About two years ago, I was in the zone.
Last week I published an article on Quartz about the three mindsets that can help you follow through on your goals.
From what I can tell from trolling the social media universe, the article did pretty well! I don’t have stats back from Quartz, but the post I found on LinkedIn had 4500 likes! Maybe that’s nothing in the world of the internet (I actually don’t know- this is all new to me), but it was exciting for me.
Then Twitter delivered me a cool opportunity and the inspiration for this blog. The NPR radio show “Word of Mouth” sent me a tweet saying they were interested in having me on their show. I called into their studio and talked with them about how the Olympics can be both inspiring and overwhelming for people who want to exercise more frequently. One of their most interesting questions was:
I have always wanted to be a writer. When I dreamed about my future in my early 20s, I wondered “could it be possible that I could write, like, for real?” And I did write. I’ve written 10 journal articles, a dozen or so white papers, hundreds of blogs and thousands of emails. But I haven’t ever been published for realz…. UNTIL TODAY!!!!!!!
This was an act of true bravery for me. It was very hard to put myself out there for a dream I really, really cared about. Trust me when I say this: If I can put it out there… SO CAN YOU!
I am NOT “Sporty.” I’ve never watched sports. I’ve never played sports. And until 3 years ago, I really never exercised. I just don’t have a competitive spirit. I am a (proud) NERD. A bonafide, read-while-walking, nerd.
But I wanted to pick up my daughter. When our story begins, she had a brand new baby brother and a mother with chronic back pain from two hard pregnancies and very little physical strength. While she was a sweet and kind big sister, it was very hard for her to hear that I could pick him up, but not her. Something had to change.
My husband had been a runner since the day we met and he convinced me that the shortest distance between me and a strong body capable of keeping up with two small kids was running. I agreed, but had NO idea where to begin. Looking into solutions, I learned that a Couch-to-5k was one common way. I downloaded the app for $2, bought some running shoes, and gave it a shot.
Last weekend I discussed how important it is to take a BREAK when you need one. The message definitely resonated with lots of you, but some of you very fairly pointed out that you can’t always take a break when you need it.
I get that, but I think you might be defining “a break” too narrowly.
Taking a break can go lots of different ways.
I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs who are working to grow their business, usually because they are aren’t getting the results that they want. When I ask them what they think they need to do to make move the needle, I get one very common answer:
This doesn’t add up. The vast and overwhelming majority of these women are already working their asses off. The already HAVE hustle and commitment and drive.
So why aren’t things changing for them?
In spring of 2015 I got an idea. I had been working on a book about using the methods of improvement science, design thinking and action research to help people power their personal improvement. When I shared the idea with my friends, family, and colleagues, they were enthusiastic. “I want to do that!” they said. The notion of people “doing it” as opposed to reading it caused me to wonder.
What if this was a business? I’d love to have more agency in my work. Wouldn’t it be nice to help people? I wonder… could I do that??
I wrote it off as a crazy impulse, but as Andrea Beaty writes in Rosie Revere Engineer, “Questions are tricky and some hold on tight.” This one would not leave me alone.
Context note: This post was written in the wake of some very sad and serious national news. The world has only gotten more sad and serious, meaning that the message is even more important.
You know the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words? There’s another saying from user-centered design that “a prototype is worth a thousand pictures.” A prototype is a draft. An effort. A model. A shot. I learn SO MUCH when I take even an ill-informed, super novice step in the direction of my dreams.
Again and again I find that when times are tough the best thing I can do is one small thing right now. There is no way to completely turn a tide right now (i.e., How can we move away from war and towards peace?). We can’t change a society right now (ie, How can we ensure that Black Lives Matter?). I don’t even know how to solve my own small problems right now (ie, How can I eat a diet of mostly whole foods?). What I can do right now, though, is something.
In honor of the 240th anniversary of the America’s Declaration of Independence from Britain, I too shall declare myself independent:
I no longer consent to be governed by the tyranny of the status quo!
The status quo is the common path, the “way things are;” it is an undercurrent of expectation urging us to do things the way things are done. No need to stray from the path, no need to rock the boat. Education is fine the way it is! A place for everything and everything in its place. It’s a powerful force whose only goal is maintain predictability.
But… don’t we want to change? We want to grow, create and originate and that’s not possible if you don’t begin to behave a little unpredictably. You can’t do everything the way you always have and expect different results. It just doesn’t work (it is not, however, insanity).
When I talk to entrepreneurs about making positive change in their businesses and lives, this is what I usually hear:
I need to stop being so negative all the time.
I’m just so lazy!
I’ve got to stop being so disorganized or I’ll never accomplish anything.
These people have screwed up their courage and are doing their best to face their problem head-on. I get it!