• Creating legacy in the garage phase

    ‘After all, in private we’re all misfits.’  Lily Tomlin

    What is the garage phase?

    The ‘garage phase’ is the term I use to describe the period of incubation of a legacy project. It is the stretch of time during which you are working on your legacy project but are not making it publicly accessible.

    I use the term ‘garage’ simply because many start-up businesses started in someone’s garage, and the garage strikes me as an adequate metaphor for the type of spaces that make good legacy project HQs at the beginning of a project. But of course, depending on your legacy project, your ‘garage’ might be the kitchen table, a park bench, or your office desk at work during lunch hour.

    How long will be garage phase be?

    The length of the garage phase varies from project to project. I’ve kept this blog, for example, in the ‘garage phase’ for about two months before posting my first entry. The two months were used generating ideas for blog posts, researching materials, observing the way in which other bloggers interacted with their readers, and developing my own blogging style.

    My creative writing project, on the other hand, is likely to remain in the garage phase for at least another year, as it is of a much bigger scale and requires me to develop a wide variety of skills almost from scratch.

    The garage phase as a period of experimentation

    The garage phase should in theory be really enjoyable, because it allows you to experiment wildly with your legacy project, without any fear of negative feedback from the outside world.

    And yet, with my first legacy projects I unfortunately only appreciated the enjoyable aspects of the garage phase only after exiting it. While in the middle of the garage phase, I’d be really impatient to make my project public and test things out in the real world.  The garage phase felt too much like wild speculations at times, without the means to have my ideas validated by a ‘real world’ audience.

    I’ve since learned to enjoy the garage phase a whole lot more, even though the impatience to get my project out into the world is still there to some degree. In particular, what I now enjoy most about the garage phase is the ability to fail time and time again, without any real-world consequences other than the knowledge that these failures will ultimately improve the quality of my legacy project when I do eventually take it out of the garage phase.

    Exiting the garage phase

    One word of caution: I do know people who never dare to take their legacy projects out of the garage phase. I think you can easily guess why this is the case: taking your project out of the garage phase makes you feel vulnerable and open to outside criticism. Don’t let your fear of vulnerability become a barrier to your legacy project gaining the feedback and recognition it deserves.

    Take your time and enjoy the garage phase, but do remember that it is what happens afterwards with your legacy project that will really enable you to create legacy. Be bold and share your legacy project with the world, once you are happy that it is as good as you can get it to be at this stage.

    What about you?

    Have you ever experienced the garage phase? What was the experience like? What are you most apprehensive about in relation to this phase? I’d love it if you would consider sharing your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

    Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, consider subscribing to receive new blog posts by email. Thanks for reading.


     

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  • Creating legacy: Enemies and allies

    ‘The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.’  Abraham Lincoln

    Creating legacy is in many ways about learning how to make the best of what you’ve got. This means identifying both your resources (defined broadly e.g. self-belief, time, specific skills, people) as well as the obstacles standing in your way.

    How to identify your ‘enemies and allies’ to creating legacy

    Here’s a little exercise that I hope will help you identify both in under 10 minutes. Take out two sheets of paper. On the first sheet of paper (which you could title ‘enemies’), write a list of all the things that make it difficult for you to create legacy. On the second sheet of paper, list all the things that are helpful to you in creating legacy. Be as broad as you like with both.

    In relation to the enemies list, make sure you list absolutely every single obstacle. You might not want to think of your children as ‘enemies’, but if having children makes it more difficult for you to create legacy, put ‘children’ on your list (of course, you might also want to put ‘children’ on your ‘allies’ list if you feel they also inspire you or give you a reason to think of leaving a legacy in the first place). What about your partner? Or your dog, needing the morning walk just at the time when you are settling in to work on your legacy project? Or the need to earn a living, maybe in a way that has nothing to do with creating legacy? Is your lack of self-respect a problem? Or those negative little voices in your head, telling you what you want to achieve just isn’t possible?

