“When one has finished building one’s house, one suddenly realizes that in the process one has learned something that one really needed to know in the worst way – before one began.” — Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and critic
One of the reasons people don’t risk doing new things (that they really want to do) is because they never get past the conceptual stage. A close friend was stuck in this place regarding a novel he wanted to write. One day I asked him, “If you were going to start the book, what’s the first thing you’d do?” He said, “I don’t know.” I said, “Think harder.” He said, “Well I’d probably write a brief overview of the storyline. Is that a good place to start?” I said, “I have no idea, I’ve never written fiction. Do you know anyone who has?” He answered, “No.” “Could you find someone?” I asked. “I don’t know.” “Think harder.” “Well, I could talk to…” To make a long story short he took the ball and ran with this clarification process. It’s now 12 months later and he just finished his first draft.
You don’t get to know how to do something until you’ve done it. On one hand this is obvious. However, on the other hand it’s easy to forget. It’s easy to find yourself wishing new endeavors weren’t so difficult, confusing, or awkward. But they are. In fact, they’re unbearable at times. But that’s good. Some of the greatest moments in your life will come from not knowing what to do, feeling the sheer terror of your ignorance, and acting anyways.
1. To start something new, move beyond the conceptual idea in your head
2. Even if you have no idea what you’re doing, write out the 5-10 steps you’d take to move it forward.
3. Find someone with expertise and share your list.
4. Ask them rip it apart and set you straight (repeat this with others if possible).
5. Start screwing up (a.k.a – taking actions when you don’t know what you’re doing).
6. Eventually you’ll learn what will and won’t work.
7. Remember – ignorance is a great place to start, but a painful place to stay.
Question: How do YOU start before you know where to start?
Doug Sundheim • Executive Coach • New York, NY • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.clarityconsulting.com