1. Start with desire. You find/think of something you want. You don't need a lot of passion, you only need sufficient desire to get started. ("I really want to start a restaurant, but I haven't a clue if I will ever be able to open one.")
2. Take a smart step as quickly as you can toward your goal. What's a smart step? It's one where you act quickly with the means at hand. What you know, who you know, and anything else that's available. ("I know a great chef, and if I beg all my family and friends to back me, I might have enough money to open a place.") You make sure that step is never going to cost more than it would be acceptable to you to lose should things not work out. And you bring others along to acquire more resources, spread the risk and confirm the quality of your idea.
3. Reflect and build on what you have learned from taking that step. You need to do that because every time you act, reality changes. Sometimes the step you take gets you nearer to what you want ("I should be able to afford something just outside of downtown"); sometimes what you want changes ("It looks likes there are an awful lot of Italian restaurants nearby. We are going to have to rethink our menu.") If you pay attention, you always learn something. So after you act, ask: Did those actions get you closer to your goal? ("Yes. It looks like I will be able to open a restaurant.") Do you need additional resources to draw even closer? ("Yes. I'll need to find another chef. The one I know can only do Italian.") Do you still want to obtain your objective? ("Yes.")
Act. Learn. Build. Repeat. This is how successful serial entrepreneurs conquer uncertainty. What works for them will work for all of us.
Sometimes I find that when I'm stuck or I'm working with people who are stuck, what keeps us in the same place is that we're asking ourselves the wrong question. We don't realize we are asking this question, but we are. This is the question we're stuck in:
What's wrong with me?
This post by Andrea Sher about her struggle with infertility reminded me of how often we can get stuck in this question for any part of our life that doesn't seem to be moving the way we want it to. This can keep us in a victim place that prevents us from really finding a way out. This is how Andrea describes the experience:
I had a session with my life coach. And she said, “Okay. So there’s a lot of self-pity here. What about the anger? Where’s that? Aren’t you pissed off and frustrated? Where’s the ‘why-the-f***-hasn’t-it-happened-by-now?’ Aren’t you mad at God or your body or somebody?!”
And that’s when I got it. As I stepped into the anger (okay, rage) I felt my strength, my fierceness, my aliveness in addition to my longing. I also saw how little power there was in the self-pity. The victim place is just that– totally helpless and impotent. And I had been there a long time. As we explored the anger, I found my feet firmly planted on the ground. I practiced role playing with her. We pretended people were asking me how it was going, and instead of my usual “It’s so hard…” and crying almost immediately, I practiced saying, “It f***ing sucks!!! We’re f***ing frustrated!!!”
Andrea is talking about infertility, but honestly, this conversation with ourselves can happen for any part of our lives, including our work. We have to stop asking "what's wrong with me?" and start asking some different questions.
Andrea suggests two that I think can be helpful:
How can I help myself?
Where can I get support?
Questions that have helped me in this situation are:
What can I learn from where I am now?
Where's the energy in my life right now and how can I follow that?
What do I want more of and how can I get it?
It changes your sense of the issues when you recognize that underneath all the "stuckness" is the question "What's wrong with me?" Seeing that question and how it disempowers you, then finding new questions that give you strength and courage can make a huge difference.
Try it. I promise that it works.