Taking Steps

Taking Steps

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On a day by day basis, I believe I’m not very productive. Even looking at the work I do week by week and month by month, I’ll say I’m not too effective at all. But if I look at what I can achieve year by year, then, I start to celebrate my effectiveness. Over a decade, I believe I can achieve anything I set my mind to.

Believe it or not, I have a lot of free time, yet I can still make big things happen. This flies in the face of commonly held dogma that you have to work hard to get places.

I support a lot of people to achieve their long term goals and dreams. I also help them to understand the power of taking tiny steps towards those goals – some taking as little as 10 minutes a week.

My strength is that I can take it easy whilst being gently relentless in the pursuit of my bold dreams. I am able to set ridiculous goals and achieve them in a leisurely way.

The skill enabling me to do this is an ability to just keep taking steps forward. I keep one eye on the long term goal, and one eye on the tiniest next step towards achieving that goal. The fact that I don’t put any pressure on myself to take big steps or work hard means that I am much less likely to give up. The energy it takes to keep going is a lot less than most, because I deliberately put in as little energy as possible to get there.

I started this blog to take a weekly step towards my dreams, and it takes an hour of my time, per week. Over years, this blog has completely transformed my life. What’s powerful about this story isn’t any individual post, but the fact that it was several years before I missed writing a post. I spent an hour a week, over years, to reflect and move forward. I was never distracted enough by the day-to-day to miss out on the important work to be done to move me forward, year by year.

The Dandelion Foundation’s mission to make Guernsey the best place to live on earth by 2020 has felt like an impossible goal, at times. I had to break it down into ‘Who do I  need to meet for coffee next?’ Over the years, I’ve had thousands of coffees – which led to a system creating impact – and the ambitious goal we set looks increasingly likely to be realised. Achieving that goal won’t have come from intensely hard work, but from engaging in relentless, gentle steps, over time.

There is a famous Bill Gates quote: “Most people overestimate what they can do in a year and vastly underestimate what they can do in a decade”. I see a lot of people who give up –  disheartened by what they are (not) achieving in the short term, and unambitious about what they could achieve in the long term. They put in a lot of effort and don’t feel they are getting any return from it – but it is extremely difficult to see efforts realised as outcomes in the short term. I like people to consider this question: “What kind of effort can you make to build something, using minimal energy and expecting no return, in the short term?” This way, things are much more sustainable and achievable. This way, you can keep going for the years it takes to really make things happen.

When people realise this, trusting that this technique works, a long term possibility opens up that they’d never conceived before. Then, a question I like to ask them is: “If anything was possible, and you could achieve anything, what is the one problem in the world that you would solve, if you could?”

This gives them a mission or purpose.

The first step on that mission might be as simple as posting your dream on social media, or going for a coffee and telling someone about it. The next 50 steps could be as simple as going for 50 coffees, to talk to 50 people about that dream.

After hundreds of steps over several years, your life could be unrecognisable from now and the world could be much better for it. None of those steps need to be hard. Make it easy.

Imagine how great this world would be, if we can realise the potential of taking small steps towards bold dreams.

To taking steps.

Marc

P.S. I’m delighted to say that this is the first blog post I’ve ever written that has been financially supported by my own community. Thank you to those who have supported my Patreon campaign this past week. If you haven’t already, I invite you to consider contributing, if you are inspired to do so. Securing regular funding to write blog posts is the first step in a multi-year project and a long-held dream for my work to be financially supported by the people whom I serve. I have no idea how long it is going to take, but I know I am going to take a step every week to get there. The next small steps after funding the blog will be towards funding my podcast: Coffee From The Edge, in which I talk to changemakers from around the world about how they make great things happen. I would love to get this up and running.

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  1. One step at a time. Good luck with the journey Marc. In reading your blog I applaud your efforts to change the world for the better. What is interesting is the extent to which your view of life continues to see yourself as central… instead of re-imagining yourself as the inconsequential snowflake spec in a vast universe that we each perhaps are. Look how often you use ‘I’ in our first para alone. What would it take to see yourself smaller, less colourful and more distant in the way you think? Perhaps what you seek is somewhere on the road to non ego-centric perspective? This idea might be worth pondering in the footsteps of Buddha?

    You wrote (first para)……’On a day by day basis, I believe I’m not very productive. Even looking at the work I do week by week and month by month, I’ll say I’m not too effective at all. But if I look at what I can achieve year by year, then, I start to celebrate my effectiveness. Over a decade, I believe I can achieve anything I set my mind to…..’

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