“I need this tool.”
“I really need to go on this course.”
“If only I had…”
These are things we might tell ourselves. They can be comforting, cushioning thoughts. For physical, hands-on activities it might well be true. But for knowledge work, for making change, I suggest that all we need is the following:
• Focus – to know our destination
• Brainstorming – to find the path
• Making a plan – to help us find our next step
• Ask questions/Google/for help – when we’re stuck
• Will – to take all the steps needed
Know what you believe in.
When times get hard, when threats or opportunities or temptations arise, know what you believe in.
Some beliefs are easy, trivial, commonplace. Others are more controversial or nuanced, unique to yourself, your family, your organisation.
Evaluate your beliefs, record them. Return to them frequently because when the situation is stressful or diverting it’s all too easy to forget what you believe in. And that’s when your beliefs are most important.
Yesterday, I went for a run through an unfamiliar area. Pretty soon I was lost but I was happy. I knew I had to get back and I knew I was very unlikely to simply turn around and retrace my steps. And I was cool with it.
Then, suddenly, I recognised where I was and I was hit with a sudden feeling of dread as I realised that I was around 2 miles from home.
It dawned on me that a) this made little sense and b) this happened to me a lot. I could be fully aware of, and happy with, a set of risks. But then one of those risks would materialise and boom! I’d experience fear.
Fear is a little like arsenic: it’s natural, ancient, potentially toxic and only occasionally useful. Humans are built to experience fear, to run away, resist change, stay put and hide under the duvet.
On the other hand, fear is good. Fear means we’re evolving. It means we’re pushing forward. Fear means we’re reaching for our awesome.
This blog is all about taking gentle steps but if we’re not ever scared perhaps the steps are too gentle?
Incrementing to Awesome is about taking gentle steps towards a better place. There are three parts to this equation.
Firstly, there’s ‘Incrementing’, the practise of making consistent, tiny, mostly-safe changes. It’s the spirit of Kaizen mixed with the Art of the Possible.
Next, comes ‘Awesome’: the destination of your incrementing journey, whether or not you intend or desire to reach it.
But the most important word, so fundamental it’s not even mentioned?
(If you’re thinking ‘honesty’ here I’m glad the subtle clue worked)
The answer is honesty. (Surprise!)
What do gentle steps look like to you?
What costs are you prepared to pay to take this journey?
Who are you willing to become to become the person you want to be?
Whatever stage of your journey you’re on it’s worth considering these questions, maybe even recording the answers. Our future selves don’t always remember what our past selves intended.
I know I didn’t consider these things early enough and it nearly knocked me off my path.
Hopefully, with a bit of honesty that won’t happen to me again, or anyone else.
“And you, you are not me. The lengths that I will go to.” — REM, Losing My Religion
The person you think you need to be, to become the person you want to be? Is that person still you?
All change has a cost.
The new you, the target you. Are they happy? The sacrifices they made to become who they are, were they worth it?
When they look back will they thank you?