start somewhere

It’s easy to forget.

We look at someone at the top of their industry, top of their game, top of the pile, and we think, “Wow, they’ve got it going on. They’re so lucky/gifted/talented/connected”.

Forgetting that all their luck, gifts, talent, and connections are nothing without Work.

We behave as if success just happened to them with no effort on their part.

It’s a bit insulting, don’t you think?

Nice excuse for us not to try, though.

Because if Luck & Co. are the keys to success—instead of strategy, risk, and effort—then it’s not our fault when we’re not where we wanna be. We’re just unlucky and such.

We’ve no way to get ahead short of divine intervention. If things don’t go our way, ain’t nuthin’ we can do about it.

Piffle.

What about Work?

I know some of those people…the alleged Lucky-Gifted-Talented-Connected ones. And I know for certain they work hard, often, and a lot.

Blood-sweat-and-tears Work.

I-don’t-know-where-to-start Work.

Why-the-hell-did-I-say-I’d-do-this Work.

OMG-I-can’t-believe-I-finally-finished-it-woohoo! Work.

They make it look easy. And sometimes it is. After months or years of practice, it should be easy. After weeks or months of planning, it better look easy!

But believe me. Backstage there’s tears and frustration when plans go awry, doubts and frets that are inherent to risk. And a helluvalotta Work.

And yeah, luck and gifts and talents and connections.

They attract luck with effort. They know their gifts and talents, cultivate them, and wield them wisely and well. They call on friends they’ve supported for support.

Which is to say: they have a lot and they worked for all of it.

What we forget to remember is: They started at the beginning. Just like us.

***

Everyone starts at zero. Even LGTC folks.

They had a first day of school.

They had a first client, customer, or student.

They had a first blog post, a first Twitter follower, a first Facebook friend, a first newsletter subscriber.

And how they got 10…then 100…and then 1000…

How they earned $10…then $10,000…and then $100,000…

…tells the story of who they are, how well they work, and what they’re willing to do to get what they want.

***

And that’s a question worth asking. What did they do—as Seth Godin succinctly puts it—to add a zero?

What would you do? What would I?

Are we willing to try something new? Difficult? Easy?

Are we willing to be embarrassed? Hated? Idolized?

Are we willing to knock everyone socks off with unbridled awesomeness?

Are we willing to wait?

(or will we cheat and/or try shortcuts?)

Are we willing to do all they did in hope that we’ll get all they got?

And I don’t mean carbon-copying their model or buying into their blueprint-bootcamp-turnkey-system-program. I definitely do not mean that.

I mean starting with a chicken-scratch-on-a-napkin idea, planning and strategizing, risking time and money and effort, and stepping out into thin air with no chute, no net, and no clue what would happen next.

Yeah, that part.

Are you up for that? Am I?

***

When you get a minute, listen to The Police’s So Lonely [Spotify]. And then Roxanne. And then Sting’s Shape of My Heart.

When you get a minute, watch Harrison Ford in Apocalypse Now (it really won’t take but a minute, it’s a teeny tiny role), and then in Star Wars, and then in any of his blockbuster Clancy movies.

When you look at someone at the top of the industry/game/pile, take a minute to reflect on their timeline.

Because when we’re looking at the bigness of someone’s Now, it’s easy to forget about their small and fragile Back Then.

It was just like yours. Just like mine.

***

We all have to start somewhere, sometime.

I vote for here. And now.

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Wishing you good luck and loving labor,

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