    Now to the ‘allies’ list – again, be as inclusive as possible. Is your determination to keep going an ally? What about the free child-care you can depend on from your extended family? Your understanding boss, perhaps? Your partner, when you need someone to confide in? Your touch-typing skills? Your large network of friends? Your very inspiring legacy project HQ? These are just a few ideas – what people identify as ‘allies’ varies just as much as what they identify as ‘enemies’.

    Taking the next step

    Of course, writing the two lists is just the first step. You now have to think about ways to circumvent some of the constraints imposed by your ‘enemies’, and increase the positive effect of your ‘allies’.

    Most of your ‘enemies’ cannot be eliminated completely (nor would you want to, in most cases e.g. children) – but you can find ways to neutralise their effect on your work towards creating legacy. If you have identified ‘children’ as ‘enemies’ in relation to creating legacy, for example, you might want to choose a legacy project HQ away from your home, so the children do not get in the way of you making progress on your project.

    Having just done the exercise again, I found myself putting ‘the Internet’ at the top of my ‘enemies’ list. This is because whenever I am sitting in front of the computer and having trouble with my writing, I tend to convince myself that I really need to google this and that, and then check Facebook etc. and before I know it I’ve lost half an hour of the time allocated to my legacy project with aimless internet procrastination.

    For all my talk of avoiding ‘busywork’, the one generated by the Internet is still there, eating into my legacy project time. Now that I have realised just what a powerful ‘enemy’ it is to my legacy work, I am thinking of ways to neutralise it – e.g. by turning the wireless button off while working on my project. A tough but necessary step.

    The nice part comes next: increasing the effect that your ‘allies’ have on your legacy work. If you find your legacy project HQ a source of progress, you might want to think of ways to improving its effect further, such as through making it really comfortable, decorating it nicely, and guarding it against any non-project-related junk. In my case, having something to nibble on while writing is an important ally, so I always make sure I have a pack of sunflower seeds or almost next to me as I’m working on my project.

    What about you?

    Are you surprised by any of the things you have written down, on any of the two lists? What other strategies have you found to make the most of what you’ve got in creating legacy? I’d love to read your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

    Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, consider subscribing to receive new blog posts by email. Thanks for reading.


     

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  • Legacy creators open themselves up to vulnerability

     ‘There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; there can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community.’  M. Scott Peck

     

    A couple of days ago, my acting coach Mark Westbrook published a short blog post about the importance of vulnerability for actors. As Mark says, ‘actors do in public what others do in private’ and for this they have to make themselves vulnerable.

    Vulnerability in creating legacy

    As I’m always obsessing about creating legacy, I immediately thought about how what Mark was saying also applies to legacy creators. Actors do in public what others do in private, Mark says. Legacy creators take action on what others only dare to dream about.

    Even with legacy projects that start in someone’s garage, the legacy creator eventually has to bring their project into the daylight for that project’s potential to be acknowledged and gather momentum. Once this is done, the legacy creator is in a hugely vulnerable position. 

    Vulnerability when making your legacy project public

    Despite years of testing in the comfort and privacy of the garage, there is no guarantee that the project will succeed once it is brought into the public domain. Or the other side of the coin is that the project might be judged as having such huge potential that others will immediately put a huge number of resources into copying and marketing it widely, leaving the legacy creator far behind after years of effort. Either way, the legacy creator is vulnerable to what the outside world will make of their creation. 

    Of course, some of the biggest fears that make legacy creators feel vulnerable is that others will simply laugh at them for bringing such a pitiful project into the world; that they will see the legacy creators as lacking in the ‘X factor’ necessary to turn their project into a success; that they will judge the legacy creator as lacking in common sense for putting so much effort into something that has no chance of survival. In other words, what legacy creators fear most is that negative judgements will be directed towards them, even more so than towards their project. 

