In my coaching and training work helping women lead more fulfilling lives, I’m asked every day questions like this: “Kathy, do you think this is too stupid an idea?” or “This may be really crazy, but I’m thinking of…” or my favorite, “My family says this is nuts and will never work, but I’m thinking of…” Thousands of people are wracked with fear, paralysis, and embarrassment (or even shame) when considering if they should pursue something “stupid” that their heart desires most.
But after 10 years of helping people turn “stupid” into amazing, I trust wholeheartedly in the power of starting your own version of something stupid, and have seen how this process turns a mediocre and unsatisfying life into a thrilling one.
I was intrigued, then, to discover Richie Norton’s new book The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen & Live Without Regret, and couldn’t wait to speak to Richie about his ideas and his journey from “stupid” to stupendous.
As I read the book, I was deeply moved by Richie’s personal story of losing his beautiful and perfect infant boy of only 10 weeks, and having to make the unbearable decision not to resuscitate him as the process would only prolong his suffering and in the end, not save his life. As is often the case when tragedy rips a gash in our reality, we feel forever changed by the loss. In Richie’s case, his life took on a very real sense of urgency, and he faced the shocking realization that circumstance is completely outside our realm of control. Not just certain circumstances, but ALL circumstance. This realization opened the door for Richie to learn the biggest lesson of his life to date, what he calls “Gavin’s Law” (named after his beloved brother-in-law Gavin, who died at 21, just two years before the death of his baby boy Gavin).
Gavin’s Law is this:
“Live to start. Start to live.”
There is so much to learn in Richie’s book, but I want to share here Richie’s 6 steps to making our dreams happen. From my perspective, this model covers all the key bases, and if you use this as a roadmap to pursuing your crazy, stupid idea, you’ll be on the right track.
The 6 steps to Making Dreams Happen and Living without Regret:
1. Crush Fear
It’s not the actual circumstances that we should feel threatened by, it’s the fear of the circumstances that poses the real threat. The bottom line is that people with high aspirations are going to experience a proportionately high level of fear. If high aspirations are equal to high fear, then the flip side to that truth is that overcoming high fear is equal to achieving high aspirations. To crush fear doesn’t mean you eliminate it; crushing fear means you literally crush it down into smaller, more manageable parts and tackle one piece at a time.
2. End Pride
The line between fear and pride is nearly imperceptible. At the heart of pride, is the fear of looking stupid. Pride convinces people to feel justified in quitting because, for prideful people, approval is sought at all costs—even at the cost of success. Prideful people won’t ask for help, they won’t ask questions, and they don’t want to do anything to challenge the status quo. To overcome pride, you must embrace “The Humble Power Alternative” – lean into your “stupid” ideas, do more than you think you should do, take ownership of your life, don’t blame others for lack of success, and encourage others in their success. There is true power born of humility.
3. Overcome Procrastination
When we procrastinate, we fill our lives with the tasks that are right in front of us rather than make the concerted effort to leave enough room in our schedules to pursue dreams. Procrastination doesn’t always come in the form of frivolous activities. Often we’re filling our time with good or even essential tasks, but even so, anytime you postpone doing the things that are most important in your life, you are falling victim to procrastination. “Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried” (the slogan of Procrastinators Anonymous). Procrastination must be overcome or it will rob you of the things that could be most significant in your life.
There are so many helpful ideas in Richie’s book, including how to evaluate a “stupid” idea to see if it’s stupid smart, or viewing the starting of something stupid as a “project” rather than a do-or-die endeavor, or my favorite tip: making a pact to surround yourself every day only with people who embody the “serve, thank, ask, receive, trust” philosophy.
But what you’ll find most in this book is a powerful reminder that within you is a kernel, the seed of something enormous that others (or your inner critic) will say is stupid, but when honored and nurtured, will show you why you’re on this planet at this time, and why no one else can contribute and make the difference that you can, if you only start.
Are you deeply longing to start something stupid? What will it take for you to crush your fear and start it today?
(For more about Richie, check out www.richienorton.com and The Power of Starting Something Stupid. And to gain clarity on the stupid ideas you long to pursue in your career, take my free Career Path Self-Assessment.)