My bio states, “I am a serial starter striving to be a faithful finisher” and I just wrote a post about the Art of Finishing. Those serve as reminders to myself as much as they do anything else. Well to stay in tune to those, I had to put the brakes on another one of my side projects.
The truth is that I am an addict. I am addicted to the launch. The birthing of ideas. Starting and the burst of adrenaline that it brings.
Here is a little background. I decided to start a book club here in Marlborough. My goal was to get involved in the community and foster an environment centered on stories and filled with good conversation and discussion. Not to mention good food and wine. It hasn’t gone public yet but I have built a website, picked and ordered a book, determined a time and place, and partnered with a local business. All things have gone well so far but I am ceasing all activity concerning this endeavor. Why?
There are two reasons:
1) If you are new to an area, first serve your community through existing avenues. Learn the lay of the land from others and participate. Get to know people in the settings they are already comfortable with. Spend time doing this instead of speculating what this new community wants and how to deliver it to them. Only create if the need is 100% not currently being met.
In my research for book club names and meeting times I found several other book clubs in the surrounding areas. This showed me that while book clubs are popular, the audience is probably taxed and there are few people seeking a new book club. Chances are that those who want to attend a book club have found one they are satisfied. Maybe not always true but I feel certain that is true in this case. So I need to go to them, not create an attraction that competes. Not first.
Serve (participate) and then Create (lead) once you have learned the needs of your community.
2) Don’t launch just to launch. Start because you have to, not because you can.
I mentioned earlier that I am addicted to launching. This is probably the precise reason I have found myself in this situation. If I’m honest, I like starting and creating better than I do submitting and serving. Also, if the thing you are starting is not related to your core passion then you will surely quit and end up spinning your wheels. Only launch when your core passion and community needs are in alignment.
The odd thing is that I have grown to learn quite the opposite in running. In the beginning of a long run you have an extra pep in your step and your legs are fresh. Your lungs are maxed-out with oxygen and your mind pondering the journey ahead. But despite how great the beginning of a run feels, it is not why most runners run. They are addicted to the “runner’s high” and the feeling felt after enduring and finishing the run. This feeling covers all of the pain of the middle-miles and there is little mention of what was felt a half-mile into it. Such feeling is also multiplied when the running with friends or a training partner.
People do not share that they started a marathon but rather that they finished one. Few say, “man that first mile was just so good that I had to stop.” Well, I need to take what I have learned from endurance training and apply it creatively. I currently just ran almost a mile and realized that I shouldn’t be in the race. I shouldn’t be training for that race. It is going to lead me down a place I don’t want to be. Not a bad place, but it would tire me out for the larger race; the one I am trying ever so hard to be focused on.
I am glad to have realized my addiction and stopped at this point in the process. No real harm has been done but I am still frustrated that I let it get to this point. This leaves me humbled but thankful for growth. I hope to join an already existing book club and learn to submit and belong. Not create to control.
It is time to settle in, power through those middle miles, and seek to feel that “finisher’s high” not the “starter’s surge.”
Here is the video of the interview where the above quote by Jon Acuff was found (10:40 ish).