I started this post off with the title “You Don’t Have to do it All at Once” and then I changed it.
Because you can’t. You simply cannot do it all at once.
You cannot drink the ocean.
Tell your four-year-old how difficult life can be. Not the four-year-old life, the forty-four year-old’s life that she’ll have some day.
Tell the newlyweds what the 65-year-old widow has just gone through. How love calls you in, and then takes you further, makes you hurt harder, love longer, and feel the depths of loss in ways you never thought possible. That they will experience emotional intensity they don’t even know exists.
Tell the newly sprouted acorn what the oak will see. The fire. The wind. The storms. The lovers, carving “B & L – 4ever” into the very skin that protects it.
You can’t do it all at once.
I’m not just talking about bandwidth and capability. I’m not picking on a particular you, like if you had just kept up with the web or paid attention in that math class. All of us you’s. You can’t speed up some kinds of processes.
Maturity is a process.
Babies grow. Bones strengthen. Minds expand.
We live in a just-add-water culture. Well, most of us do. If you’re reading this, you’re exposed to the fundamentals of this lifestyle. We expect instant results. We Google, therefore we are. In three searches, I can gain insight into the inner workings of a computer, a human heart, and a firefly. What a world.
All of this conspires against us and the idea that maturity and development happen in cycles. But it turns out, Googling how to walk won’t get the 18-month-old there any quicker.
Just like you.
You CAN make a list of the next 900 things you need to do to improve your business and create the life of your dreams. But for most people, this is the path to depression. Because not only do you not know how to do most of those, you don’t even have the strength yet to do them. You aren’t the you who will be doing those things anyway. A lot will happen between now and then.
It’s fine to look at the individuals and companies in your space and say, “Hey, I want to be like them – I want to do those things, have that kind of an impact, be successful in those kinds of ways.” But it is another thing entirely to be dreaming up a business concept while you’re shopping for a piece of commercial real estate. Or looking for a domain name AND a piece of software that will support thousands of students in your online courses.
Here’s the cold hard truth – sorry if this dings you a bit.
On that list of 900 things – sometimes the first two are things you can do now. You’re ready. You’re able. And that scares you to death. So you keep writing. Dreaming. Blue-skying the future. Which is great, at times, but must NEVER be confused with action. So now you’re frozen, two things within your grasp, a list of 898 that you can’t imagine how you’ll ever do them, and a finger on the speed dial of your nearest counselor.
Now – this may sound contradictory because I work for and support a community of people who are learning how to grow their businesses faster. It really isn’t. You CAN accelerate learning. You CAN ask better questions and get support from people who know the answers, and you CAN get help to get really clear about where to start and what to do next.
It’s just that all of that still isn’t doing the work.
I know, you can’t believe I just said that. After all the dream big ideas that you’ve read, watched, heard, and written yourself. Have I lost my mind?
No. I’m saying you’ve probably already dreamed big. You’ve probably already made a massive plan. And now it’s the next stage. Dreaming big is fine. But doing, doing is small. It’s just the next right step. Dream until your cup starts to overflow.
Overwhelm is the sign it’s time to start doing.
Action cuts a route to clarity. Move that list of things beyond your (current) grasp to the backburner. Remember that you’ll be smarter, stronger, and more experienced when it’s time for those. You have a lot to learn. This is okay. You are a madwoman on a mission today – to do the things you can do.
Imagine this… (okay some of you won’t have to, and I envy you!!)
One morning you wake up and you say:
‘Wow, I’ve got to get in shape. I would love to run a half-marathon.’
What do you do about this?
Maybe you find one to register for. But for heaven’s sake, everybody you know would tell you to train first…only a crazy person would go from the couch to the starting line in one day. By the time you’re there waiting with your number proudly affixed to you, the discipline, training, and muscle development you’ve been working on in the mornings, will pay off. A different you will cross the starting line (and the finish line).
Please understand – I’m not really saying don’t dream. But as you do dream, remember how things get done. One good, solid, honest step at a time.
That’s what the husband of forty-years knows.
That’s what the mother of five knows.
That’s what the gardener, the farmer, and the cross-country hiker discover on their journeys.
And that’s what every business goddess (and bloke) you’ll find will tell you when they are honest.
We start on a journey to change the world, and in the end, we are changed.
And when you look back from the summit, you’ll see that younger, hopeful version of yourself and you’ll know what’s in the journey between acorn and oak, girl and woman, business dreamer and business doer. You’ll know what it’s like to learn with your hands, to let the work teach you, to wait for the sun, to run in the rain, and to celebrate when you cross the line.
The path is different than you expect. The list of 900 things still won’t be all done. But just like when that once-toddler graduates college, amazed at what she has done and become, you’ll be a better version of yourself, better than you would have ever expected. And that’s an outcome worth all the work.
Enjoy the journey,
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