August 8

If you knew you could not fail

If you're a writer and a researcher, you're used to thinking of how your project will fit within the limits that the world defines. You consider whether your book would be attractive to a publisher, whether your project would seem viable to a grant agency, or whether you could accomplish your research in a timely manner.

I want to push you, though, to consider what book you would write, what project you would pursue, or what research you would undertake, if you knew, knew you would succeed, regardless of time, money, or experience constraints.

You could change the world.

I truly believe that the written word and research changes the world, and thinking within limits only suffocates your potential.

If you exist to appease grant committees, publishers, and people higher up the totem pole than you, you will literally stifle your creativity, and nothing you write or research will change the world.

In fact, I remember my first year in graduate school, one of my professors quite literally said, “Grant committees and universities don't like “save-the-world” types because they're too unpredictable. It's best to fly under the radar and do safer research that doesn't upset people.”

I suppose if you only work on “safe” projects, you might get a decent job, write a few things here or there, and eke by in life. I don't know about you, but that's not good enough for me.

I want to change the world. Don't you?

St. Catherine of Siena said, “If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire.”

13-08-08 Matches

Starting steps

Begin with your ideal vision. In your deepest core, think through what you truly want to pursue.

Write it down in detail. Spend an hour writing down the project details. If it's a book, start with some central points, what audience the book would serve, and how the book would change the world if it hit the bestseller lists. If it's a research project, write down the ideal methodology (regardless of funding!), the population your research would serve, and how your ideas could rock the status quo.

Review your vision regularly. I have a vision typed out in Evernote, and I read it at least weekly. Seeing my aspirations written out, as if they are in process of becoming real, brings persistence and insistence to my work flow.

Start with a smaller, manageable project that lies within the same realm as your ideal vision. If your vision includes writing a book, perhaps start with an article in the same vein. If your vision includes a remarkably huge research project, start with a smaller chunk, perhaps a literature review or a small-scale study on that same topic.

Set a start and finish deadline for the smaller project. Tell someone else that you are working on it, to pressure you into following through.

As you are working on the smaller project, keep a running “vision notebook” for ideas for further projects that will move your further toward your vision.

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

How do you change the world?

One small project at a time.

What will your project be? Leave a comment below, inspire the rest of us toward world-changing.

Photo credit: Ade_Deployed, iStockPhoto


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