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The first steps are the hardest

I launched this website about two weeks ago now and it has been sitting there with no content on it. I’ve felt really bad. The last thing I want is to be responsible for another empty blog sitting on a parked domain. I have no shortage of ideas. The problem is I just had no idea where I want to start. Keyword research was an idea — target a niche, create a content strategy. All this would have been good (a bit buzzwordy), however that would just be procrastination under the guise of feeling like I am doing something. There are times when you just need to take that step and ship it (i.e. publish that blog post, launch that product etc). It was then I knew exactly what I wanted to write about.

Which brings me to this story.

I am a huge fan of Seth Godin, especially his idea of work being art. Do work you know that makes a human connection. Invest yourself into it. Make art.

In Linchpin and The Icarus Deception Seth speaks of the resistance. The resistance is the beast that sits between you and shipping your idea. It is the voice that tells you not to stick out — not to be noticed. The voice that tells you are not good enough, you are a terrible writer and this blog is pointless. The resistance is the reason the last 10% of a project takes 80% of the time (well that and bad planning). The resistance is the reason people don’t ship.

I had a run in with the resistance this week. I had just finished the most complicated webpage/website I have ever made. It was the first time time I had been the head developer on a project like this. I had used a javascript animation library I’d never used before, video backgrounds, CSS animations, sprite-sheets, parallax — everything cool in web at the moment this page has it. After working on it for a solid month it started to look super amateur to me. I thought I had approached the whole project completely wrong. I was petrified of having strangers see my work. I kept thinking I’m not a developer, I’m bad at what I do. I felt like a hack.

So I started again.

The resistance had won.

There was nothing really wrong with the page. People kept telling me how awesome it was. As I started again I was determined to build it all from the ground up, not use any of that same terrible code as before.

I reused about 80%. The second time I had approached things a little differently. Things were better. The page ran a lot smoother. I was happy. At least I was at first. Then feeling came back. I hadn’t considered something, things were weird on a particular monitor size, compatibility was an issue, what about slow computers? I needed to start again. I needed more time. The resistance was getting to me. I was stressed. So I shipped it. I promoted my Github, sent the email to my manager for his review and I was done.

The relief that followed was amazing. My stress disappeared completely. Everyone who looked at it thought it was really happy. Nothing bad happened. People didn’t call me out for having zero class naming conventions, not minifying my JavaScript or having fixed widths (I’m still sorry about that web developers!). Everything was fine. The resistance was defeated. I’d won.

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This is a talk by Seth Godin about the Lizard Brain and the resistance. You can use both phrases interchangeably. It is a little old now but it is still fantastic. If you are not familiar with his work I suggest watching this video. This post will make a lot of more sense that way.

It was hard. Really hard. But I had beat the resistance. I had to push past what I thought and trust my colleagues. I am glad I experienced it. Beating it there meant I could do it again, which is why I am writing this now.

Seth says in his books that the resistance never really leaves you alone, you just get better at not listening to it. It gets easier. Having defeated the resistance once I knew I could do it again. So I have. Once again. With this post. The first steps are the hardest and these are mine.

PS — This is the page I have been writing about – the Compassion Australia 2014 Annual Report Summary.

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Category: Tag: Ship it

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