Friday, February 1, 2013

Start, Use, Do

There's a phrase that I was introduced to last year; it was a graphic that Larry Winget posted on his Facebook wall, and hence, I saw it in my news feed. It's a simple thought, really, but it's really profound, too. The phrase is as follows:

Too often, I think we get caught up in the fear and uncertainty of any project we want to do. We often begin with enthusiasm, but also, when the magnitude of what we want to accomplish sets in, we start to make excuses. I don't have time. My resources aren't any good. I don't have the money. I'm not accomplished enough. So many others can do it better than me... and on, and on, and on.

New Years' resolutions often fail for this very reason. We set some point in time and say "this year it will be different"... until we see just what we have set ourselves up for, and lament we ever started the process.

We all do this, at some point or another. My fears aren't your fears, though it's possible we may share several. I procrastinate, I'm flighty, I have a short attention span. I get irritated when things don't work the way they should. Other may have other issues to deal with that would prevent them from excelling in whatever they think they want to do. My point is, we need to stop making excuses, and stop waiting for the perfect time to do something.

Today is as good a day as any to do something. Start there. You may not have the right tools at the moment. OK, what can you use? If you don't have access to a computer grab a book and a sheet of paper and take notes. Use that. You don't know more than the basics? Fine, start with the basics. Practice them until they are automatic, then try something more advanced. Do that. Repeat the process. Keep going. Refine and improve the tools when you can. Buy new ones if they will be of a benefit. Learn more and apply more. Just keep going.

I use all sorts of gimmicks, tricks, and traits about my personality to get around a lot of these things. One thing about me, I love an audience. I do. It's why I did a stint as a model in my teens. It's why I was a musician for a decade. It's part of the reason why I've been a Scout leader and a competitive snowboarder. I like to do things where people see them and take notice. thus, to borrow from George Carlin's classic album title, I believe in the "Occupation: Foole" approach to things. I'm willing to publicly skewer myself. I'm willing to admit where I do cool things, as well as where I do stupid things. In short, the fact that I like having an audience is an intense motivator for me, and so, if I want to accomplish something, I make absolutely sure that I have an audience.

Example: this whole PRACTICUM series I've started with the Selenium 2 Testing Tools Book. When did I Start it? A few days ago. What can I use? A mac, an e-book and a blog, plus a promise to update it every single day. Even if I only get through one exercise on a given day, it goes up, with my comments and opinions. What can I do? I can work through it at the pace it will take me. The leverage? I do it all publicly, because I want to share what I find, I want to see where things differ so that, perhaps, David and Packt publishing might work them into a future edition, but mostly, I want to have the world hold my feet to the fire. For some reason, those of you in the UK, India, Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Canada, Brazil, the U.S. and elsewhere make me a lot more accountable, because I KNOW YOU'RE WATCHING!!!

My approach may not work for you, for a variety of reasons, but give yourself permission to do what you want to do. Give yourself permission to suck at first. Give yourself permission to not have the latest and greatest tool. Give yourself permission to admit your ignorance. Once you've done that, though, then START, USE, and DO!

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