In 1996 (a short TWENTY years ago), it was late at night, and I was sitting in the glow of my clunky, non-flat screen computer monitor. At that time, I was two years into my first Internet startup and building out web pages and applications for other online pioneers - it was all very exciting.
At that moment, I had an inspired idea... "Wow, I want to publish my thoughts, ideas, and stories on the Internet!" It was a simple idea, but it wasn't a passing one. It was the kind of idea that inspired me deeply and where I saw my future of who I could become, and it was awesome. I couldn't wait to get started!
It was the early days of the Internet, but many people were already publishing pages and communities were forming. Web audio broadcasting (and even some video) was possible. I had all the tech, even my own T1 line (much bandwidth, wow). There was no stopping me.
I was inspired by the movie “Pump up the Volume” with Christian Slater that was released a few years before. It told the story of an awkward high school kid expressing his free-spirited and transformational views over his own “pirate radio" station broadcasting from his parent's bedroom. While I no longer lived in my parent's home, I thought I could be that kind of person, make a statement, be heard, be known, and make an impact. I never thought of my views as being that controversial, but I knew for sure that I could be one of the first to broadcast on the Internet... and it would be epic.
Well, I would have been one of the first... I started the writing down my ideas but after about an hour that moment fizzled. No post was written, nothing recorded, nothing published. All that remained was a sinking feeling in my stomach and the regretful experience of giving up. However, I immediate wiped the experience clean with a simple, "I'll work on it more tomorrow."
Tomorrow came. Then, years passed. Soon came the rise of weblogs, podcasts, video sites, and social media empires. The level of content noise grew and grew until the idea of publishing anything online seemed to me like adding just another small drop in a huge ocean.
However, I still wanted to do it. I keep thinking about it, planning to get started "soon." Like a nightmarish TODO item, that you keep moving to "tomorrow" month after month, year after year.
At the same time, I saw young kids BORN in 1996 become mega content creators using the same technology that I had in my hands in its infancy. Seeing this unfold was at the same time really interesting and really saddening as I never followed through on my inspiration.
I set up Wordpress no less than 10 times to start publishing my own content. Each time, though, the motivation faded, I got distracted, and nothing got published.
As a tech savvy dude, putting up at least a tiny blog post should be pretty easy, right? So why didn't it happen?
Why it Didn't Happen
On the surface, I was crazy busy! I created a few companies, started a new family, and traveled the world doing epic adventure races and ultra marathons… plus all the ordinary life stuff that always comes up, you know... busy!
Well, maybe there was a little more to it...
All these other experiences have been great, and I am grateful for them, but while I can justify being busy, surely in 20 YEARS I have had plenty of time to be able to publish SOMETHING. I mean, seriously... this is something that I say is really important to me, right? To add to my frustration, I used my tech skills to launch a dozen of OTHER people's applications and content!
The truth is that for me sharing "personal" content out in the open here makes me REALLY uncomfortable.
Not in a sharp "I just stepped on a nail" kind of way, but in a more subtle and insidious way, "wow, I'm a little hot, maybe I should open a window... wait, or just step outside for a bit, or hmmm I think I should go sort my mail".
However, after so many years I noticed this same kind of discomfort show up in other areas of my life. The times when I pressed through it and took action anyway include some of my most precious and rewarding moments. I know the time had come to press through in this area too.
Finally, last week, I had enough. I made the commitment to publish my first blog post (this one). I decided to follow the 5 step strategy I used to complete several 250km 7-day ultra-marathons:
- Show up at the starting line.
- Start moving.
- Expect that when doing anything challenging, you will feel uncomfortable (probably really uncomfortable) while doing it at some point. Do not be surprised when this happens.
- When the uncomfortable feeling arrives (and thus want to quit), just notice it. You just feel bad right now, it's not forever.
- Keep moving - Finish the race.
Even as I began typing the first few words you are now reading; the same nagging emotions started to surface... The mild feeling of dread in my stomach, faster heart beat, the strong desire to do ANYTHING else, the feeling that by doing this I'm avoiding OTHER important things. I also started to notice these questions running through my head:
- Is what I’m posting valuable to someone else?
- Am I just trying to get people to like me?
- Is it dangerous letting people know details about my personal life?
- Will anyone read this?
- Does it even matter?
Just notice it. Just keep moving.
I’m not a natural self-promoter. I actually put a lot of effort into having people NOT see me as overly self important. So therefore, putting my thoughts and stories out there for you to read, judge, and comment on seems risky and I experience it as bad idea. Presenting myself as an "expert" just feels wrong in this moment to me. Not because I'm not an expert, and not because I don't have a ton of stuff to offer, but just because that's the way I feel at this moment.
However, in this case, I know it's part of my mission to create, share, and teach. It's been true for 20 YEARS, and it's true now.
What I Learned
The lessons I learned through this two decade ordeal are simple:
- If I am (or you are) are inspired create something, or to publish something for the world, just publish it... or broadcast it or Facebook Live it, whatever. The channels are endless. There's no one stopping you (really). It’s just YOU taking action out there, or not.
- 20 years goes by fast. You don’t notice it until you do and then you’ll probably say the something like… “Wow, 20 years goes by fast”
- The media changes, but we are still the same humans, with our human stories, thoughts, dreams, fears, aspirations. View the technology with passing interest, the human side is timeless.
- Commit to someone else publicly about the action you are going to do. When you tell someone else, it's now a LOT harder to hide out and avoid taking action that you say is important. For me, promising my accountability team I would take this action made a huge difference.
The next few sentences mark the end of a pretty important checkpoint for me. This blog post is now live. If you are reading this, then you are part of my personal journey and honestly, I appreciate you spending precious minutes from your life and allowing me to share this with you.
One last thing I got clear on today is WHO I'm publishing this for:
YOU - Yes, I am putting this out there because I know you have the same challenges I do. You have set things aside that really matter to you.
ME - I’m putting this out there for me. It's an important part of developing and expressing who I am.
MY CHILDREN - Finally, I'm also putting it out there for my two young children, so that each of them, when faced with their personal moment of "wow, I really want to [do something awesome]"...
...they notice their subsequent discomfort and resistance.
...and powerfully just keep moving.
Hmm, this makes me wonder…
What ideas and moments of inspiration have YOU had that are sitting on YOUR shelf right now? Which ones keep coming back, year after year but you never really let them see the light of day?
How long will it take for you to take that next step?
Please share your inspirations and any resistance around it with us in the comments below...