Last night I watched “Knight and Day,” a mediocre movie starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. But there was a line in the movie that jumped out at me. Cameron Diaz was innocently running through her list of dreams, things she hoped to accomplish “someday” and Tom Cruise replied, “Someday is a dangerous word. It basically means never.”
Hmmm. That hit a nerve. And right away the old excuse maker, that little voice that always has a “reason” (you know…the dog ate my homework, I overslept, I wasn’t feeling up to par, the kids weren’t feeling well, I didn’t have time, it’s too much money) starting working overtime coming up with “reasons” why “someday” was a perfectly viable solution and didn’t necessarily mean never.
The whistle-blowing referee in my “but-it’s-HARD-to-be-productive” brain blew a sharp blast to get my attention, rolled her sleeves up and proceeded to remind me of the image that has stuck with me since last weekend. An image that I’ve wanted to share with you since.
Last weekend, my husband and I shucked the excuse maker and drove 2,010 miles round trip to attend CarbonCopyPROs Master Marketing Event #7 in Phoenix, Arizona. Trust me, we had plenty of “reasons” to stay home…my husband has been out of work for a number of weeks this year (and six months last year) post-surgery, I got fired on Friday the 13th of May, we just learned we owe the government a large chunk of money and the insurance company that approved the surgeon’s fees on my husband’s surgery, didn’t approve the surgical facility, so we have a monumental bill there, too…get the picture? A gazillion reasons why NOT to travel to Phoenix, Arizona, but we ignored them all because our desire to learn what we need to know to grow what we earn as marketers overcame the fear that our excuse maker could drum up. (Incidentally, the event was well worth it, and the next one will be in October in Las Vegas; let me know if you’re interested in attending.)
But that’s not the point of this post. Because getting off of our duffs and driving a day and half to spend a day in a seminar and drive a day and half back to Texas wasn’t the hard part. Overcoming the fear of spending money that we really don’t have to spend at this time…that was easy. Yup! You read that right. THAT WAS EASY COMPARED TO COMING HOME AND PUTTING WHAT WE LEARNED INTO ACTION.
Yes. Massive Action. That’s the hard part.
I learned what I need to do. I at least learned where I need to start, and let’s face it, you can’t feed steak to a baby, right? So what I need to do is show up and do what I need to do every single day, whether I feel like it or not, if I want to have the results that I CLAIM that I want to have. So what keeps me from doing it?
It’s too hard. How can I be expected to do something like that every single day? I didn’t have an entrepreneurial role model to follow, my parents were workers. My parents didn’t even work, they were on welfare. I’ve never held a job in my life. I don’t have an education. I am highly educated; you expect me to do THAT? That’s too repetitive! I had to do the laundry, go grocery shopping, mow the lawn, host the bridge club, make dinner, put the kids to bed. I understand that that’s what made YOU money, but I think it would work better THIS way. I tried it and nothing happened. My uncle (cousin, mother, brother, sister, husband, wife, friend, neighbor) said that that’s a scam. I don’t have enough time after work. There aren’t enough hours in the day. I’m too tired. And besides, I come from a dysfunctional family!
It’s a muscle, people. Doing something new is a muscle. At first, that muscle is weak; with use, it becomes stronger and before you know it, you’re flying high and hardly winded. Think about it, if someone can do it, anyone can do it, and that includes you.
I think what deters most of us from attempting to achieve what we want is that we look at the BIGGG picture and we give up before we start because we don’t see that a journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step. Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can or you can’t, either way you’re right.” In other words, if you think you can do it, you can do it! But if you don’t believe you’ll succeed, it’s highly unlikely that you will.
When I started college, the best bit of advice I got went something like this: When you have a big project to complete, don’t look at the whole thing. Break it down into chunks that you can manage and handle the whole thing a chunk at a time.
My husband and I used to “do” self-contained bicycle touring (that was B.C. – before children!) Our longest and best trip on bicycle was from Massachusetts to Texas, and trust me, we hit some mighty hills en route. I quickly learned that if I started out at the bottom of the hill focused at the top, I ran out of legs long before I reached the summit and would have to walk the hill, pushing my loaded bike. Not a lot of fun. On the other hand, if I chose a spot on the side of the road maybe 3 guard rails ahead and watched it until it was beside me, and then chose another spot to watch, in that way, I set small, achievable goals, and before I knew it, I had climbed that hill, fully loaded, and could enjoy the reward of riding down the other side!
Starting ANY endeavor is exactly the same. Whatever it takes, take it one step at a time. Do that one thing, over and over again, until it’s second nature, as easy and as natural as breathing. Then think about bringing on the next step, but not until then. And tell the excuse maker to take a hike.
And before you even begin to start with your “yeah, but”s or your “someday”s…let me tell you about a man I saw on my trip to Phoenix.
I believe we were in Arizona at this point, headed west and in the east bound lane, stopped under an overpass was a group of guys on bicycles. They were taking advantage of the shade the overpass offered to make some adjustments to their gear and drink some water. As we were driving past, I noticed that one of the cyclists was on what looked to be a recumbent – a bike that sits low to the ground and that allows the rider to recline. However, as we passed, I saw that this was a specially designed bike, to accommodate an incredible athlete. This cyclist had no legs and only one arm with which he “pedaled” and steered his bike. Obviously he was tremendously fit, as he was able to keep up with two-legged, two-armed companions. But he was so much more than that to me.
I don’t know anything about this man, but I know that CAN’T isn’t a part of his vocabulary. I like to think that his “Someday” is “NOW” and “EVERYDAY” and that his “Excuse Maker” is non-existent. When I saw him out there riding on the hot pavement with his buddies under the scorching sun of the Arizona desert under a cloudless sky on a 101 degree day, I looked at my husband and all I could say was “What’s my excuse?”
Today, when I want to slack off, when I want to fall back on “someday,” when I don’t feel like what I’m doing is making a difference, when I want to let the niggling doubts creep in – ’cause let’s face it, it’s easier to cave in to those doubts than it is to stand strong against them and flex that muscle and make it strong – so when I’m at that wobbling point, I think of that man on I-10 in Arizona and I realize that someday is a dangerous word and I have no excuses.