    In fact, I’d venture to say that it is the feeling of vulnerability arising from the fear of being judged is the biggest reason why some legacy projects are never brought out of the garage, or sometimes are not even brought out of their legacy creators’ heads. They stay inside the mind like braincrack, festering in resentment and unexpressed fears, that often then lead to discouraging others from turning their pipeline dreams into reality.

    My own battle with vulnerability

    As I’m writing this, I’m realising that I’m writing like an ‘omniescent narrator’ rather than in first person about my own problems with vulnerability. The reason for this is that vulnerability is one of my own biggest hurdles in creating legacy (as well as in acting), and that I’m finding it difficult to write about my own personal experiences about feeling vulnerable in relation to my own legacy projects. 

    Even writing this blog post about vulnerability is a step forward for me, and making small steps towards accepting vulnerability into my life will eventually make it easier to conquer this particular hurdle.

    By the way, going to acting class is another way in which I am gradually becoming more accustomed to feelings of vulnerability. If you are struggling with vulnerability yourself, I’d highly recommend taking acting classes as a way to experience it in a safe environment. This will prepare you for when you will have to deal with vulnerability feelings when they arise as part of making your legacy project public.

    What about you?

    Do you have any personal experiences of feeling vulnerable you feel brave enough to share here? How are you dealing with feelings of vulnerability in your life? I’d love to read your thoughts, stories, and ideas in the comments section.

    Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, consider subscribing to receive new blog posts by email. Thanks for reading.


     

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  • Creating legacy through silence

     Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods.’  Ralph Waldo Emerson

    I’m not a happy bunny as I’m writing this. Over the past few days, starting with the day before the PhD viva, I’ve been having a really sore throat.

    The night before the PhD viva it got so painful that I started panicking that I would not be able to speak the next day. But in the morning, the adrenaline kicked in and I even managed to forget about my sore throat until after the viva was over. Yay for adrenaline!

    But the sore throat didn’t go away, and I stupidly kept on using my voice just as much as usual, trying to ignore the problem. And as a result – tonight I am so hoarse I can barely make myself understood.

    So I’m having to be completely silent. Tonight, all of tomorrow, and probably over the week-end as well. This is SO frustrating. I’ve had a really exciting day today, I’ve done a couple of things I’m really proud of in relation to one of my legacy goals, plus a few other interesting things have happened – and yet I can’t tell my partner about any of these things because my voice is gone.

    Well. Not quite. (And if you’ve been reading this blog post and wondering what any of this has got to do with creating legacy – here’s the missing link:) I may not be able to tell him verbally; but I can write about all the things that have happened today. And guess what? If I write these things down, I’ll be able to hold on to my writing for a good long while – whereas whatever I excitedly tell him will be forgotten really soon. By writing things down I am (in a tiny way) creating legacy.

    I remember my Mum always telling me the old Latin saying ‘verba volant, scripta manent’ (see Mum? I was listening after all :)) And the good old Romans were right, of course. I’m still really frustrated I can’t talk, and will probably have to keep stumm quite a bit over the next few days. And having to write it all down takes ages. But there is an upside – my inability to speak forces me to create legacy. There. I’ve said my piece for the day.

    What about you?

    Have you experienced losing your voice, and having to find other ways to communicate? How did you cope with having to be completely silent for a while? I’d love to read your thoughts and stories in the comments section.

    Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, consider subscribing to receive new blog posts by email. Thanks for reading.


     

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  • Creating legacy through establishing traditions

    ‘Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around.’  G.K.Chesterton

    Establishing a tradition during your lifetime, one that is likely to outlast you, is a particularly interesting way of creating legacy.

    I’m thinking about this of course because today is April Fools’ Day, a day when we are traditionally encouraged to be light-hearted and play pranks on others.

    The origins of April Fools’ day

    The origins of April Fools’ day are uncertain. Some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, while others believe it stems from the adoption of a new calendar.

    Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University, suggested that the practice began during the reign of Constantine, when a group of court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor that they could do a better job of running the empire. Constantine, amused, allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day, and the custom became an annual event.

