“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
That’s an ironic start to this post as it is, by definition, not meant to be about cliche quotes or bullshit advice. No, it’s about the true key to success — imperfect action. All too often people, myself included, get stopped by a false perception of progress. The abundance of information, connection, and opportunity that’s readily available just lubricates the slope leading into analysis paralysis. It’s too easy to compare your beginning to someone else’s middle and feel as though any action you take would be in vain.
This series is me, with all my might, slamming my axe into the glacier ice to prevent the fall from the cliff.
Death by lack of action is anything but swift.
Since launching this blog it’s no secret that I haven’t been great about posting consistently. There were, and still are, a number of barriers that have hindered me from being more active. The fear that I would never be able to live up to the success of my first post was the first of many significant barriers. I used the tidal wave of consulting that came from the success of that post to hide from writing more. “I’m so busy I just don’t have the time” I lied to myself.
I had everything I needed. Everything except the right mindset.
The external pressure to produce something of the same caliber was far greater than the pressure within and it crushed me. Every day I sought opportunities to teach, support, and entertain those around me yet when I went to write — I couldn’t find my voice. Before launching this blog I had spent months preparing myself for what was to come. I meditated to find the root of my hesitations, I journaled to become familiar with my voice, and I talked to those I revered as I knew they had broken through these same barriers.
Taking a page from the martial art of Judo, instead of fighting against the force of my enemy I used the energy of the attack to secure my victory. I didn’t fight it, conquer it, or ignore it — I tapped in and used it. I managed to consciously harness my anxieties about the impending broadcast of my voice and channeled it into the details of the launch. This resulted in a better execution of the strategy from a logical perspective, but not an emotional one.
I made one fatal mistake. When it came time to pull the trigger — I didn’t teach myself, I tricked myself.
“Just write” I told myself, “no one is going to read this right now. You have to create content consistently over time before you develop an audience. By that time, you’ll actually know what the fuck you’re doing and people will curiously look back to your first posts as they laugh at how horribly they were written.” I knew that writing for the reader was the fastest path to developing the same generic voice and lack of personality that was tied to the “just another blogger” persona so I was selfish — I wrote for me.
The decision to write in a story format and focus each post on a specific lesson learned was a decision based purely on logic. I knew that very few others utilized that style and that content, based on stories from my life would by nature be impossible to replicate. The motivation behind the creation of the content however was purely emotional. I wanted to selfishly relive the most enlightening and entertaining moments of my life as I recorded them in a format that would prevent them from ever being forgotten. We all have little voices in our heads that, but when I sat down to write those first articles I was — for a brief moment — my true self.
When the blog went live and a half a million people absorbed themselves in my story — that connection was severed.
It felt like the world was watching and I didn’t know what to say. I had tricked myself so well that I had managed to create something out of pure passion — devoid of influence from those that might read it. I didn’t teach myself how to make that connection, I had tricked myself into feeling it. In hindsight, this led me to restrict the amount of positive feedback I received from family, friends, and colleagues throughout the review process as the content had been designed to be “good enough”. It stopped me from realizing just how much progress had been made.
I was hiding, but I wasn’t ignoring. I knew the longer I waited to get my shit together the less people would care when I finally did. In an effort to rediscover my voice I started from scratch and started journaling again, but quickly realized that much of what I was writing in my journal was the stuff I needed to be posting on the blog.
Thus an experiment was born (we all know how much I love experiments).
This is the first post of my public journal. Unlike my blog, which consists of long form posts that teach through stories, this will be a place where I share short quips — little lessons I acquire and semi-intelligent insights that people pull out of me. Part of my problem is that the chasm between inspiration and documentation is too vast — this will serve to change that.
I’m not entirely sure what will come from this, but I look forward to your feedback. If you’ve never written before, a negative response is far less threatening than a lack of one — so by all means, tell the truth. I’m not committing to daily posts, but rather as it comes to me. Someone once told me that I’m doing the world a disservice by not sharing my insights with those around me — I’m going to go with the assumption that’s true and keep writing.