So last week I began reading Start by Jon Acuff. I really enjoyed the early chapters of this book and I was excited to have a book help me to push myself towards doing a few projects that I have been dragging my feet on. However, between reading chapters 1 & 2 and starting to read chapters 3 & 4, average stroke back…
I got mad at myself for not getting to Chapter 3 fast enough and I got caught up in the idea of “How am I going to do all the things I want to do and do my school work AND work on my social life?” Lucky for me chapter 3 focused on combating the feelings surrounding the thoughts above. Which all center around the best weapon average has — Fear.
The best thing about chapter 3 isn’t the tips you get about combating fear. The best part about chapter 3 is the transparency of the author. It reminds me of the transparency of my pastor. When I was younger (through my early twenties), I was sooo worried about keeping up appearances and showing the world that everything was all right when it wasn’t. However the older I got the more I realized that the people I admired and respected the most were the people that shared not just about how great things are but the people that also shared the obstacles they have overcome. Jon Acuff in this book does the same thing. When he writes tips against fear, he’s not writing this from the perspective of, “look how great I am. I’ve written books, I write a popular and successful blog and I work from one of the most famous public speakers of our time.” He writes personal stories of how fear worked to keep him from writing the very book being read and others. Hearing the author talk about his internal struggles with fear helped me realize that what I was going through was ok (in the sense I wasn’t the only “idiot” that felt like they can’t do something because of fear).
If I could summarize chapter 3 into one or two sentences I would say; chapter 3 shares that no one can skip the stages of becoming an expert and moving from average to awesome. But you can take advantage of shortcuts to shorten the time you spend at each level.
I used to be ashamed of my hustle and of the many experiences I have had that have allowed me to shorten my time at various stages overtime. But this chapter encouraged me to not be ashamed of this part of myself. Especially when the author wrote this sentence:
Luck is a word people who are lazy use to describe people who are hustling.
Moving on, chapter 4 is the first chapter that explains the various stages that everyone must go through in detail. The first stage focuses around the power of time. As so many people have shared time is something you can never get back. This chapter quickly grabbed my attention because of the author’s trick around time and getting to awesome — working a little bit each day. Specifically, he says, “all we need is thirty.” For the past year and a half or so, I have really learned the value that working in small chucks has. As a PhD student, I used to feel guilty when I couldn’t work for eight to twelve hours a day reading and writing and taking notes. More recently though, I have interacted with so many successful academics who work around two concepts:
- Writing 20 minutes a day for sustained writing success.
- The power of the cold write i.e., writing down your thoughts without editing and without stopping.
For example, are you writing a paper? Set a goal of writing 20 minutes a day on it. This consistency will help keep the topic at the front of your head and make writing easier. But, if you can’t remember that citation or other detail that connects with your topic; that’s ok. Write something to serve as a placeholder and keep writing. You can always go back and search for it later. Because as Howard Becker stresses in Writing for Social Scientists you can’t edit what you haven’t written and even the best writers go through several drafts before getting to their masterpieces.
The last thing that I got from these chapters was, “why not work on the dream idea I have?” Without giving too much away because I think you should buy the book, I share this:
…That’s what happens to most people at the end of their lives what Bronnie Ware discovered in her patients. She’s a nurse in Australia who spent years caring for people in the last weeks of their lives. She wrote a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. The number-one regret? “ I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”…
So at the end of chapters 3 & 4, I found myself encouraged to continue to push past fear as well as reminded of the importance to live a life that is true to me and not people’s expectations of me.