    This explanation was brought to the public’s attention in an Associated Press article printed by many newspapers in 1983. There was only one catch: Boskin made the whole thing up. It took a couple of weeks for the AP to realize that they’d been victims of an April Fools’ joke themselves.

    Precedents of creating legacy through traditions

    Reading about Joseph Boskin’s prank got me thinking about how some of our traditions are in fact associated with particular people. Valentine’s Day, for example, has become part of the legacy of St. Valentine’s and celebrates romance. In Romania, the country where I come from, a few weeks before Christmas there is the celebration associated with the legacy of St. Nicholas and his generosity. The celebration consists of children getting sweets in their shoes (but only if they’ve been good; otherwise, they get sticks). Christmas and Easter are nowadays associated with the legacy of Jesus Christ. And of course, all the name days are part of the legacy of particular saints – real of imaginary.

    What would your tradition be?

    Nowadays, when there are so many savvy people in the ways of marketing, it should be particularly feasible to set up a particular tradition as a way of creating legacy. Which tradition would you like to establish during your lifetime? If there was a feast you could associate with your name, what would that feast be about? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

    Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, consider subscribing to receive new blog posts by email. Thanks for reading.


     

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  • How to do real work vs. busywork

    ‘When you write down your ideas you automatically focus your full attention on them. Few if any of us can write one thought and think another at the same time. Thus a pencil and paper make excellent concentration tools.’  Michel Leboeuf

    How to distinguish between real work and busywork

    When creating legacy, it is crucial that you focus your attention on doing ‘real’ work rather than ‘busywork’. By ‘real’ work I mean the work that will move your legacy project forward; by contrast, ‘busywork’ only makes you look busy but doesn’t actually lead to any measurable progress.

    The difficulty arises from our own perceptions of what ‘real work’ is. When working on a legacy project, for example, much of the ‘real work’ consists of thinking and planning, i.e. quietly sitting at your desk and maybe taking over an hour to only write down a couple of ideas on your workpad. Busywork, as the name suggests, would make you look busy – having meetings upon meetings with other people; sending and receiving hundreds of emails a day; drinking coffee till late into the night so you can fulfil all the promises to the people you’ve been meeting during the day.

    Not surprisingly, then, ‘real work’ doesn’t look at such to others – and worst of all, it may not look as such to you; whereas busywork does. Plus, all those meetings, emails, and coffees you have through busywork give you the feeling that you are being really efficient and energetic, when in fact you’re just running in circles like a headless chicken.

    Falling into the busywork trap

    The reason I know this is because I have fallen into the busywork trap countless times in the past. I remember a time when I was working on my Masters research project at Cardiff University, and ended up being roped into sitting on 6 different committees (for some of which I had to travel to London), teaching 5 classes on two different courses, editing two academic journals, organising two workshops, and countless other tasks that had nothing to do with my project.

    At the time I loved the buzz that all this flurry of activity gave me, but in hindsight all of this ended up adding a few long months to the length of my project, and didn’t actually teach me much I didn’t know before.

    How to keep yourself focused on real work

    So, if you’re overwhelmed by busywork and don’t know how to start focusing on real work, what should you do? Here are three really simple strategies you can start putting into practice right away: 

    1.) Write down on a piece of paper the kind of work that leads to measurable progress on your legacy project, and the kind of work that constitutes busywork. Keep that sheet of paper in full sight when working on your legacy project. Even just having the distinction clear in your mind will help tremendously.

    2.) When on the basis of the distinction you have established in 1.) you realise you are in the course of engaging in busywork, stop and give yourself at least five minutes to rethink what real work you should be doing instead; then write it down on a piece of paper; and then do it.

