If I had one bit of advice to pass along, or mantra, or anchor that guides my actions, it might be this:
Do the thing.
Nike said it better with “Just do it.” Since that was taken and certainly trademarked, I’m going with “Do the thing.”
What is “the thing?”
It’s the thing you want to do but hold back from doing.
“The thing” has not always been the same thing for me.
Sometimes it’s an inkling, a yearning, a calling. That sense that there is something out there that can be explored or achieved. That must be explored or achieved.
It’s what led me to ditch my corporate job after more than 20 years and launch something on my own. Led somewhat by burnout and hellish fury and the sense that if I couldn’t rise it was time to bounce, I quit.
I had a lot to say about it, given all the links above. Writing is the thing I most need to do.
Did I find my way immediately? No, I did not!
What can you let go of that no longer serves you?
I did the thing. And in doing so, built a brand and a business that continues to stretch and challenge me. It hasn’t always been easy (if I’m being honest, it’s never really “easy,”) but I’m glad I did the thing.
Sometimes inspiration comes from seeing others do the thing.
You might think, I can do that too! Or… that sounds somewhat appealing – would I like that? Or you might find yourself green with envy because you realize they are doing the thing you want to do.
Envy is a great story driver. It’s one of those Unlikelies I speak about – the things we don’t like and assume are unlikely to help us but move the story along.
When I noticed many fellow speakers were releasing books, I wanted one of my own.
The problem… I had to write it. And every time I tried, I’d get tripped up by Squash, my evil inner narrator, who would tell me that I wasn’t a good enough writer or a disciplined enough person to complete and publish a book.
Never mind that some of the books I had seen released weren’t that good either. Some were pretty shitty actually. I lowered the stakes. “I can write a shitty book, too!” I convinced myself. I even thought of titling it, “This is My (First) Shitty Book” as if to distinguish it from the less-shitty books I’d write down the road.
But even a shitty book won’t write itself.
It wasn’t until I changed gears and decided to write about my inability to write the book because of Squash, that I finally Did the Thing.
“Fire Your Narrator! A Storyteller’s Guide to Getting Out of Your Head and Into Your Life” was the book I needed to write. For me, or for anyone else whose inner voice is often their own worst critic.
That wasn’t the only thing I did. I hired Book Launchers to help me navigate the self-publishing process and market my early efforts. This was no small expense. To Do the Thing I wanted to do, I had to pony up a monthly fee. But that got me in gear because I had no more time (nor money) to waste.
Investing in yourself and the assistance of others can help you get the thing done.
I did this again during the pandemic when I found myself in my pajamas with some extra time on my hands. I had always meant to earn my MBA but with full-time work and two young kids, who had the time?
So, I didn’t do that thing. And I’m glad I didn’t.
By the time I revisited the higher degree I had always desired, the area of study had shifted. I found myself drawn to a particular part of business – the ability to grow leadership skills and impact an organization’s culture as a result. I pulled the trigger at the 11th hour, tracking down my ancient college transcript (a year before records went digital), applied to, and enrolled in a master’s of Organizational Leadership program. Self-funded as I was, I took a full load of credits each semester and graduated 18 months later with a 4.0.
I did that thing!
Here’s the great thing about doing the thing. Once you’ve done it, you’ve done it. No one can take it away from you. It’s yours to own, to flaunt, to revel in.
What’s your thing?
What is it you are waiting to do? What are you holding back from? Why?
Are you not sure it’s worth it? Are you worried about the difficulty of the process? Or what others might think about your thing?
Are you waiting for some ideal time to start?
Are there too many “things” to choose from so that you don’t know which one to do?
I can’t answer these questions for you. You can.
I can only tell you that any time I followed my own advice to “Do the Thing,” I was never disappointed. That doesn’t mean to say that it always worked out as intended. But whether it was the final product or what I learned from the process, I’m glad to have done those things. You either get the “thing” you set out to earn (success!) or you get a great story (also success!)
Give yourself permission to just get started.
And if you don’t want to take my advice to Do the Thing, you can always take it from the billion-dollar brand, Nike.
Just do it.
Valerie Gordon, a former Emmy-winning television producer and the founder of The Storytelling Strategist, doesn’t always do the “thing.” Sometimes she lazes on the couch with coffee and her cats. Which, in itself, is a re-energizing thing. Follow her on LinkedIn or contact her for coaching or to facilitate a workshop for your organization!