Start where you are use what you’ve got
This is the quote I’ve had in my head and repeated to myself many time, until today I had no idea where it came from. It turns out the quote comes from a guy named Arthur Ashe and the version I had heard was somewhat butchered. The original quote Was actually:
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do you what you can”
Arthur also seems to have had a plethora of other good quotes that I haven’t heard before, including:
“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome”
“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to pass all of us at whatever cost, put the urge to serve others at whatever cost”
Arthur was an American professional tennis player who in his career 3 Grand Slam titles, this isn’t a history lesson but interesting trivia all the same.
Standing at the foot of large mountains
The utility of the start where you are quote for me has always been to break down what seems like a dauntingly massive task. It’s easy to look at gigantic a far reaching goals and know exactly where you want to be but extremely difficult to see those first few tiny tasks on the path through to completion.
For some unknown reason I’ve only recently got round to reading the four hour work week by Tim Ferris. Despite having heard it mentioned on 1000 podcasts and cited as inspiration for 100 of the books I’ve read I’ve never actually got round to buying a copy and sitting down with it.
In this book, as I’m sure you’re aware, Tim talks about breaking down tasks into the smallest possible actionable units. This works in much the same way.
By breaking tasks down into tiny actions we can move along the path. We can take action towards our goal. The trouble with these tiny actions and the reason is that so hard to do in the real world is it they provide us none of the satisfaction that sitting and thinking about achieving Our lofty goals does. It’s much more satisfying to sit on the sofa and think about summiting the Mountain than to start the painful process of stepping forward.
Push your stone
Every time I set my mind to Achieving something important to me I find that my brain wants to achieve the goal and a single sprint. A Single set of actions that I can start right now with a linear path to the finish line. In reality though, nothing important is Achieved this way.
The way to achieve the truly life changing stuff, the kind of stuff that sets you apart from other people and puts you in the small percentage that are willing to take the sacrifice necessary to make real change you must treat your goal like a heavy stone. If you had to move the heavy stone down A long path you would never consider trying to do it on a single sprint. For some reason millions of years of evolution has allowed us to see physical tasks like this much more clearly than conceptual goals.
Consistency is king
On the journey of shifting that stone you’d break for lunch, take a nap, maybe even take a few days off and come back to it. You take the time between pushes to consider the best route forward and ways to make it roll easier without beating yourself up for procrastination. If each time you return you can move it a few inches forward over a weeks months or years it will get where it needs to go.
Actions yield results
This approach separates the successful from those who only dream and is the reason why the first steps are so critical.
Want to be a rockstar? Learn a chord.
Want to be an artist? Paint a canvas.
Want to be an blogger? Write a post.
And another the next day. And another the next day. And another the next day. Now, How can you make it better? Read a book written by master. Now another and another and another. Stop and think, how can you reach more people? Who do you know that may be able to help? Another, another, another.
Repeat. repeat. repeat.
This is the truth of how empires are built, all great art is created and of how empires are built.
The fact that it’s difficult and unglamorous And can take many years or decades is exactly why great success Is rare. The process will be exhausting and painful and you will see no success for just long enough to make 99% of people quit.
It’s an old but accurate cliche that it’s very hard to beat a man who won’t give up.
Ultimately we all choose our results, we choose the pain of decades of toil after something we love or we choose the easy life now and questions of what would’ve been later.