All successful project come in phases, and since human beings follow patterns, these phases are pretty universal. Everyone, at some phase, goes through obstacles, finds mentors, etc., so knowing the phases ahead of time can be extremely helpful.
A lot of this can be learned, so here is an impression of how they work. I hope this helps you get through a block of your own– it definitely has helped me.
1. The crazy idea
It occurs to you in a brief moment and you probably dismiss it– but somehow, it’s interesting and it sticks with you. It’s crazy but it doesn’t matter. You feel like it could be real. You could be utterly stupid but you can’t help yourself.
Seek out this stage if: You have no quest and/or little meaning.
How to do it: Get new stimulus. Meet new people. Travel and experience the world. Read furiously.
2. The refusal of the call
Yes, ok, you have this idea and it seems interesting, but who cares? You already have a good life. You’re already fed and clothed. You have friends and perhaps a spouse who loves you. You don’t really need anything big in your life. Who really changes the world, anyway? No one. And hey, nobody ever talks about the failures, but they happen, don’t they? Don’t mess with a good thing.
Seek out this stage if: If you haven’t passed this, you must. You need to progress through it deliberately.
How to do it: Rediscover things you have abandoned. Go back to your childhood. Find your archetype.
3. The private conversation
After perhaps days, weeks, or even months, the idea is sticking. You can’t help it and you’re thinking about it all the time– in the shower, during meetings, everywhere, damn it. So you make the call, and you get a meeting with an old friend who knows a thing or two.
During this time, this mentor hits you in the face with how crazy some of what you say is. But if you’re lucky, he also says something else: “This has promise.” You’ll probably screw it up, of course, but the truth is that this is all you really wanted to hear.
Seek out this stage if: You have accepted some craziness but aren’t sure if it’s even possible.
How to do it: Informational interviewing. Asking people who might have even a tiny chance of knowing.
4. Faking it
Maybe you’re at a party or with some friends, but really, this could happen anywhere. Someone asks you what you do, maybe, or you are just casually talking.
This is when it happens. You throw it out, and you’ve been practicing. “Oh, I’m working on this new thing. Here’s why it’s going to rock etc.”
The truth is, you’ve done no work and you have no idea if it’ll even fly. But you’ve just made it public. You’ve identified with it.
Congratulations. You’ve just chosen a side.
Seek out this stage if: You need the courage to move forward.
How to do it: Practice a short pitch. Don’t try to get everything in like an idiot. Make it conversational. “You know when X? Well right now I’m Y.” Do this with a quasi-friend, not a total friend, but not a stranger either. Maybe someone you haven’t seen in a while. Then, tell them to keep it quiet.
5. The transformation
As time goes on, you begin to identify with your crazy side more and more. Your identity becomes one with it. You adopt new ideas, meet new people, and find out just how much you didn’t know. You look stupid a few times, recover, and then look smart after googling for a while and meeting the right people.
You’ll notice after a time that you are changing. You’re no longer seen as what you once were. People are talking about it, maybe. You’re showing progress. It’s starting to seem real, and this is the point of no return. Beyond this, real failure is possible and very real.
Seek out this stage if: Usually this just happens. It’s slow and you suddenly realize you’re there. But seek it out if you see yourself deliberately stalling.
How to do it: Take a leap of faith. Make a big meeting where you talk ambitiously. Make a promise you can’t take back.
6. The trials
Success is like a road. You are constantly reaching new thresholds you need to learn to pass. This phase always happens and can often happen in sets of threes. You may need to hire an employee and you have no idea how to do it.
As you do this you are encountering constant challenge to your work, and because it isn’t real yet, so there is very little faith. That, by itself, is also a trial. This phase continues as long as it needs to.
Seek out this stage if: You need to grow and you are avoiding it.
How to do it: Seek out small decisions and make them, as often as you can. Notice bottlenecks and get through them. Ask yourself what would help you cross each threshold and act deliberately, even if an imperfect decision is made.
Part 2 incoming. :) Subscribe below to get it into your inbox!