I Know the Answer to The Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything
The answer is progress, not perfection (or it’s 42).
I love The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The story goes, an alien race built a computer to answer the question of life, the universe and everything. They waited 7.5 million years for an answer to finally be produced. It was 42. And no one understood. The computer explained the answer could not be comprehended by those who did not understand the question they were asking.
So often, we look for the perfect time or circumstance to start living our dream. I am guilty here too. My dream to be a writer has been held up by a picture of perfection in my mind. Without the ideal circumstance, I couldn’t start writing. In my mind, the picture forms: I wake up and grab a cup of coffee, walk to my writer’s studio overlooking the water and write in complete serenity. In essence, I was asking the wrong question. I was asking for the perfect picture of me as a writer. But is that really what I wanted?
I realized the picture I had painted was not going to happen anytime soon, so instead I decided to begin. I was on a train to New York City and had the inspiration to tell a story, so I did. I wrote. I edited. My kids were talking. The train was rocking. I struggled to finish and to make any sense. Then I just hit publish. The result was far from perfect.
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” -Steve Jobs
My sister and I have been talking about starting a business together for at least 15 years. We have had countless ideas. We have debated and planned and written and worked. We wrote the first half of a book. We have mapped out business plans. We have spent countless hours researching. And every time we got close, we dropped the idea. Maybe we did not really believe we could do it. Or maybe we thought there was some special knowledge we needed. Our excuse was always there: not enough time, not enough money, not enough…fill in the blank. What question were we asking? Did we want to make progress, really? Or were we paralyzed by the imperfection of the process?
“Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can” -Arthur Ashe
Spending years working for other people has taught us an invaluable lesson. Those who have started the businesses we work for, the people who have achieved success, do not have any special assets that we do not possess. They are smart and motivated people who have flaws, just like we do. They have strengths and they have doubts, just like we do. They do not know all the answers but they figure it out as they go, just like we do. The only difference is, they started.
I finally decided it was time. My priorities shifted and I realized life was too short to let one more day go by. I called my sister and I sent her my pitch for a product company. She was incredibly excited and loved the idea. I said, this time we go all the way. We cannot look back in 20 years and say we could have done this. We began that day.
As I started to work on my creative and business projects, a strange thing began to happen. Other things just fell away. Friendships which no longer served me disappeared. I never turn the television on. The news hardly interests me. My focus on what I want to create in the world has become the most important goal each day. After years of trying to get into the state of flow, I feel like it has finally happened, naturally.
As I lost some things, I gained others. My friendships with creative people grew. My day job became more interesting and I had new opportunities to expand my contacts and experience. I found a workout plan that I could do regularly. My relationships improved, my body became stronger and my creativity expanded.
I believe when you step out in faith, the road rises up to meet you. Each time we move forward we have found the perfect person or circumstance we need. Our team is assembling and includes the most incredibly creative and passionate people. It has become clear that it is less important to focus on what we are building and far more valuable to concentrate on why we are building it. Are we creating a business just to break free of the bonds of our jobs? Or are we creating an incredible experience for both customers and employees? Finally, it feels like we are asking the right questions.
I cannot give you the ultimate happy ending…yet. But follow me on this journey. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I am a writer and I have stories published on Medium. I have a startup company in its beginning stages. Everyday I work on the items I feel most passionately need my attention. I let go of the need for perfection so I can find my true path. For me, that starts with asking the right questions and moving forward; and remembering to focus on progress. Realizing it will not be perfect allows for something even better, for it to be real.