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15 Minutes of Absolute Clarity

What would you do if you knew you had just 15 minutes left. With just 15 minutes left clarity crystalizes in the mind. Clarity of purpose. Clarity of vision. Clarity of what it means to be alive. Totally alive. The petty things that cloud are vision and occupy our thoughts melt away. There’s no time for minutiae. No time for that next email about scheduling a meeting and putting the PowerPoint slides together. No time for analyzing all the options, getting buy in from all the stakeholders, all the people that might ridicule you for your actions. For taking a risk. For taking a stand.

Heck, there’s no time for worrying about being the fool. About being embarrassed or wondering what anybody thinks. No time for getting your hair right. Shaving. Ironing. No, there’s only time for decisive action. For setting into motion what will live on long after your final 15 minutes. What everyone will ultimately remember you by. Funny how a definitive end kicks you into action. Suddenly, you know absolutely what you must do. The sole reason you were placed on this beautiful planet to accomplish. And so, with 15 minutes to accomplish what you’ve dreamt for a lifetime you wanted to do. To be. You do it.

You know exactly what steps you need to take. What buttons to push. There’s no second guessing or backtracking. It’s all forward motion now. You’re able to bound up hills that moments ago seemed insurmountable. You’re able to push fear aside and act. With total clarity. Damn the pimples. The door dings in your new car. Who cares? They’re not important. You just made them so. You go right for the heart of what you’ve always known mattered but waited for the right time to act. Or waited because you were keeping your options open.

And so because of your clarity the people around you are inspired to act. To rethink their station and cast status quo aside. To banish mediocrity in favor of making that dent in the Universe. A dent that has absolutely nothing in common with a $39,000 Hermes Crocodile skin purse.

You take that risk because in 15 minutes it won’t be risky. You’ll have reached the end of the story. And your final chance to leave your mark. That’s it. There is no second chance now. No rewind or redos. No chance to lament. It’s all or nothing. I vote for all.

And if you fail? You’ll be remembered for your bravery. For your willingness to do what others were afraid of. And if you succeed? You’ll change lives and the world forever. Even if its leaving just one young girl with the gift of confidence in herself. In her ability to make a difference. To stand up to the pressures placed on growing up. The pressures to conform to what society expects. By doing just that, you’ll have changed the world because now she can carry on long after you’re gone and inspire others to do the same based on her actions. Her bravery. Few people even do that!

Now how cool is that?


The hard work of shipping and making maps

This isn’t about shipping that package cross country. It’s about making a difference in your job. In your life. And the lives of your customers, prospects and others around you. It’s what Seth Godin so eloquently writes about being the really hard stuff we can do if we so choose. It’s making a dent in the Universe much like Steve Jobs. Or Hugh MacCleod. Or Oprah. Or Chris Gardner.

That is if you’re willing to take risks. Let go of your fears. And take action. We all need to get off the sofa, out of our chairs. We need to get away from work-by-numbers. Away from following that well-trodden path. Because if you’re really going to ship in this era, you’re not going to have a map.

Seth also talks about the resistance against taking action. It’s powerful and keeps you down. When you let it. I know I’ve let it. In the form of doubt. Worry. The feeling of needing to read just one more book. One more blog post. And working on something until it’s perfect.

But you know what? It’s never going to be perfect. And if it’s never going to be perfect, you never need to finish. Right? That’s what you and I tell ourselves. It’s easy to do the daily emails and phone calls and project plans. But the long term big ones. The ones that move huge boulders forward. That’s what we don’t complete. I used to value perfection.

Now I value good enough. Pay attention to the details but just get the darn thing out in public. And let people talk. They will, you know. And that’s okay. It’s only personal when you start doing things people don’t expect from you. When you start being really remarkable. Breaking out of mediocrity and really DOING something. They get scared. They get jealous. They don’t want you to change. Not too much anyway.

Until Seth articulated it so well in his book Linchpin – and even The Dip before that – I never put a name to the resistance. And hadn’t realized how damaging it is to all of us. What a shame to live a life without reaching for your full potential. I’ve always considered myself a late bloomer. And feel like I’m just getting started. But I’m feeling like I’m suddenly more wide awake than ever.  And excited to get to work on the really hard stuff. To embrace the potential that lies ahead in this really rapidly changing time when we can so easily share our thoughts with the world. So easily in fact traditional media is crashing and burning. It’s powerful stuff.

Read Linchpin. It’s perhaps the single most important book I’ve read. Then read it again. Seth gives you two options. Be a cog and settle. Or ship. And he makes no bones about how hard shipping really is. And that not everyone’s going to do it because it’s hard. Because there’s no map. And because you just might be laughed at. You might laugh at me. Or maybe with me. Either way is okay.

I’m planning on creating a map – I don’t know exactly what it’ll look like. But I know it’ll have a lot to do with communication and exploring different ways to forge meaningful relationships and having thoughtful conversations in a sound bite, attention-starved world. And it’ll likely have a lot to do with mobile. And how that’s revolutionizing how we connect. And how we market.

To help me stay more focused, I’m starting to work with the online version of the Action Method after reading (yes another book) Scott Belsky’s great book, Making Ideas Happen – and think you should check it out. He makes project management personal, enjoyable and flexible by making it really simple. Oh, and while I still love to read, I’m not letting that be an excuse for not taking action.

What are you going to do? What map will you draw?