The title above is a quote from John Updike and I’ve never known it to be more true. I’ve spent the last few months researching and writing my second book and have found the process to be challenging. Writing a book is never easy so I didn’t expect it to be a walk in the park, but I did expect it to move with more speed than it has. After all, I’ve been speaking and consulting on this topic for years. But pangs of self-doubt have been creeping in. What if I’m not saying anything truly new? What if I don’t bring the material to life? What if it’s not compelling? These fears have been paralyzing me – causing me to hang on sentences and paragraphs far too long in an effort to make them perfect. I felt my creativity at an all time low this week and sought out colleagues for advice. In a nutshell, they all said the same thing – If you want to succeed at this, you’ve got to loosen your grip; you’ve got to give yourself room to fail.
The precursors to success are always mistakes, missteps, & bad ideas. They’re the only way into the game. As the expression goes – you’ve got to figure out what doesn’t work before you figure out what does. For some reason though, no matter how many times we learn this lesson, it’s easy to forget. We just want to nail it on the first try. But meaningful accomplishments never work that way. If it were that easy, it wouldn’t be that worthwhile. If we want to succeed, we’ve got to go through the process. We’ve got to fail more. And then we’ve got to keep moving. Eventually we’ll reach the right place.
Build your muscles for momentum (like the shoemaker’s own shoes, I’ve taken my eye off of this one)
- Set multi-layered goals – day, week, month, & total project.
- Make the goals results-based, not activity-based – i.e. here’s what I’ll have completed, not here’s what I’ll do.
- Finish each goal even if you feel quality is not 100%. With enough small goals you’ll have opportunities to improve along the way.
- Share the goals with someone else who can help hold you accountable.
- If you miss a goal, don’t worry about it. Just keep moving.
Doug Sundheim is an organizational consultant and coach based in NYC –http://www.clarityconsulting.com