Actually Getting Big Things Done is a series of guests posts on how to make things happen from those who know how to… well… actually get big things done. Today’s post comes from Nick Wynja of Hack/Make. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Nick over the past few months, first online and more recently in the bars of NYC. Put simply, Nick annoys the piss out of me. At 23 he has an understanding of himself and has his act together in a way I hope to achieve by the time I’m 43. I’ve never been one for predictions, but I’m confident that Nick will make some seriously big things happen over the span of his life. I’m just glad I get to watch and talk to him about what he’s up to every now and again…
The first thing to grasp if you want to get big things done is this: You don’t do big things–you do and big things happen.
The process starts with starting. Fire before you aim or are even ready.
It’s natural for us geeks to read the Wikipedia entry, install the software and tools, and fantasize for too long before we actually start creating. We practice it in our heads while following blogs about it until we feel ready. By the time you feel ready, it’s often too late; someone else filled that open job opportunity or jumped on the same idea you had and took the domain.
Start now. You won’t be great right away and your thing won’t be a big thing yet but you’re on your way. Get some momentum going so you can learn where to improve and then adjust your course rather than waiting until you think you’ve got your course figured out.
For a while, I hesitated writing because I didn’t think I was very good. I excused myself because I didn’t have good ideas anyway. People who get in front of the keyboard often enough will tell you that they aren’t good either. But they start typing and stuff comes out. Without first putting pen to paper–or I guess bits to txt–you won’t be able to edit, to fix, and to publish.
Once you’ve pulled the trigger, aim towards your values and virtues not your goals. Use your values as a guide to make your decisions intentional. Goals will shift and outcomes will be different than what you expect so let strong values direct you.
What are your values? Live fast, die young? Family first? Sacrifice nothing for quality? There’s no single right answer. It is up to you to figure that out but once you get an idea about what matters to you, it’s much easier to adjust your course since you have a better understanding of the characteristics of what you want to accomplish.
These are a few things I want to accomplish in what I do now and in the arc of my life as a whole: to design and make beautiful things, to build technology for communication, and to use writing as a catalyst for myself and others to do in the hopes that eventually that thing will become a big thing. Those concepts are broad but having them defined brings clarity on what I should be doing short-term and helps me focus on each next step to satisfying what I want to do long-term.
The truth is I usually don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going–I make it up as I go. I got a lot better at what I do when I accepted that. When you get to that point, you make things a lot easier on yourself by surrendering some of your weaknesses and your own conceptions and allow yourself to rely more on systems, processes, and people. You’re a lot more willing to seek support, find tools that can help, and ask questions. It helps to know what you don’t know so get good at googling if you don’t have someone to ask. As long as you’re curious, you’ll find answers that will help you towards your long-term vision and to the next step in the process.
The next step in a project is an action. The next step in this process is being ready. It’s not ready like waiting, all set to go, it’s continuously becoming better so that when things have gained momentum and have become big things, you can be in that moment without hesitation.
By firing so you can begin to learn and use the knowledge gained to inform better decisions and aiming by aligning your course of actions with your values, you’ll become better by becoming ready and then be able act with the strength of your conviction and direction.
Start before it’s too late, let your values direct your vision, and be ready for opportunities that will come up. If you do, you’ll find a lot more big things happening with your name on them.
read it as well…Note: This may be a little bit meta, but I really enjoyed Nick’s piece that talks about the process of writing this piece. You should