It is often said that starting is the hardest part of beginning anything new. If you are like me, you don’t have a problem starting, but even though there might be legitimate reasons not to start, we must find a way to start! It is true that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a step. My personal definition of starting is simply one-foot step after the other and then the next and the next and……. you don’t have to see what is far ahead. You can also figure it out as go!
There are frameworks for starting, and they can be applied to a project, whether it is starting a business, a personal development program or even building a new house.
Before you start, it is also a good idea to have a clear vision of where you want to go, so that you can figure the right direction and decide on pace and the vehicles you will need to get there. As simple and as fundamental as this may sound, many of us come to terms that once we start, we discover the journey is a process, and it will eventually go from phase to phase
In Jon Acuff’s book, Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, and Do Work that Matters, he clearly states a pattern which is true and time tested. Looking at successful people, you can clearly notice the pattern. Being aware of the stages in ourselves we can apply the knowledge of the stages to decide actions to move us forward as we journey along. As black professionals, especially those of us who gladly chose to make Canada our home, we find ourselves going through the distinct stages on arrival for many different reasons. The goal is always to get through to the end and share our experiences to those coming behind.
These stages used to be tied to ages, but you can unequivocally say that these stages of the journey can happen at any age of your life. Let’s discuss the five stages that Jon Acuff highlights in his book.
The five stages
Learning – Literally, this is the place to start. Whatever you want to do, accomplish or create, you must start with learning. As kid or adult when you need to decide to start, consciously or unconsciously we begin to gather information that allows us to understand better what we are about to start. It is a time when we explore, and experiment trying out different approaches. You know you are getting to the end of learning when you begin to figure out what works and what doesn’t. And are more comfortable to make a step to the next stage. A good example will be wanting to become awesome at public speaking. Ideally, you will begin by researching types of speeches, try out the styles that work for you and maybe join a Toastmasters club.
Editing – In the editing stage, you are figuring out what works and dropping off what does not work. You also begin fine tuning what works so that you can get better at doing it. This process is akin to focusing on things you know truly fits your style. The result can be a significant rise in confidence and attitudes because at this stage you are probably are in your passion zone. Editing allows you to version yourself to the right product. Going back to the example of becoming an awesome public speaker, you are now beginning to know the type of speaker that you would probably become because it matches y our style. For example, you could be good pitcher
Mastering – At this stage, you are sure about what you are doing, and you are investing time and resources to make sure you become an expert at what we have decided to do. Continuing the example, this is where you work hard to be the best pitcher by practicing, practicing and practicing over time!
Harvesting – This is when you begin to reap the rewards of learning, editing, and mastering. It is mostly associated with working harder but getting high rewards. It’s just like working with the farmer to make sure you call your harvest bumper; you have to harvest all the crops! You can’t lay back now because you feel like you are the top of your game. You have to ride the wave and produce your best! Continuing the example, you probably have acquired the skill to become a high producing sales executive and making a boatload of cash pitch your best self to customers.
Guiding – To complete your awesome journey, you are now able to help others on their path to awesome. It’s always a good thing to recognize that you can help other people accelerate their learning, editing, and mastery by mentoring and coaching. Encouraging, helping and instructing people behind you on the path to awesome could be just what they need. No matter where you are on the journey, I encourage you to be intentional about supporting people as they grow.
Even though the stages look clearly defined, there are no clear-cut endings, the stages interwind and can apply to all ages. You can be forty like the example used above and your period of learning could be starting which means substantial learning. Depending on the editing and mastering stages you could be harvesting before you know it.
I encourage you to get a copy and Start by Jon Acuff; I have only highlighted snippets from the book. It is a must read.
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