“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been. The one constant in our lives is change.” Daniel Gilbert
If someone would have asked me two years ago how many upcoming changes I expected, I would have answered that two years is too short for any major changes to happen. I would have answered that life would most likely follow a similar rhythm. Yes, some new work related challenges would be inevitable. And some new problems in the ever changing parent metaverse, for sure. New books read, new people met, new places explored. But would I change? Not much, I would have answered. Two years is too short for any major changes to happen.
What I didn't know then was that there was one small idea that started to shape in my head, and that would change me as well.
It was a fragile idea about writing on a blog about how we can become more driven and inspired to act, grow and make a difference around us. I had been devouring content about human behavior, psychology and leadership for years, and I thought it was a good idea to share with others those tools that helped me grow, overcome challenges and become a better person. I felt that I had something more to give, but I wasn’t sure how to express it. I needed a framework where I could explore and make sense of what I read and experienced in the different areas of life, first to help myself and second, to inspire others to become more self aware, find their element and feel more fulfilled. At the time, it was not clear what this framework would be, but I knew writing would help me figure out.
When the idea of sparking drive started to take shape in March 2021, I was in a place of exhaustion, at the end of a long learning journey. I had finished an intensive leadership training that took two years instead of one because a small pandemic turned the world upside down. And I had just finished the training program in change strategy with Andrei Rosca, that would help me become a better manager, leader and mentor, guiding others in their change and growth journey. The COVID pandemic seemed to make everything harder and more exhausting, but it also created a much needed space for reflection and self discovery. It made me stop and ask difficult questions about what mattered to me and how I imagined to live a more meaningful life.
The paradox of March 2021 was that it made me feel both exhausted and empowered. I was at the end of a journey and ready to start a new one.
It All Starts with a Fragile Idea...
My idea was fragile and I could not see where it would take me or how it would develop. There were only three things I knew with certainty: 1. I wanted to write; 2. I wanted to make sense of my life experiences and inspire others to do the same; 3. I wanted to explore what makes a fulfilled life, how we can build our own path to success and not just follow the path that others laid in front of us. There were skills I already had and others that I needed to learn, but I was confident I could start something that would crystalize with time. There was no pressure. It was a side gig. A hobby.
The beauty of side gigs and personal projects is that they are like a playground, inviting you to experiment with new ideas and tools, until one day when you start connecting the dots and realize that you’re already using some of the new skills in other areas of your life. And isn't it funny how, when they’re finished, and especially when they’re successful, projects seem so logical in hindsight? It seems to the outsider that everything was meant to be, that each element was well planned to be there, that each idea was designed into a perfect plan.
I was listening yesterday (for the third time) to an episode of Andrei Rosca’s podcast, where he was talking about the fragility of ideas. When we look from the outside, we believe that the creator, the entrepreneur, the scientist started the (now) successful project, when the idea was 97% ready. But most successful projects started when the idea was 50% ready. The only difference is that some people have faith and a trained courage muscle that help them start.
There are so many amazing ideas out there that will never see daylight, because people think they’re not ready. But sometimes, 50% ready is a good place to start.
What I envisioned two years ago was that writing on the blog would deepen my knowledge and insights about leadership, human motivation and life fulfillment, so I could use my experience in leadership and change strategy to guide other people in their change journey. I saw it as an exercise of skill building, personal growth and contribution outside myself. Not more than a side gig that would help me grow and learn. But with every topic I was diving into, I discovered new things about myself, about other people and about the world. Having more conversations with people around those topics made me realize that I had so many blind spots and I was assuming too much. I always had a deep appreciation for the uniqueness of people, but I am now able to engage in conversations at a new level.
What started as a side gig, eventually helped me become a wiser person, connecting the dots and focusing my energy in a more effective way.
In my first newsletter, I was writing about one of my favorite children books, “What do you do with an idea”, by Kobi Yamada. It’s a touching story about a little boy who finds out that he has an idea that stuck with him and follows him everywhere. At first, he ignores it, but then he starts paying attention and takes care of it. As the idea grows and becomes bigger and stronger, it brings more color into the boy’s life and one day, something amazing happens. The idea gets wings and emerges like a butterfly from its cocoon, to spread everywhere in the world. It's a beautiful metaphor that reminds us that each of us have one of those ideas inside ourselves and all we need to do, is pay attention and take care of it so it can grow and spread its wings.
We all have ideas waiting to be discovered and nurtured, that have the power to help us evolve and transform. We just need to pay attention and give them the time they need to happen and grow.
...and Tons of Self-doubt
The moment when an idea starts taking shape and the possibility of turning into a new project is a step away, we feel all the feelings of self-doubt. There are so many unknowns, so much uncertainty. Our inner critic will be delighted at the opportunity to express its true colors. In my case, the conversation with my inner critic was around my writing abilities, my lack of time, my strategy of selecting the topics I would focus on, the fact that nobody would be interested in what I had to say.
At first, I could mainly hear a monolog of my inner critic. I just listened and wrote down everything. I constantly wrote down. All the doubts, all the limitations, all the thoughts flying around in my head like leaves in a storm. After a while, the inner critic lowered its voice and calmed down a bit. It had exhausted all the topics. That was the moment when I started to re-arrange the pieces of the puzzle and see what I could tackle first. Writing abilities and structure: I can learn some tips from Cristina. Making a new website and newsletter: why not contacting a WIX freelancer? Selecting the topics I would write about: make an editorial calendar and tackle on topic at a time. And so it went. In the end, there were probably a few things I still didn’t know how to do, and I just accepted that I would learn those later.
One strategy I used in order to keep my discipline and motivation to write, was to write about what made me thick, and not writing for an audience. My hope was that by doing that, I would find the energy to sustain the effort, as it would first of all help me grow and change for the better. And in that process, I hope to find a few people who resonated with those ideas and engaged in meaningful conversations. My instinct was right. I don’t think I could easily find the drive and sustained motivation to write on a blog, if I didn’t write about those things that matter to me, that are aligned with my purpose and mission.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by doubt at the beginning of any project. Any innovation and creative endeavor needs that. If we would be 100% certain that everything would turn out exactly as planned, there’s no innovation and creativity in that project. It means that it was done before. If we want to create something beautiful and new, even if it’s just new for us, we must be ready to embrace that uncertainty and learn how to be friends with it.
“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take”. Joseph Campbell