Monday, April 15, 2013

Start: Paring down and figuring out

Every Monday in April I will be writing a recap, review, or thoughts on the book Start by John Acuff. I'll cover about 2 chapters each week. I received an advanced copy of the book so I don't expect you to follow along (if you have one too, please join me!) but by April 22nd - in honor of my 31st birthday - you can have your very own copy. Pre-order it now and you'll also get $250 worth of other awesome goodies from Jon Acuff. All opinions are mine.
Start by Jon Acuff

We are already on post #3 in my series reviewing the book Start. If you haven't read posts 1 and 2, I invite you to head over there now. The two chapters we'll cover today are about Editing and Mastering. In order to be awesome, it's important to scale back on what is most important and then practice that until you've mastered it!

My mom has always told me how scary change is. I grew up thinking change was a terrifying thing. I fought it for a long time. I hated change, introspection, or doing things differently than I'm used to. I imagine I'm not alone in this fear. But in order to be awesome and enjoy what you are doing with your life, change is inevitable.
We tend to add complexities to our challenges because if the problem is simple to solve, then we have to change. And change is scary (105). 
If there is an area of your life that you want to change, identifying it is easy, but changing is harder.  Jon Acuff compares this concept to hoarding. The hoarders made popular thanks to TLC clutter their lives with stuff, but we often clutter our lives with unrealized dreams. "The hopes you refuse to edit and learn to master don't rot so tangibly - at least at first" (106). Years pass while dreams remain ignored and eventually you'll wonder, how did I get here?

I will be 31 next week. I often look back on the past 10 years of my life and wonder "how did I get here?" In a lot of ways I wonder this with explanation points, not question marks - How did I get here!!! At 21 I had no idea I'd get my masters degree, land a fantastic job, have a wonderful husband, and a beautiful and healthy son. I am literally living a lot of my dreams. At the same time, in a lot of ways, I know exactly how I got here. I worked hard, aimed high, and didn't give up. While this section of the book deals a lot with jobs and vocations, it can be applied to all areas of your life. I'm working the job I love but there are many areas of my life that are not what I'm dreaming of. I want to do the things that I love both at work and at home. Identifying what brings you the most joy is crucial in being awesome.

In a fantastic analogy, Jon Acuff compares the valuables in our lives with diamonds. Diamonds are more valuable than ordinary rocks because we've assigned value to them. Throughout the day, I assign value to different things - choosing to give my time to them. Sometimes it's brainless TV, facebook, or gossip. That's not smart and something I have complete control over. What might happen if I assigned the most time to the things that I found to have the most importance in my life?

  • I'd spend more quality time with my son and husband
  • I would spend more time at work helping people and building relationships
  • I'd stop watching trashy TV and start reading more books
  • I'd give up on relationships that are toxic and focus on the ones that are life-giving
In short, I'd be awesome. Well, I'd be the most awesome Leanne that I possible could be. I'd be assigning value to the things that are really most important to me. 
Want to find the rocks and diamonds in your life? Look at your calendar. Don't like what you find? Edit it. You own the calendar. (123)
One thing that can paralyze me in this phase is deciding what to focus on. My self-imposed to-do list is long. Master photography, read lots of books, exercise, cook meals, learn more about healthy living, etc. This is how I spend my free time and it can be exhausting. How do I know what the most important things are?
I think that's an awesome problem to have. There are too many things you enjoy in life. Boom! Congratulations. There is a danger with that, though, because people with too many passions tend to do something nobody ever says out loud. Out loud they say, "I have too many passions. I don't know which one to start on first." But what they really mean is, "I have too many passions. So I won't start on any."(129)
Deciding what you're most passionate, the things that bring you the most joy, is a challenge. But once you've found something you love to do, it's time to master being awesome. Mastering is scary to me. When I interviewed for my current job the title was "director." By the time I started, they'd changed the title to "specialist." I immediately pushed for a change. I felt incredibly inadequate - my nametag was off-putting. No one wants to listen to someone who refers to themselves as a specialist! It made me feel much more arrogant than I was. I am still mastering, there's no way that I could possibly be a specialist. Turns out, no one else had issues with it like I did. Thankfully, my title was changed again and now my nametag says coordinator. Much more fitting.

If you're dream is to write, write, get feedback, and talk to other writers. If you're dream is to be a business owner, learn from business owners. Shadow someone doing what you love. This process solves two issues - it helps you master your skill and it helps you decide whether your dream is really something that you want to do.
We're so desperate to be "the man" or "the woman" right away. We're so eager to chart our own course that we don't think we need to be led. We say, "...I've been called to this, and nobody in the history of mankind has ever done it like this! Who could possibly give me advice? Being an apprentice would be failure. This is my time!"
If you don't want to spend the time learning from others, prepare to fail. If you don't want to spend the time practicing because you just don't enjoy it that much, celebrate and move on to something you love even more! Learning from others and spending time mastering is your key to even more awesome. But it's also a magnet for criticism.

Learning about critics math from Jon Acuff is worth the price of the book. I cannot do it justice so I'll give you a teaser.

1 insult + 1,000 compliments = 1 insult

That's right. Worth the price of admission. If you deal with criticism or you plan to, go buy the book. If you want to be awesome, you'll need to deal with criticism. It's bound to happen. As much as I want to run from criticism, I've learned that if I want to change the world, people are going to be negative around me. It can be loud sometimes, but I'm learning to tune it out. 

The final key in mastering is creating sabbath in your life. Jon Acuff tells a story about building in a little Central Park in your life. If New York City built up every square inch of the city, we'd miss out on a beautiful and peaceful park. I tend to build up things in my life until I completely run out of room. In order to be awesome we need to disconnect, schedule peace, and have sabbath. 
Make sure that in the midst of this adventure you don't confuse "building up your dream" with "burning out your dream." (158)
Believe it or not, but I pared this post down a lot. In fact, I edited out a lot of material. I didn't write about a much of awesomeness in these two chapters. I hope in the next few weeks I'll be able to share more - more of my fears, dreams, and how I'm incorporating sabbath into my life.

In the mean time, I'd love to hear about what you think of the book based on my small pictures. Are you intrigued? What are your fears and dreams?

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are uniquely mine.
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