Means vs Ends

One of my favorite people who I have met in my time annoying others on Twitter is one Matt White. He’s one of the smarter dudes around and super nice, and puts up with my belligerence to boot. He has lately been talking about starting up an iOS app or three (Matt, correct me if I’m missing anything) and tweeted this (re: Chuck’s post from the other day):

He actually said quite a bit more in conversation, but I jumped in with the general thought that separating those can be very difficult. It’s hard to watch your creative-baby leave home under any circumstances, much less sell it, expose it to criticism, failure, etc. And that doesn’t even take into account the process. Starting the damn thing is a task in and of itself. It’s a lot to do:

  • Come up with the idea
  • Design it
  • Make (code, write, whatever) it
  • Sell it

There are literally entire companies dedicated to each of those steps and somehow you have to shoehorn that around a day job, husband/wife/kids/etc. Yeah- It’s a lot.

Years and years ago, I was volunteering at the Museum of Flight (where I spent the majority of my childhood) at their educators open house, and Mac Bledsoe, who to this day is one of the coolest people I have ever met. His son, for the football fans out there, is Drew, QB for the Patriots before another QB of no small renown took over. He said a lot that has stuck with me, but one thing really speaks to this. He said (more or less):

Take a small piece of notebook paper. On it, list, in order, your top ten goals, no matter what they are. Carry that paper with you everywhere. Read it first thing in the morning and last thing at night and throughout the day. Every time you make a decision, think how it affects those goals. And you will achieve them.

Drew carried around a piece of paper that had one goal on it- “I will be a Super Bowl winning quarterback”. Mac said “I’m not proud of this, but for a while my #1 goal was “I will own a Harley”.

This is a fantastic way to compartmentalize everything if you’re undertaking a project- separate it into smaller projects, and make lists of goals. Make all your goals line up. Let’s take Matt’s example, and say he wants to make an app that sells one million copies- There is goal #1, the overriding goal that every other goal has to tie back to. Write that down, put it up in the office, in your wallet, everywhere. Or maybe it works the other way- He wants to make an app that makes life easier. Or entertains. Or whatever. Figure out those goals, write them down and work towards them.

The great thing is, you can set your goals for down the road- say, marketing and selling it- and put them on the back burner until you’re at that point.

Speaking from experience, I have filled notebooks over the last year with goals for 3024AD. In fact, the first one I wrote down before I started writing the books. In a shade over three weeks, I will have achieved that goal. I have a new one already, gracing my whiteboard next to my computer (no, I’m not telling what it is). I have hit nearly every one so far and have every confidence in reaching this one (with several smaller ones in between).

My point is this: It’s a tricky thing, Frodo, going out your front door, but know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. (that’s how it went, right?)

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