will impede progress. Doors will shut and roads will close.
But most of the time it’s the struggle to consistently show up, putting in the hours of work, receiving little or no recognition. This is the difficult work.
If changing the world were easy, everyone would do it. (Tweet This)
But this is your opportunity. This is the cost of success. Everyone knows the formula, though few are willing to follow it because it takes too long. Here’s how to take advantage of the opportunity:
Show Up: Make a commitment to show up and do the work. This means whether you feel like it or not. Others don’t feel like showing up, so they don’t. Fewer people are showing up to do hard work, so you have an opportunity
Don’t Track Results in the Beginning: Too many ideas were killed prematurely because the results weren’t world changing in the beginning. Don’t track your blog readers in the beginning, just write. Don’t count the audience size when starting to speak, just speak with passion and energy like there’s 5000 people in the crowd. Too many people see meager results in the beginning and quit too soon. This is your opportunity to push through and make it.
Keep Learning: Part of what makes fulfilling your calling and dream in the beginning is there’s a gap between your knowledge, experience and today. Make a commitment to keep learning. While most people stopped reading books in high school, you keep reading. Most people stopped paying for education after college, but you sign up for seminars, workshops and conferences. By shortening the gap of your knowledge and experience, you will gain an advantage. While others turn to Netflix, you turn to growing. This is your opportunity.
When excitement and passion wear off, most people quit—giving up on their calling. This is YOUR OPPORTUNITY. Those that changed the world, that fulfill their callings didn’t quit, they kept working, they continued to show up, the increased their learning and pushed through.
This is your opportunity too. The fact that it’s difficult is the reason you should lean in and embrace it.
Few thoughts on how to keep going when it seems far easier to quit:
Remember why you started in the first place. Recall the passion that started you down the road years ago. Rekindle that passion to keep going.
Find the Finish line. Pause and figure out where the finish line is. Often it’s closer than we realize. Sometimes it’s literally over the hill we’re climbing.
Consider the Change. What would your life look like if you were to fulfill your calling? What would happen if you could get that degree? What would happen if you wrote the book, started the non-profit, launched the business?
Think of what hangs in the balance. Consider what hangs in the balance of your decision. How many people will miss out on being helped, healed, or blessed if you quit now? I had a reader of one of my books tell me it inspired her to reconcile with a estranged sibling after decades of not talking! There are people that need your help, ideas, writing, service, business, and passion.
I know it’s difficult. I know it’s not easy. The good news is, that’s the same for everyone else. The question is, what are you going to do?
Here’s how I make sure what I learn from books stays with me. Here’s how I make it stick. Because it’s such a waste of time to spend hours (days?) reading a book with tons of ideas, principles and content that could improve your life, business, relationships, creativity, health or a number of other things and not remember them. If you don’t remember them, you want implement them. And isn’t that the reason you read the book in the first place?
First, I write in all the books I read. I take notes, I underline, I highlight. I put smiley faces at something that I find funny. I put stars for something I like. I put double stars for something I love. I will write “wow” for something that really blows my mind. This helps me to work with the content.
The main idea is to mark up what I want to remember, what I want to implement. It’s also helpful for me when I go back through a book the second time or even years later when I’m remember something in a certain book, but don’t remember exactly what it was. I will scan through my markings to trigger my memory. This is all preparation for what’s next.
Second, I go back through chapter by chapter or section by section and write up the main themes/ideas from each. If there are powerful quotes, I will quote them in my notes. If there are stories or examples that I want to remember, I’ll put those down.
My goal is to put everything on a single piece of paper. This gives me the ability to glance at the entire book, with all the principles, in two minutes or less. Doing this a few times helps push the ideas closer to long-term memory.
Nothing forces you to learn a topic like having to stand in front of someone and explain it. You can do this by teaching a class, speaking at a church, talking to a friend over coffee, or shooting a Periscope or YouTube video. Teaching a topic forces you to know it well enough to explain the why, how, what of the idea. Often you’ll need to come up with your own examples, stories and illustrations to explain it. This will further help you internalize the content.
This is where you find ways to make the content/ideas your own. This is not about stealing or plagiarizing. This is about taking the principles you want to use and use them in your life. If you learn a new health principle about increasing protein in the mornings after a workout, then start eating more eggs after your run. Find ways to begin using the ideas. Try them out, see if they work for you.
This is just a habit to review the content every so often. I do this with some content on the principles and foundation of writing. There are a few books that I review almost every year. I get a new team of leaders every spring that I teach the principles of high performing team. I use my one page summary and review it every year before teaching it to them.
Ever come up with a brilliant idea, but had no where to write it down? Ever have the solution to a huge problem just “come to you”, but you were in the shower or half a sleep in bed? Often times our best ideas come to us when we are not intentionally working on the ideas themselves. Why is that? Its a good problem to have right? Who doesn’t want to come up with more great ideas? This is how you can make it as a creative—come up with creative ideas. But what’s the secret?
If you are going to be successful as a creative, ie, doing something creative for a living, then you must find a way to find space. You need space from stimulation—anything with a screen. You need space from people and conversations. You need space from your email and to-do list.
This doesn’t mean a sabbatical in the Himalayas is necessary, although that could be nice. Studies show that a few minutes of separation or distraction from a project helps people gain fresh ideas.
The best way to find space and to ensure you actually do something with it. Try this:
I don’t know about you, but I often get overwhelmed with all that I have going on. Most of you know I’m constantly juggling multiple projects, ideas, books, blog posts, etc. It can get easy to look at it all and freeze with overwhelming fear because there’s too many things to do. There’s a new chapter to write, there’s a product to research, there’s an email to write (or 50), there’s a phone call to make, there’s an idea to sketch, and on and on and on it goes.
Here’s how I get a lot of stuff done: Take the next step.
Don’t think about the finish line. Don’t think about all the steps you need to take. Think about the next step you need to take. Then do that.
Imagine every step has been scripted for you You’re job is to scan down the list, find the the next step, and take that one. Do that enough and you’ll get a lot done.
But I don’t know what the next step is?
If this is the case, you need to spend some time sketching out a plan. Taking this time up front will eventually save you a ton of time in the end.
Breaking down huge projects into steps helps me feel overwhelmed less and in control more. If the completed project is step 100, sketch out what it would look like at step 10, 20, 30, 40…until 100. Then, start at step 1 and start working towards step 10.
If you’re trying to write a book, don’t think about the “book”, focus on the chapter or a section in a chapter. Your goal should not be to write a book, it should be to write a chapter. Don’t know what the chapter is about? Then you need to spend the time to sketch it out. Then, when you sit down to write, you’ll feel less overwhelmed and more in charge of where you’re going.
What are the projects you’re working on?
What steps are you taking this week?