It’s exciting to see the success and growth of an organization through the numbers: sales milestones, unique visitors, engagement statistics and more. It’s very practical and momentous to set metric goals that everyone can reach for and beat. But numbers cannot tell the whole story. And metrics can only inspire a team so far. It takes a portrait of the future painted zealously by leadership to truly inspire. Something greater to work towards. Something to believe in.
The best preachers don’t talk statistics or business. True vision cannot paint by numbers. There are no formulas or metrics for dreams. Speaking abstractly and passionately about a vision for the long-term future can open minds to the possibilities and help your team imagine their way out of the status quo.
Metrics and numbers keep an organization accountable to measurable improvements. Numbers have their place and should be respected. But they only serve to measure movements that already exist. Why not strive to make new movements and invent new metrics? A vision by numbers is not enough. The opportunities are boundless for your organization, but only if the vision you paint for your team allows them to be.
To antithesize yesterday’s post a bit, you must not be too quick to surrender failed projects. Give obstacles their due perspective and time before you put your hands up and walk away. If you’re stringing a project along because you’re no longer interested in it, then mark it a failure and leave it be. But if you’re stringing a project along because of obstacles you cannot overcome, take an extra minute to consider the whole thing. What will it take to overcome this problem? Can you do it alone? Do you care enough to inspire the resources of others to help you? If you do not care enough to try and inspire the world with your work, walk away. If you do care, don’t give up and figure it out.
Quitters give up because they don’t care enough. Do not be a quitter. Pick projects you believe in and believe in them until the deeds are done. The second you stop believing, you lose.
Dreams remain fantasies until you write them down. On paper, a dream transforms into a plan. With a plan, you can see it as you do your own to-do list. Others can see it as well and jump on board. Pitch your plan. Wear it on a t-shirt. Share it with everyone. After all, someone might want to help you. You may even start to believe that it’s more than just a dream.
Take your dream out of its fantasy box and put it in a place where it can become a reality. Keep calling it a dream and it will always stay that way.
The second you stop believing in the possibilities and start believing in the rules, you lose. You limit yourself to the things you’ve learned and make it that much more difficult to invent or imagine. Building an understanding of the world through education or otherwise is important to understanding the tools and canvases at your disposal. But growth and the human spirit should not end there. You must actually paint with the tools you’ve learned: break rules, make a mess and see what happens. Push the limits of the canvas. Or, better yet, ignore the boundaries of the canvas altogether. Invention has no boundaries and knows no rules. Sure, embrace the constraints of the tools themselves (budget, materials, people, etc.), for those limitations will focus your mission. Do not, however, embrace the rules of the game if they stand in your way to greatness and innovation.
Want to tackle a goal or change behavior? Start incorporating rules into your daily life. Set expectations for yourself and stick to those expectations. Create barriers that prevent you from breaking your own rules. And if it will help, enlist friends or family members to hold you accountable. In response to my concerns about information overload, I am not allowing myself to read news after I get home from work. I set up alerts to bug me if I do.
A year ago, I wanted to start writing again. I launched this blog and have had you, dear reader, holding me accountable to it ever since. I accomplished my original goal and more.
You can set rules for your diet, exercise, creativity or work. Treat rules like a game instead of a burden. Reward yourself with play, luxuries or a simple pat on the back. Make it fun and never forget that you’re doing it to make a positive difference in your own life.
I’ve always been a proponent of keeping many doors open. By staying involved in several things at once, you maintain a diverse portfolio of opportunities that may lead you somewhere. Drew Moxon dubbed this “angel investing with time” – balancing a handful of personal energy investments on activities and projects in hopes that at least one will pay off the entire batch. No thoughtful gambler places all eggs in a single basket, right?
The risk, of course, is that you do not invest in one area of your life enough for a big win. Jack of all trades, master of none. You fail to specialize, focus and pour your heart into one great thing. I think mastery can work if you believe irrefutably in what you’re doing. If you don’t, you must continue to explore options until you find the perfect fit. Until then, stay involved. Perhaps you shouldn’t stick every finger in a different pie, but at least taste every flavor you can and give each one a fair shot.
How many places can you sing aloud without fear or hesitation? The shower? Home alone? The car maybe? Where are you allowed to speak your mind, scream or share ideas? How many places can you truly be yourself?
Venues where you can let loose and be honest are rare and extremely important. Most environments are filled with people around whom you naturally curtail your speech and behavior to go with the flow. If nothing else, we keep quiet in consideration of others.
It is healthy – necessary, even – to control the podium on a regular basis. As much as we consume, we must create. And we must create honestly – from the heart and without censorship. To do that, nothing or no one can stand in our way. Some artists and public figures build the confidence to live honestly with little friction from the world around them. Most of us have no forum to build that confidence on our own. Nevertheless, we need that release. Audience or no audience, we must be honest with ourselves.
More than just a meditation space, we each need a cone of solitude where no one can stifle us, our voice or our ideas. Where we can express ourselves without constraint. I do my best thinking in the shower and best speaking in the car (in fact, I dictated most of my recent posts to my smartphone while driving to work).
Where can you be yourself? Where do you dream the loudest? How can you optimize that space to capture your voice – and sing louder?