You know that old saying “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” It happens to me all the time, though the teacher often takes the shape of seminars, blogs, books, personal setbacks and crises and other learning opportunities.
Maybe it works for you too. Maybe this post will help you get unstuck and back on track to pursuing your great work, directing less energy to routine tasks and more to fulfilling your potential. That’s the difference between good work and great work.
I was whacked in the head again with that message last weekend as I read Do More Great Work by Michael Bungay Stanier.
Michael, who was speaking at my book group this week, goes deeper than many other motivational writers. Sometimes he hits so close to home that I think he must be reading my mind. Endearing, yet a little creepy.
My friend Lee Weisser, pictured here interviewing Michael at the book group, gave me his previous book last year. Find Your Great Work helped me actually write, as opposed to talking about writing, my ebook Write like you talk—only better.
I understood that my book would address a deep and growing need. Think of how much easier work would be if you instantly grasped every email and other written word that crossed your desk. Think of how much more enjoyable life would be if writing became as much fun as talking.
Writing the book was the kind of peak experience Michael talks about. I knew I had found my great work.
My more practical business coach, Judi Hughes, calls the good work “money now” and the great work “money later.”
But the money is not rolling in, at least not enough that I can afford as much time as I’d like on great work.
I had hit a wall, what Michael refers to as getting stuck, for several reasons.
1. I had defined my great work too narrowly. In addition to writing the book, I must take my message to more peoople.
2. I was too busy with good work. As soon as I posted the book for sale on my site, lots of money-now work poured in, a welcome change in focus and influx of cash.
3. Shiny Object Syndrome, a chronic condition that compels me to chase my next dream before I’ve finished with the last one. This is why I can emphathize so easily with people who live in houses crowded with dry wall and copper pipes because they are better at starting than finishing projects. I must resist temptation.
4. Idea hoarding, which leads to analysis paralysis. I keep reading more blogs and books and listening to more seminars and talks and adding more items to the plan. I have to pick what to do next from my ridiculously long marketing plan.
Fortunately, Michael’s book gave me three simple things to do next. I must do:
1. what is easiest.
2. what will have the biggest impact.
3. what I will enjoy most.
What comes easiest for me is writing, so I’m writing this post and polishing and sending the guest posts I’ve started. Still more difficult than lying in the bath tub fantasizing about fame and fortune, like those Secret people advise.
What will have the most impact is dusting off those old media relations skills and diving into Adwords and other new, intimidating areas.
What I will enjoy the most, I know, is putting together a totally great presentation so I can evangelize. After all, this is a mission.
If you’re like me and are mysteriously drawn to what you need to learn, I hope those three steps will help you get back on track with your great work.
Let me know how you do. As Michael explained at the book group this week, pursuing your great work can be lonely and scary.
I’d love to onnect with other people who are trying to stay unstuck too.