Podcast on getting started and moving through the middle
There’s a quote attributed to the legendary coach of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins in which he said, “It’s the start that stops most people.” It certainly stopped me for longer than I care to recall. But I’m glad to say that I did eventually get out of the gates on truly pursuing who I feel I really am and what I’m here to contribute. As a result, these days, it’s the big, fat, shadowy middle part that looms as a much larger obstacle than the starting line ever did.
So if you’re like me, and have committed yourself to relentlessly working toward your goals and dreams, which have you found to be more of a challenge: the effort and action for getting started in the first place, or the courage and commitment it takes to keep moving through the murky middle?
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The more I consider it, the more I feel like this process plays itself out, over and over, throughout our lives. It’s just a matter of our perception of the scale of the challenge we’re looking to overtake, but the process is largely the same. You’ve likely come across the idea that it takes the same amount of effort to bag an elephant as a mouse, and yet we’re prone to shrinking from our fullest expression because we don’t feel we’re up to it. We think the challenge is too big. We’re afraid of failing, of succeeding, of judgement, of … you name it. And so we don’t get started. Yet if you look back, you’ll see quite clearly that we all have positive experience to draw upon in this regard. We’ve all set out to overcome big challenges, some of which chose us and didn’t give us any option but to go through them. In every case, it’s just been a matter of how bad we wanted whatever we decided to pursue.
You don’t have to be in the Guinness Book of Records to see that you’ve done this in your life, time after time. At one point, you didn’t know how to walk. Or run. Or ride a bike. You learned because you decided to.
You likely went on to want to learn to drive a car. To have your first kiss. To get a job. Those things all seemed like gargantuan challenges at one time, at least to me.
As life goes on, you tackle bigger and bigger things. Some, because you feel you have to. Others, because you want to. But in every case, there is a choice to get started, and a decision at some point along the way – in the middle – to keep going even when it feels that the end result is still beyond the horizon.
I bet I fell repeatedly when I learned to walk. I don’t remember. But I must have had the capacity to decide and persevere even before I could talk (which I also learned how to do). Think about that for just a moment: how innate is your ability to access deep levels of determination and drive that supersede even your ability to externally communicate. Wow.
Getting Back on the Bike
I know I fell of my bike a lot, trying to conquer that challenge. Lots of bruises and scrapes resulted. But I eventually got there. And when you finally find the balance of flying along on two wheels for the first time … boy … that’s what living feels like!
If I really think about it, I can still access the emotions I was feeling when I wondered how it would ever be possible to break into the career field I initially targeted (radio broadcasting). At the time, it seemed an impossible mystery. But I kept moving toward it, and I eventually conquered and moved past it.
In fact, as I look back, I can see that I’ve conquered all kinds of major challenges over the course of my first four decades. I’m willing to bet that the same is true for you, too. Why, then, can it still seem such an enormous obstacle to stretch ourselves beyond the limits of what we feel we’re currently capable when we have ample evidence to suggest we not only can do it, but we have done it, over and over, all our lives?
Those are the kinds of questions I find myself considering as I work through what I perceive to be the big “middle” of a process that began for me in earnest only recently, in relative terms. I’m talking about career, health, mindset and financial reinvention. I mean challenging my own idea of the status quo, discovering what it is that I really believe, uncovering the truth behind why I think the way I do and act the way I act, and actively re-scripting and re-programming myself to achieve heights that seem, quite frankly, lofty as all heck.
Two Voices: The Devil & The Angel
There is that one voice that says to me, “You can do it, Kevin. Go for it. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.” Agreeing and accepting what that voice has to say is what gets you started. But somewhere along the way, even after you’ve got yourself going and have accumulated a body of work, another voice kicks in that says, “Who the heck do you think you are? What are you doing? What makes you think this is going to work?” That’s the voice of the middle.
Getting started is scary by exhilarating. You almost feel “high” when you finally decide to do or be something new. It’s empowering. But it doesn’t take long before the real work begins, and the middle kicks in. Continuing to move through that part, when you’re not even sure where the finish line is because you’re doing something you’ve never done before, is what separates the good from the average, and the great from the good.
- Planning a home renovation is fun. Living in a temporary construction zone is the middle.
- Dreaming of and shopping for a new home is exciting. Packing, planning, and dealing with banks, lawyers, address changes and a new place to leave your keys is the middle.
- Imagining yourself in a new job and dusting off your resume is empowering. Going door-to-door and doing interviews and networking and facing rejection and even the cloak of everything unfamiliar after you do start somewhere new … that’s the middle.
- Deciding to lose some weight and get in better shape so you can have more energy, live longer and just generally enjoy life more is an incredibly powerful choice to make. Re-learning your eating habits, discovering new aisles at the grocery store (or new stores), declining in certain social situations, looking in the mirror and not seeing progress after weeks and months of new exercise while seeing endless “instant gratification” ads on television … that’s the middle.
What I’ve seen and experienced is that if your desire is strong enough and if you understand the deep and profound underlying reasons why you want to do (or stop) or achieve whatever it is you’re gunning for, the more likely you’ll be not only to get started, but to find that, once the middle bit hits, you’ll have made the habit of believe and relentless action so habitual that you won’t know any different but to feel that fear and uncertainty and keep marching anyway.
The question is, what do you desire so deeply that you’re willing to face the specter of both getting started and the fog of the middle? And in your experience, which one’s been a bigger challenge?
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The founder of No Schedule Man Brand Media, Kevin Bulmer is a Strategic Marketing and Mindset Coach and Keynote Speaker. He is the producer and host of the momondays London inspirational event series, strategic marketing coach for Awesomepreneurs and is also host of the podcast, “Journeys with the No Schedule Man.”
Day-to-day, Kevin helps heart-centered entrepreneurs find their “REAL” success so they can feel free to live and work happy. His overarching purpose is to uplift through a shared example of continual growth.
For life coaching online and ongoing strategic marketing coaching & support, join Kevin’s online coaching membership service, My REAL Success Pass. To work with Kevin directly, apply for 1-on-1 coaching, hire him to speak (virtually or in person) for your group and/or book a private workshop or group coaching session.