There’s no “perfect” way. Just get started
If you browse around the Internet, you may have seen the phrase, “It’s never been easier.” The spirit of it is exciting, but the truth is a little more complex. For example, if you decided you wanted to write your first blog post, today: Would it be at Medium, Svbtle, Ghost, Wordpress.com, or with something else? Or should you try guest posting?
Not to mention other questions that follow — do you need a website for your “personal brand” first? What about setting up a mailing list, on Mailchimp or Revue?
It’s a challenge that author Eddie Huang considers one of the largest obstacles today’s generation faces, and describes as “an embarrassment of riches… people are paralyzed by opportunity.” It draws to mind psychologist Barry Schwartz’s theory that providing people with too much choice leads them to not decide — in his case specifically, they choose not to make a purchase.
Huang’s advice on this is simple. “You just gotta go, and you’ve got to do it. You’ve got to fail, and you’ve got to succeed. All of it. Because it all makes you who you are.”
It’s similar to an idea Bruce Lee writes in Striking Thoughts, “I can give you ten thousand of my ways, but they are my way, not yours. An individual’s questions are answerable only by the individual himself, and nothing would be gained by his sitting in on a recital of mine.”
It’s encouragement to operate in a difficult truth. A lot of people, before they even try to take action, become obsessed with finding the “right” way to get started. So they email around, spend time in webinars with “experts,” and read books on the topic, only to end up more confused than when they had started. Imagine if every person who wrote an email, “Hey, can I pick your brain?” decided to take 15 minutes and start on the thing they actually wanted to do.
Perhaps one example reflecting the principle Huang suggests would be a young Malcolm X in prison, writing letters and wishing he were a better writer. He decided he would make a change, but had no idea where to start. The task must have been overwhelming, and he had to start it on his own.
He finally decided to just start some kind of action, and he began copying the dictionary. He writes in his autobiography, with his co-author Alex Haley, “Between what I wrote in my tablet, and writing letters, during the rest of my time in prison I would guess I wrote a million words.”
It was only until after he learned to read, that he could know how to guide himself. He writes, “I read aimlessly, until I learned to read selectively, with a purpose.”
Film director James Cameron believes that no two people will ever take the exact same path to becoming a film director. “Whatever your talents are, whatever your strengths and weaknesses, you have to find the path that’s going to work for you.” He emphasized this to Syd Field for “Four Screenplays”:
“If you have to ask somebody how to be a film director, you’ll probably never do it. I say, probably. If that pisses you off, and then you go out and say, ‘I’m going to show that Jim Cameron; I am going to be a director,’ that gives you the kind of true grit you need to have in order to go through with it.”
The spirit of Cameron’s challenge is one that harnesses obsession with getting it right, to just getting it done instead. Bill Walsh says it best in his book, The Score Takes Care of Itself, “Success doesn’t care which road you take to get to its doorstep.”
He also writes, reflecting on his career, “Always, the same principle was present: There is no guarantee, no ultimate formula for success.”
The truth is, learning what pencil Stephen King writes with, or what type of racket Andre Agassi plays with, will not bring you any closer to their level of performance.
Once you adopt this mindset, you’ll realize the truth in the idea, that it really has never been easier. The options in tools and processes are endless, which means picking any one of them — even if it’s not the ideal one — will eventually get you to the place you want to go.