Ready, Aim...

By D.J. Vanas
News From Indian Country October 2010

Of course, you can fill in the missing word…FIRE! What good are the first two actions if the third doesn't follow? In essence, we’ve wasted our time.

For the last several months, we’ve put much work and time into rebuilding our website and making it all that we wanted it to be. Before all the work came the research to find a company who could do what we wanted and before that, a long brainstorming session to first create the vision of what we wanted in the new site.  We did the ready, we did the aim but pulling the trigger and firing was sometimes the hardest part (i.e. committing to our decisions!)

We all have areas of our lives and careers that we’re trying to change, improve and grow. Sometimes we fall into that limbo of spending inordinate amounts of time getting ready and aiming – and we never get around to firing so we never see the result. We get frustrated or move onto the next project or goal and follow the same broken pattern. Why do we do this and shortchange our progress?

I believe part of the hesitation in pulling the trigger on our goals lies in the fear of screwing things up. We have to be willing to let go, have faith in the process and realize that even stumbling in the right direction is still sending us in the right direction. Growth is messy, it doesn’t always turn out like we planned, but it’s a necessary element in making our lives and careers an adventure!

Next year is the 50th Anniversary of the landmark novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee was a one-hit wonder who wrote an incredibly powerful book that addressed moral courage, the consequences on society of ignorance and racism and changed the landscape of American literature and impacted society as a whole in the process… and she never wrote again. Part of the reason she never wrote another book was the overwhelming pressure to produce anything comparable to her first. She had confided in a cousin these words: “When you’re at the top, there’s only one way to go.” But imagine what great works she might have penned had she had the courage to fire more than once.

I’m reminded of days at Nichols Jr. High School in Biloxi, MS. During breaks in the school day, we would do double Dutch. If you’ve ever done this, you know the overwhelming feeling of hesitation when it’s your turn to jump and you stand in front of two long ropes covered in hard, heavy plastic whirling just inches from your face. You time it, make the decision and jump in – and sometimes you’d get popped in the head or the back of your neck if your timing was off. It was part of the process. But when you timed it right, it felt truly amazing. Some kids made a show of bobbing their heads back and forth and then would back away to stretch, talk about it, then they’d come back and do it all again. They would do this until the bell rang and we headed back to class and would mumble, “Man, I was gonna…” They never “jumped in.” Those of us who jumped may have had occasional welts, but the others never had the thrill of feeling what it’s like to pump your legs like pistons as you jumped inside of a plastic tornado!

In the next life we may be rewarded for intention, but in this life, our rewards are based on actions. Our boss, our family, our friends and our clients don’t want to know what we think we’d like to do on a daily basis to impact them, but rather see what we do in that regard. So get ready, aim and fire! Things won’t always go according to plan, they may take longer than expected and it may cost more than you wanted to spend – but in the end, these are the things that move us forward, allow us to grow and get us further down the path than we ever thought we could go.

…and no one wants to be that kid who never jumps in and complains about it all the way back to class…