The problem is…

The will to get good at it.  You know how it is, you figure out something you want to do or learn, a new passion, skill or hobby.  You get all excited about the endeavor, researching it, buying stuff for it, getting it all set up.  Then finally you get started doing it.  And it’s fun for the first few days, maybe even a few weeks.  You are proud you’ve stuck with it, because didn’t you read somewhere that it takes 3 weeks of repeated behavior to create a new habit?  Pretty soon, you start to take it for granted.  A distraction presents itself and you think “I’ll get back to that later, I need to take care of this now”  Before you know it, later becomes tomorrow becomes next week becomes a few months.  And the momentum you worked so hard at establishing is gone, not to be recalled.  Oh sure, you can work at it again, but the excitement isn’t really there, it’s been replaced by embarrassment and disappointment at letting it go in the first place.  So getting back to that groove takes even more effort, because now you’ve added some baggage to the journey.

You have to want to get good at it, not just try to get good at it.  The wanting will sustain you when the newness has worn off and the mundane has set in.  I’d forgotten that in this process of blogging, fortunately someone kindly reminded me.

One thing and one thing well

Every time I go out to LA, I indulge myself in an obsession I am fortunately not able to partake in here at home.  A few years back I discovered In n Out burgers and pretty much died and went to heaven.  Of course they are a calorie counters nightmare  but oh are they worth it.  I budget my daily intake (yeah right!) so I can indulge at least once before I head back east.  This trip was no exception and was squeezed in just minutes before I had to return the car to the rental lot at the airport.  Thankfully they chose to place a store right in the landing zone of LAX.

As I was waiting for my culinary indulgence to arrive, I thought about the philosophy of the chain and how it worked for them.  See, I love these so much I wrote to the company begging them to open an outlet in the midwest.  And I received a reply to the effect that they won’t be more than a days drive from their farms and suppliers in order to maintain the quality of their product.  The even more interesting thing is the menu.  They have 3 items on the menu besides sodas.  Burgers with or without cheese, fries and shakes.  That’s it.  No breakfast, no chicken, no wraps, no tacos-just burgers, fries and shakes.  They concentrate on doing basically one menu and doing it really, really well.  And from the line that is always to the door when I visit, it’s most definitely working for them.

Which got me to thinking about how thin I sometimes spread myself in my endeavors.  It’s easy to get distracted by a shiny new interest, especially if the old one is no longer exciting or is ending up being more challenging than anticipated.  But the key is to keep plugging away at the core of the activity or business and really work at doing it well.  Find ways to make it new and exciting once again. That’s where the success starts coming in droves.  And pretty soon, you have a line out the door waiting to use your service.

Seriously?

Turns out one of the guiding principles of my life wasn’t a genius idea I came up with but was identified early by the renown actor Peter Ustinov.  He said “It is our responsibilities, not ourselves, that we should take seriously“.  I’ve often been heard saying about myself and the work I did when I was selling television advertising time, “I take my job seriously, not myself.”  Beyond the obvious meaning of the words, I’ve never really thought about what that meant.  At it’s most basic interpretation, I think it meant that I took my clients and my company’s goals very seriously, with all associated diligence to their business.  At the same time, the impatience, anger and pressures that were directed at me during negotiations or budgeting weren’t taken personally.  I recognized these negatives were a result of things stressing the other person and were beyond my control.  I tried my best to help with whatever it was I could impact.

Now that I am self employed, I realize this truism is even more relevant.  I am working very hard, getting my business set up, managing every last detail, spending long hours in pursuit of work, putting myself out there as much as I can.  However this time I am the product.  So the line between taking the job and not the self seriously gets a little harder to draw.  Especially when I don’t get chosen to do the work.  Remembering that being invited again and again to audition for the job is a win.  If I wasn’t doing something right, I wouldn’t get the calls.  The jobs will come, just keep taking the work seriously.