So when I finally understood the correct way to go about accomplishing Big Things, I got really excited, because I thought I could craft my thoughts into a solid, in-depth article like 12 Simple Ways To Impress Your Boss (And Everyone Else).
Then I realized that I am in fact something of an idiot, and most of you probably already know the secret. So I’ll spare you the long article and just drop a little common sense.
The secret to doing big things is to do small things . . . consistently.
I’ve never done things this way, which is probably why I never realized the potential benefits. I’ve been averse to hard work for most of my life, preferring instead to get by with whatever natural talent I possessed, and also a bit of luck. School was pretty easy for me, so I did very well — until I got bored. Once I lost interest, I failed half my classes and eventually dropped out. I just couldn’t bear the daily drudgery of attending classes (or exams, for that matter).
I’ve always been a pretty good athlete, but I’ve always gotten injured easily. This is because I never took the time to condition or strengthen my body — it was just too boring. But you know what? It doesn’t matter how much natural talent you have if you’re on the bench half the time. After my latest injury I finally went to a physical therapist to rehab and strengthen my shoulder, and I’ve been amazed at the improvement I’ve seen after dilligently following the regimen for over a month. (By the way, a big thanks to Melissa for putting up with me for the last six weeks.)
My aversion to hard work was so strong that when I first started my job as a web developer five years ago, someone complimented me on some aspect of my professional abilities, and said she wished she had that certain skill. I replied that she had something much better — a fantastic work ethic. I told her that she would end up going farther than me in the company because I would probably get bored and burn out, while she would continue to work hard and move up. At that point I knew what my problem was, but for some reason I chose not to actually do anything about it. It was laziness, pure and simple.
I’ve had plenty of solid ideas over the past decade or so, and I’ve tried out quite a few of them. Almost every one of them has failed, however, due to a combination of poor execution and laziness. These two weaknesses worked in tandem to derail a project when A) I would set my sights way too high to start, and then B) not be willing to put in the day-in and day-out work necessary to achieve even the initial goals. And guess what? I got bored and/or discouraged, and soon quit. Just as the best athletes in the world achieve nothing if they’re sitting on the bench, the best ideas in the world go nowhere if you’re not right there in the game, pushing them forward.
And so we come to ItStartsWith.Us, the project that helped me learn (quite accidentally) this valuable lesson. I began this project because I had another Big Idea, one which I knew could literally change the world. But this time, instead of going all-out trying to implement this big idea instantly, I decided to change it up a bit, and start small. So I decided to begin with a simple blog. I began writing stories and sharing my ideas. Around the same time I started talking to people on Twitter.
And that’s it. Sharing people’s stories, throwing in my own ideas, and talking to people. Simple, right?
Well, as a result of that simplicity, almost six months have passed, and I still haven’t even begun work on the technical development of my Big Idea. Instead, I’ve connected with thousands of people on a personal level, exchanged ideas with hundreds of intelligent, enthusiastic individuals, and made dozens of true friends. With the help of all these people, we’ve established a group that goes out into the world each and every week to make a difference in their community, touching thousands of lives every month. And this is just the beginning. I’m still moving forward with my Big Idea, but now it’s bolstered by the support from all these amazing folks, and I’m confident that it will turn out even better than I planned.
And it’s all because I finally learned to set some goals, start small, stay consistent, and work hard.
But you already knew that, didn’t you?
- 5 Things You Shouldn’t Be Afraid Of
- A Note To New Readers
- 1000 Awesome Things: Neil Pasricha
- Surprised By Joy: My Introduction To The Service Industry (Part I)
- Connecting Others and Building Communities: Part of the ItStartsWith.Us Mission