    3.) Follow the advice of Michel Lebeouf (the quote at the beginning of this blog post): get into the habit of writing down what you are going to do next before doing it. The simple act of writing something down gets you to consider whether you should really be doing it, because you are engaging your rational mind instead of following your impulses. If after writing it down it still feels like this is something that you need to do to move your project forward, then do it. If not, follow 2. )

    Over time, I have developed quite a battalion of other strategies to help me focused on doing real work rather than busywork – I will blog about them as time goes by; but I hope following 1.) – 3.) will help for now.

    What about you?

    How do you deal with real work vs. busywork? What strategies do you use to keep focused on the real work? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

    Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, consider subscribing to receive new blog posts by email. Thanks for reading.


     

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  • Celebrating a legacy milestone

     ‘The end of a melody is not its goal, and yet if a melody has not reached its end, it has not reached its goal.’  Friedrich Nietzsche

    Creating legacy milestones should be celebrated

    In creating legacy, it is important to acknowledge and celebrate legacy milestones; these are milestones we reach while completing a legacy project. This is one of the perks we get as legacy creators. And yet, all too often, legacy creators are also extremely driven people, who as soon as they reach one milestone immediately start work on reaching the next one. I know this because I’ve often done it myself, and I’ve seen other legacy creators do it. But no more.

    Celebrating my latest legacy milestone: Passing the PhD viva

    Today, I’m celebrating a big legacy milestone. I’ve passed my PhD viva yesterday afternoon. The viva is the way in which PhD theses are examined in the UK – the doctoral candidate has to defend their completed thesis in front of two examiners, both experts in the field.

    As you can imagine, passing the viva is perhaps the most important milestone in completing a PhD, because the PhD (taking three years or more to complete) only gets awarded if the viva is passed. While I was writing the PhD thesis, I was dreaming of this moment, when I’d pass the viva. Especially in the middle of the motivation slump, every day was such a huge battle with Resistance that I was constantly terrified of coming to a complete halt due to lack of motivation on the project. And the viva milestone was like a beacon in the foggy distance, calling out to me ‘come on, you can do it, you can reach me and then all your efforts will have been worth it.’

    Reaching legacy milestones can be emotional

    While writing the thesis, I expected to thoroughly look forward to the viva. And yet, the day before the viva, I was in tears that the PhD was coming to an end. And come to think of it, I was also really sad when it came to submitting the completed thesis – another huge legacy milestone in the process of completing a PhD project. But if reaching these milestones is so important, what generates all these negative feelings when reaching them? Especially after all the difficult parts of the legacy project, such as the motivation slump and the last 100 metres, you’d expect legacy creators to be jumping for joy upon reaching the end.

    Thinking about my own feelings related to the end of the PhD project, I’ve come to the conclusion that every legacy project is not just something abstract we are working on, but gradually becomes like a mentor. So reaching the milestones signalling the end of the legacy project is like having to part company with someone who has been at your side for years. Someone who, through putting you through all the trials and tribulations of the motivation slump and other difficult tests, has led you to change your outlook on life.

    The legacy project as a process of change

    Every legacy project has a profound effect on its legacy creator. Reaching the end is a celebration of that change, but also sometimes an acknowledgement that change has taken place.

    In my case, the day before the viva gave me an opportunity to reflect on all that had happened in my life by virtue of working on a PhD. And realising that largely due to the PhD, I’m a very different person now that I’ve finished this project than when I started it. It made me acknowledge that this huge project that I had been carrying around with me for the past few years, that I had hated so much at some point, had in fact been a benevolent guide who had only had my best interests at heart. And it was that realisation that made me so emotional. So long, old friend.

    What about you?

    Have you experienced the end of a legacy project? How did you feel about it? Share your thoughts and your story in the comments section.

    Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, consider subscribing to receive new blog posts by email. Thanks for reading.


     

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  • 7 ways to make yourself accountable

    ‘The ancient Romans had a tradition: whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: he stood under the arch.’   Michael Armstrong

    A few days ago, we were talking about why it is important to make yourself accountable for creating legacy. Here are 7 ways in which you can make yourself accountable:

    1. Tell others about your project.

    2. Put together a weekly routine sheet where you can tick off the tasks you worked on as you worked on them.

    3. Ask a friend to continuously remind you of your project, even if you do not want to hear about it.

    4. Measure your progress against a list you draw up at the beginning of the project. Revise the list as the project evolves.

