When lack of progress becomes an act of creation

Yesterday this Tweet from Steve Plunkett in my stream caught my attention. At first glance, I wasn’t sure why, but I’ve learned to heed these nags — it means my subconscious is poking me. “Hey! Here’s something you need to know!”

At first glance, this implies that running at 90 miles per hour with a roadmap in mind is normal, that it’s desirable, that everyone should be doing it. Following the analogy, though: where can you run 90 miles per hour? In a speedboat on open water… in a racer on the Bonneville Salt Flats… in a fast car on a major highway where the land is wide open and there are no speed limits and no obstacles.

Either no obstructions, or else you are running wide open on a highway paved by someone else, going to the destination they have chosen.

Aha.

I’ve seen this happen with many colleagues and coworkers. “I’m working as hard as I can! I’m doing everything I know how to do, but I’ll never get anywhere! Progress is sooooooo sloooooooow.”

Despair. Angst. Feeling like giving up, that the Brilliant Idea you are chasing is never going to work and success will never be achievable. Crawling through a jungle instead of running at 90 miles an hour. Feeling your way through the thicket without a roadmap… or even a compass to tell you whether you’re headed in the right direction.

Maybe you’re going slowly not because you are doing anything “wrong,” but because you’re breaking trail.

You’re not hauling ass on someone else’s yellow-highlighter highway to a destination they chose for you. You’re going where you need to go. Exploring. Creating an entirely new road with a destination that’s right for you. Or building a trail in the spirit of discovery. Who knows where it might lead? Someplace much more magical than someone else’s pre-determined goal, I bet.

Either way, it’s an act of creation, an act of faith.

Go slowly. Carve your own path through the wilderness.

No one else can do this other than you.