super hero syndrome + the practical response to crazy ambition
or, “How to Accomplish Great Big Stuff in a Short Amount of Time” Technically speaking I created THE FIRE STARTER SESSIONS in under twelve weeks. The holy spirit of digital love and audacity entered my soul and MacBook Pro and said: GO FORTH AND CRANK IT, LAPORTE! Maybe it’s Catholic residue, but I felt called. So I set an impossible deadline for myself and I declared that the e-book was done–that it actually existed somewhere on the cosmos already, and all I needed to do was pull it down from the ether into pixel form.
I was crazy. Ca-ra-zee. It’s a good thing that I revere Crazy. Crazy gets stuff DONE. Crazy eats impossible for her afternoon sugar fix. And if I may use some Kerouac to pat myself on the back, “Here’s to the crazy ones.”
That said, having been around plenty of start-ups and politicians in my career, I’ve seen a whole lot of the stupid-kinda-crazy.
STUPID CRAZY is the unrealistic, delusional, (and often inflated) thought that you can accomplish big, fast, amazing professional things while keeping the rest of your life in a state of “balance.” Young dudes/dudettes in Silicon Valley and other such wanna be’s have this one down–and they get dumped by their fiancees, quietly deal with anxiety, and know little about life outside…their life.
It’s the Super Hero syndrome: I can do it all! I can squeeze more hours out of the day; keep up my exercise regime, be romantically attentive; well groomed n’ stylin’; AND! launch a brilliant, brain-powered innovative, substantive product in record time. Nothing will change. I’ll just fit MORE in.
Of course you have to do MORE. You have to expand in order to reach new heights. But that critical more-ness needs to be poured directly into your project, not spread thin amongst a bunch of pre-existing obligations and habits. Focus your moreness.
AT THE START OF YOUR CRAZY AMBITIOUS PROJECT:
1. Ask yourself what you’re going to have to give up in order to pull it off.
It’s a total downer of a question and Super Heroes hate this part of strategy. In order to launch THE FIRE STARTER SESSIONS on time, I gave up: most all TV, a lot of sunny weekends outside, about a 40% of my monthly income (I had to cut back on clients to have more creative time,) and pretty much all socializing. You cannot pull off energy intensive big-wins in a state of harmony. It happens in bursts and fits and pushing and grooving–innovation by nature is disruptive, not easy going.
Something will have to give so greatness has room to emerge. So give it up before it takes you down.
2. Line up some “multi-dimensional” support.
When it’s nose-to-the-grindstone time, we tend to get the grindstone kind of people on board–suppliers, designers, editors, marketers, “work/task” people. But this is precisely the time when you need some spiritually-informed intelligence to back you up. Woo-woo love and insight will help you navigate the heavy-duty logistics on a daily basis.
3. Declare your intentions as widely as possible.
Announce that you’re going “away” for a while. When you’re proactive about announcing your short term, utter neglect and blatant unavailability to the rest of the world, you solve some problems before they start. I told my friends that I was going into the creative bubble and would be up for air late May. And so when I missed a birthday, and when I had to repeatedly say “no thanks” to tea dates, it was not only cool, but I didn’t feel guilty and anti-social. I felt responsible and supported. Bonus!
Half of getting where you want to go is KNOWING WHAT IT TAKES TO GET THERE. Crazy ambition requires radical practicality. Otherwise, it’s just stupid.