    5. Pay fines to a friend for not reaching particular milestones. I know someone who pays a fine to a friend every time he is late to start his working day in the morning. Unfortunately, I am not that friend.

    6. Have certain ‘treats’ in place that you only give yourself when you have completed a milestone on your project (watching junk TV and chocolate work for me).

    7. Organise an event around your milestones (e.g. doing a talk on the subject of your project). This will give you a firm deadline for completing the milestone, otherwise the event cannot take place.

    How do you make yourself accountable? Share your ideas in the comments section.

    Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, consider subscribing to receive new blog posts by email. Thanks for reading.


     

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  • Your legacy project HQ

    ‘Find a working environment where the prospect of wrestling with your muse doesn’t scare you, doesn’t shut you down. It should make you want to be there, and once you find it, stick with it.’  Twyla Tharp

    How the legacy project HQ can help you create legacy

    When working on a legacy project, it is important that you find the right work environment for it. I call it the ‘legacy project head quarters’ (legacy project HQ) because this is where you will do most of the work related to that project.

    Of course, there will be other places apart from the HQ where you will do work on your legacy project. Ideas for legacy projects come in the most unexpected places and at the most unexpected times, and when that happens it is best if you are able to get right down to work regardless of where you are.

    But the reason having an HQ for your legacy project is important is that this is where you can do work on it even on days when you don’t feel like it, or when you don’t find any inspiration. By associating a particular place (the HQ) with a particular legacy project, being in that place will trigger your brain into producing something that will help you move the project along, regarless of how you are feeling that day. 

    How to find your legacy project HQ

    It is best if you find an HQ that is easily accessible to you, even at odd hours. For example, I have chosen my room as the HQ for this blog, and for all other the non-fiction legacy projects I’m working on. This is because I often need to work on my blog in the evenings, when it’s not such a good idea to be wandering the streets; and also because I prefer using my home computer when typing up my blog posts.

    For my creative writing legacy project, on the other hand, I usually go to a cafe that’s about 15 minutes walk from my flat. I always try to do all of my creative writing for the day before noon, so the cafe is perfectly accessible to me during the time I have allocated to that particular legacy project. And the reason I have chosen that particular cafe is because the 15 minutes walk is just long enough to get my brain into gear; they serve mocha and bacon rolls at a price I can afford, so I can have a really long leisurly breakfast while getting my writing done; and the cafe is very large and therefore I can nearly always find a seat by the window, where the light is best and from where I can inconspicuously watch people (both within the cafe itself and also those passing by the window) whenever I am struggling to find inspiration.

    As I hope this example illustrates, it’s not enough to find an HQ for your legacy project – you need to find the right HQ, one that suits the specific requirements of working on that particular project. In my case, the cafe wouldn’t be right as an HQ for writing my blog. Nor is my room ideal as an HQ for my creative writing – I’ve tried. Experimentation is a crucial part of finding your legacy project HQ, so allow yourself enough time for that. But once you have found your HQ, try to stick with it as much as possible. In the long run, this is where you will be able to make the most progress on your legacy project.

    What about your legacy project HQ?

    If you don’t already have a legacy project HQ, this week-end might be the perfect time to go hunt for one. It may be that you have the perfect HQ right there at your kitchen table, or in your study. But if that’s not the case, have a think about the requirements of working on your particular legacy project, and see if that can help you come up with suitabel options. Or just have a wander around the place where you live and see if there’s any place in particular that inspire you. I’ve just found another wonderful potential legacy project HQ today, as I was walking back from the cafe, simply because I paid more attention than usual to the places I normally walk by. See if you can spot somewhere that feels right for you, and let us know how you got on.

