Through my life I’ve been building and creating – and I’ve barely slowed down. Sure, at times it has been demanding, exhausting, and outright frustrating. But its also been incredibly rewarding and fulfilling to see what one person can create if he’s willing to put in the time and effort. When he’s willing to, through all obstacles, continue putting one foot in front of the other.
Nearly five years ago I started writing. Not necessarily writing for me. Writing for you. Five years ago I bought a domain, designed a pretty WordPress theme, and started writing about what I knew people wanted to read. Some of it I wanted to read myself, but a lot of it was to gain subscribers/followers/fans and build a platform for myself that allowed me to start my own company.
And It worked. If I hadn’t ever become a content creator – if I hadn’t ever put myself and my thoughts out there for the world, I know damn well I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Eventually, though, the song and dance of getting people to read, share, like, and follow you gets old. It gets old because you find yourself lost in a place that you never really wanted to be in. Writing becomes a chore – a means to an end toward a goal of gaining readers and making sales.
I eventually found myself contributing to the noise – instead of breaking through it. I’d spend 30 minutes writing and another hour editing, looking for the perfect picture to pair with the articulate, making sure there were easily sharable quotes so my 10,000 Twitter followers would share my wisdom with the world. It was so little about the actual writing and so much about the presentation. In short, it got old and I got bored.
Very few people have the will — the capacity — to show up and follow-through every single day.
What does it mean to be a leader? How does one lead effectively? These are questions I’m asking of myself these days — as I focus on growing my company, growing personally, and as I help others in growing their own ideas. Growth that isn’t about fame, recognition, or a huge paycheck, but rather — about purpose.
You lose sight of that purpose as you become allured by the quick fix — the easy way out — the blogs and consultants and coaches and books out there that define how to get the best results with minimal effort. The complacency of “reality” sets in, you lose focus of why you got started, and you take on the role of a wanderer as your search for answers.
24 hours after my latest (and fastest) marathon, I scribbled down some candid thoughts on how I was feeling:
WE ALL NEED A MARATHON. Deciding to run 26.2 miles takes a bold leap. But that arduous and overwhelming first step is what separates people who think, from people who try, people who act, people who believe, people who do.
That’s the thing about marathons (literally or metaphorically). They smack you in the face, kick you in the ass, make you feel like shit, but keep you coming back for more.
“Bourbon. Neat. With a side of ice.”
A few months ago a client of mine ordered this as we pulled ourselves up to the bar. More importantly, the conversation that followed gave me perspective in how I think about my business – and how I think about life.
When I lost my “normal nine-to-five” job almost 4 years ago, I quickly became an entrepreneur. Less because I wanted to actually run my own business and more because I didn’t want to continue to do work I hated. Work that didn’t get me excited. Work that I couldn’t pour absolutely everything into. Work that didn’t feel like work.
Then things picked up. And they picked up fast. I made a lot of money and and I’m still doing well, but it wasn’t until I sat down, sipped bourbon, and had a conversation about the ebb and flow of being a business owner that I stopped being motivated by fear and started being motivated by confidence and passion.
The biggest obstacle standing in our way is ourselves. You’re the one that will motivate yourself to start – and you’re the one who will convince yourself that you shouldn’t because it isn’t perfect. That something’s missing. That your idea stinks.
At the heart of every strong brand – of every important project – is a compelling idea and a defined purpose. And while that idea, that purpose, should never be forgotten, our ideas are designed to act like a beautiful, thriving garden.
I’ve been fighting with myself quite a bit lately. In one corner is the present. The idea of “living in the moment”. In the other is my ambition. My pursuit of big ideas. My wondering “what’s next?” My battle with complacency and fear of getting too comfortable.
It applies to literally everything. When I pick up a new client, I barely celebrate before wondering what the next opportunity to be. I come back for a run feeling great, only to be dis-satisfied a few minutes later, convincing myself that I could have run harder and faster.
Last week my friend and fellow writer Sarah Peck posted on Facebook an encounter she had at her local DMV. At the counter, she was asked what her occupation was, in as she describes it, “that dry, sterile, get-me-out-of-here voice that anyone who works a job they detest” uses.
For the first time, Sarah replied, “Writer”. With confidence, she owned her reply as not something to fear, but rather, something to be damn proud of. Something she earned. In her own words, Sarah said, “my soul felt alive”.
When someone asks, “What do you do?” – do you find yourself stumbling to answer? Not because you don’t know, but because you’re afraid to own it?
We’re afraid of owning the role(s) we’ve created for ourselves. The titles that have not been printed on a business card by an HR department, but rather, one’s we proclaim for ourself.
Dreams. We all have them. But we call them dreams not because they’re unattainable, but because we’re not willing to attain them. We’re not willing to give up something to get something else. We hold back from taking action.
And until you do – until you take your energy out of what you don’t want to be doing so you can put it in what you really want to be doing – what you should be doing, dreams will stay dreams and your reality will remain.
This article was originally written from 30,000 ft. in my notebook. Analog, baby!
World Domination Summit 2013 is in the books. Here I am on a plane, sitting, thinking, and reflecting. Reflecting on an absolute blur of a weekend. One full of inspiration, curiosity, laughs, tears, affirmation, and fulfillment. World Domination Summit has many definitions, but at its foundation it is simply a gathering of remarkable people doing remarkable things.
It’s easy to feel pretty unremarkable. It’s easy to give in to the conventional. Tess Vigeland, described during her presentation (which was absolutely one of the highlights of the weekend for me) the roller-coaster she experiences day to day – one that universally resonated with the nearly 3,000 hustlers and dreamers sitting in Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, including yours truly…
One day, you feel unstoppable. Like a total badass. Like you can do absolutely anything and nothing, nothing, will stand in your way. And yet the next day you convince yourself you’re a total fuck-up. That you’ve been kidding yourself all along. That you should pack it in and pack it up and just give up.