in doing what you love


I’m kinda crazy.

For people who know me well, they understand that once I get on an idea, I tend to work like heck to make it work. It’s just a function of what I like to refer to us as fireflies in the jar. That sucker isn’t going to live forever. So I run around like mad to show him to as many folks as possible, before the light goes out.

What I’ve been picking up over the past few weeks, though, is this sense of how great it can be when you can connect the dots on an idea. Not just the beginning of it, but the middle and end too. How projects you started years ago start to pay off.

Something that work just can’t do for me, that my own ideas can, is provide me with sustenance. When I’m in the zone, I don’t get up. I can sit in the same spot for hours until I get done what I want to get done and it’s like clockwork.

The past year has been astounding in terms of the connections I’ve been able to make using the web, the sorts of folks I’ve been able to “meet” this way and how much it’s paid off in other ways.

I think a lot of us end up in a similar place in our mid-twenties and early 30s where we feel like we’re behind, where we’re not keeping up with our friends who are doing ‘x’ and start to feel like our abnormal existence are leaving us behind the curve.

Here are a few thoughts on that:

1. Just because your parents don’t it, doesn’t mean you’re wrong. We want them to be happy for us and even the most confident among us turn into little kids when you’re able to explain something to mom and dad and have them actually get it. But that’s not always possible. Keep trudging anyway, eventually it’ll either make sense and even if it doesn’t, they’re still proud of you. I’m obviously talking about living off the beaten path and pursuing what you’re passionate about, short of being illegal or harmful to yourself and those around you. :) Just saying…

2. Do it while it’s on your mind…. It’s almost a running joke that the minute you stop working on something that used to be important, someone else has taken a similar concept further than you thought possible. The answer here is knowing when to quit, but also understanding why you’re quitting when you do and having a landing path for the next thing you’re going to do. Because there’s nothing worse than doing nothing.

3. Adaptability isn’t the same as change Being adaptable isn’t the same as “always changing your mind.” The way you respond to new information is either to maintain your current posture or to make new decisions that reflect the reality the new circumstances. I think being adaptable is way better than standing pat, when the situation calls for it and knowing how to be that way can get you very far.

I think it’s astounding when you reach a point where you just throw off the gloves and say “enough” and seize control of the situation. The sort of momentum that drives you in the midst of that can really take you far. It’s just when you realize that you’re not as powerless as you believe yourself to be, is when you’re able to kick it up a notch.

  1. I can completely relate to getting in the zone with your work. That’s what happens to me when I’m in the writing zone. But office work with its many distractions keeps me out of the zone far too often. And with my day divided into slivers of time between meetings and conference calls, the writing suffers.

    BUT that’s all part of being adaptable, isn’t it? I like what both you and Michael say about adaptability. I sometimes prefer to think in terms of agility, too — being agile enough to move from one situation to another with minimal disruptions.

  2. Thanks everyone for the comments. It’s funny how the posts you don’t expect to resonate always seem to with folks.

    @ Christen I’m glad you get it…and that we’re on the same team.
    @ Howard, Keep fighting the good fight!
    @ Michael that’s extremely good advice. I’ll put that in my mental knapsack for safe keeping.

  3. Hey Ron, I’m a lot older than you are and I can tell you that it takes many people a long time to learn about what it is they really love and want to do. I never would have guessed that in 1990 I’d discover the Internet in a big way, then the Web, and end up doing what I’m doing now. The key, I think, is to continue to do what you love, as much as you can, to the point where you can recognize good opportunities when they come along. “Adaptability” sounds to me like having the self-awareness to know when to jump if you need to. Also, you need the self-confidence to stand up to the naysayers among your friends and family who want to impose their ideas of “success” on you. Look at Barack Obama, who until not too long ago was “just” a poorly paid community organizer. Guess he did OK….

  4. Really agree with your sentiments on doing nothing. This year I made the choice to “do it” and that’s made the world of difference for projects.

  5. For all of us producing content on the web, being adaptable is necessary to our survival. Sometimes though, I get so tired of adapting, I find myself waiting for the “next next” new thing.

    Or I feel like my idea will be someone elses idea next week so I don’t move on it.

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