I started a new opportunity last Wednesday. Sort-of a freelancer gig working on building out a website with a small team of three or so people. I imagine I will have a lot of different jobs throughout this process which means I’ll get good at many different things. My goal is to digest some of my progress into simple lessons along the way.
I’m able to continue my lifestyle working from home. Something I’ve been doing a variation of since I used poker as a job during the middle years of college. Starting new things always leads to accelerated growth. Exposure to new expectations and a new way of understanding solutions. An expansion of your comfort zone that flexes your abilities.
I love being able to expand upon the things I have been learning recently, with guidance from a person who has had success and is able to pass down his understanding. This is a way to take the multitude of things I have been doing and focus them into a process with measurable outcomes.
It can be unsettling to start new projects for the first time. The time when you don’t know what you don’t know. I’m progressing quickly in my understanding. These are the first five things I’ve learned working for Jon.
1) Focus is Key. It can be easy to get bogged down with lots of ideas. Sometimes jumping from project to project is the best way to learn a wide range of necessary skills that serve to propel you forward. Multiple projects give you understanding and allow you to go through the process of becoming good at learning and acquiring new skills. But eventually it’s time to put those skills to use.
Know your direction and the steps to get there. Focus on the next things you need to accomplish that will move you along the path towards your goal. Do it consistently and do it better than anyone else. Be willing to improve upon your process and don’t accept anything that doesn’t live up to your standards.
2) Do the work that others won’t. I watched the movie Lucy last night. It carried a pretty powerful message about why we are all here, which is to pass along information. When Lucy had the power to do unlimited things she didn’t understand what to do. The professor, played by Morgan Freeman, suggested she do as all life does and pass down information for the benefit of successive generations.
The reason I bring up this movie is because it made me think about what we are all doing, a little differently. We reproduce and pass down, the expanded upon version of the experience and knowledge that was filtered by our existence.
Every time somebody does what others haven’t, it gets attention. It gets passed down. So when you run a 4 minute mile or add an extra inch of effort beyond what’s already out there, you get noticed. You pass down more information. That information organically spreads to reach more people.
The best way to stand out and bring lasting value that spreads organically is to go beyond what others are willing to do. It means looking at what’s already available for people to consume and finding a way to add that extra inch that most people don’t put the effort in to do. It could be extra hours practicing your craft, putting yourself in uncomfortable situations, like busting your camera out at uncomfortable situations, or supplementing a work with an additional extra touch that helps it to stand out from what came before it.
3) The little things matter. This can mean slowing yourself down enough to recognize the subtlety in your work. You won’t be able to do the work others aren’t willing to do if you can’t see what that work is. It takes noticing what’s out there and recognizing a way to improve upon it and make it better. This could be as simple as filtering the work through a different value system or extending it to include new layers of validity or an expert opinion.
Adding extra steps into your approach that will bring what you are trying to create to a place most don’t frequently go. Maybe it’s uncomfortable because it requires putting yourself out there in a way you’re not used to. It will probably involve learning something most people aren’t willing to spend the time to learn.
It certainly involves producing something that speaks to the person who’s consuming it and leaves them better off, than had they chosen to spend their resources of time or money on an alternative. Getting the little things down is what distinguishes the best from the rest.
4) It takes more than a plan. It’s great to have a plan. A plan serves as a direction forward, a focusing principle behind which you can align a movement. It can bring with it the confidence that comes from having clarity. But after you go beyond the necessary first steps of putting together your plan you must focus on execution.
Planning can become a comfort zone. Figuring out how to do something can be a way to delay the hard work of actually doing it. The amount of information we have at our fingertips to learn how to accomplish ANY goal we set out for can leave us running around in circles.
There can be a fine balance between learning and doing. I’ve seen many a people and myself, get stuck in the ‘acquire as much information as possible’ stage. Geeking out on that last bit of information we need before we can really get started. Delaying ourselves getting started on the creation because it’s a new comfort zone and we’re unsure of the feedback.
At some point you have to put the plan into action. Go face to face with the ideas you have and see if they hold up in the ‘real world.’ The ultimate test to your ability to influence the world around you.
For your dream to stop being a dream and become real, you must turn it into something others can feel.
5) I have more to learn. There is a big puzzle in front of me right now. I am only beginning to chip away at the initial pieces. Turning this vision into reality is going to push me to learn and test a multitude of skills. Skills which will require absorbing information, organizing actions and with proper allocation of my time and attention. I’m excited for how my writing will improve and how my understanding of the big picture will continue to become clear.
What did you learn at the beginning of your last big project?