I read a blog post last night from Seth Godin, the acclaimed author, marketer and professor of change. In this blog he spoke about how the power of fear keeps us from reaching our goals. (Something I’ve written about, as well, just without the 13 best sellers to my name!) I read another story this morning on LinkedIn about the secret to accomplishing the impossible. And, I recently re-read Steve Jobs’ famous Stanford commencement address (which was the darling of social media posts in the days and weeks following his death).
As I read through each of these very different essays, I found a common thread. Yes, they all spoke of setting big goals and believing in yourself. They talked about the importance of facing down fear. They touched on the pushing away the naysayers. Be bold. Be passionate. Be daring. Be all those things that we say inspire us. (And the evidence of said inspiration comes in the form of Facebook likes and comments, Twitter RTs and other instant sharing: Only you can live the life you’ve imagined! “Yes!” “Right On!” “So inspirational!” “Where’s the LOVE button?!?”)
But, none of those things are the thread of which I write. It takes so much more than clicking “like” to lose 20 pounds, find a new job, discover your passion or whatever it is your say you want to do. I’ve told anyone that will listen for the better part of 20 years, “If I could do anything I wanted, I’d write.” And then mostly did nothing about it. So, while these words from Seth Godin, LinkedIn and Steve Jobs are powerful, they don’t share the single most important lesson: How do you make it happen? How do I ignore fear? How do I be daring? How do I be bold?
It’s simple: Get Off Your Ass.
Want to lose 20 pounds, 50, 100? Get off your ass. Want to turn your passion into a career? Get off your ass. Want to be a writer, Mr. Lieman? Get off your ass! This isn’t about tough love. It’s about action. Action is the enemy of fear. Action is the enemy of excuses. The enemy of doubt. The second you don’t think you can do something. The second you decide that something is impossible. In that second, your “want” turns to “can’t,” because want without any action is just that…can’t. But, more importantly, the second you take action, the can’t turns into possibility.
I spent all of last year working on a project that I’m now turning into a book. I’ve had the idea for years, but never worked on it. Why? Oh, there were a myriad of excuses. “I don’t have time,” was just the easiest. And even now, as I’m faced with the daunting task of cranking out page after page and struggle with finding the right tone and voice, I make even more excuses. But it dawned on me as a friend, with whom I’m working to keep on track, challenged me to find my mantra when I got bogged down. It dawned on me that if I really want to do this, I need to simply get off my ass. Over and over: Get off my ass, get off my ass, get off my ass. Ohmmm.
I understand that there are deeper reasons behind why we can’t lose weight or why we sabotage relationships. So, get off your ass and find a good therapist. A good coach. Take action. Kill the demons that are keeping you from achieving what you want by constantly whispering in your ear that you can’t.
And, this isn’t only about personal issues. I do some volunteer work and, while we’re very clear with what we want, I am constantly faced with all the reasons why we can’t do things. There’s not enough of a budget. We don’t have enough staff resources. We can’t this. We can’t that. I understand how hard we all work to reach our goals, but I can’t help but think that if we’d simply stop talking about all the reasons why we can’t do something (and get off our asses), maybe we can be even more successful.
But why? Why do we seem to have so much trouble getting off our asses?
I think that part of the reason is because social media has dumbed down our reaction and response to inspiration. That isn’t to say that there aren’t truly inspiring words and actions happening all around us. Just the opposite. Inspiration is everywhere. So much so that inspiration has gotten overexposed.
It’s impossible to watch a TED talk and not feel inspired. It’s impossible to read incredible stories about overcoming insurmountable odds and not feel inspired. But, whereas we used to read stories like that in magazines and newspapers and ACT (which is what being inspired really means), now we click “like” or “share” and add our comments, “This is really amazing. So inspirational.” Those simple clicks have replaced real action. They have replaced the action of getting off your ass and doing something. We have so much inspiration that we don’t know where to start. We are literally paralyzed with inspiration.
The social media space is filled with inspirational stories, motivating quotes and lists about the “10 Things You Can Do to Lose 50 Pounds,” “10 Ways to Find Your Passion,” They’re usually filled with obvious things like “eat less and exercise,” “write down what you eat,” “be accountable to friends and family,” or in the case of finding your passion, “write your obituary” and on and on.
The fact is, however, life is simpler than that. Maybe it’s not as easy as I’d like it to be, but it’s certainly not as hard as most of us make it. You don’t need to do 10 things. No matter what it is you want to do, there’s only one thing you need to do first and do it often. And if this post inspires you, honor it (and honor my own action of writing week after week) by acting and doing that one thing.
Get off your ass.