    Or maybe you already have a legacy project HQ? How did you go about finding it? I’d love to read your stories and thoughts in the comment section.

    Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, consider subscribing to receive new blog posts by email. Thanks for reading.


     

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  • Creating legacy is about what you do every day

     ‘The heights charm us, but the steps do not; with the mountain in our view we love to walk the plains.’  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

     Creating legacy is not about the big prize at the end

    Most people think of creating legacy in terms of the big picture: the published book; the gold medal; the finished building. After all – the big picture, the finished product, this is what the newspaper articles are all about. This is all we generally get to hear about creating legacy.

     Creating legacy is hard graft

    In the film Amadeus, director Milos Foreman showed us Amadeus at the height of his creative accomplishments. He didn’t show us how Mozart got to be Mozart. As Twyla Tharp, the choreographer for the movie notes, you wouldn’t have liked that picture. You would have been bored to watch a film about Mozart’s many years of practicing and composing under the watchful eye of his ambitious father, day by day, until by the age of twenty-eight, his hands were nearly deformed.

    But this is what creating legacy is about, in practice. Daily, boring, hard, graft. This doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Once you accept the idea that creating legacy is more about the small steps you take every day, rather than the big celebration at the end, you get to enjoy the small steps. As long as you understand that the award ceremonies and the hype usually only happen after you have created legacy, not during, and as long as you have picked a legacy project you want to complete regardless of success or failure, you’ll have a great time.  

     Creating legacy when you don’t feel like it

    The reason I’m thinking about these things is because I’ve been pushing myself really hard over the past few weeks, I’ve forgotten to take care of myself, and it’s starting to show. Yesterday, I had to cancel an appointment because of too much else going on. Then I got totally stuck in the middle of performing a scene during my acting class. And today I woke up feeling completely demotivated to do anything at all. Not good.

    My morning ritual (typing up my notes from yesterday) helped to get me out of bed and doing something productive. But after that I was so exhausted I was strongly tempted to go back to bed. I didn’t have any appointments until 4pm, so I could have done. And yet, I didn’t. Why? Because I hadn’t done my bit to create legacy today.

    So I got myself out of the house and into the cafe where I normally do my creative writing session every day. I started the session by writing in my diary that I felt so rough I didn’t think I could get any real work done, but I’d sit there for an hour anyway, regardless. One hour with nothing to do is boring – so not surprisingly, after about 10 minutes my brain got into gear, and I ended up writing about three pages in tight handwriting. Not bad at all for an hour’s work on a day such as this one.

    When I got back home, I felt totally exhausted, but victorious. I had done my bit on my creative writing legacy project. I made some phonecalls to organise the meetings for next week, then I ended up having to have a nap to shake some of the exhaustion off me. But now I’m back on my feet writing this blog post – i.e. working on my non-fiction legacy project. And in the afternoon, I’ve got three meetings, all related to another legacy project I’m planning to start in a couple of months. Such is the daily life of a legacy creator.

    This is not a usual day, in that I’m taking things a lot easier than usual. I could have bypassed the nap and gotten more work done. And I could have woken up earlier this morning. But this would have probably led me to being even more exhausted, and made it harder to keep going. Besides, how much work I got done today isn’t that important.  The important bit is that I have made some progress on each of my legacy projects, regardless of how demotivated I am feeling.

    So today, I’ve won the battle against Resistance. Tomorrow I might lose that battle, who knows? Every day is a new beginning. If I do lose the battle tomorrow, if the exhaustion I’m feeling gets the better of me, that’s okay. You’ve got to try to win as many battles as you can, but in the end it’s about winning the war, so I’ll be back on my horse the day after that.

    I also know I shouldn’t have pushed myself this hard. I’ve made a mistake, but I’m not going to let that stop me from keeping going, one small step at the time. Mistakes are good, as long as we learn from them. And sometimes, while working on legacy projects, it’s tempting to forget about your body’s needs, and to keep pushing through the pain. An easy mistake to make, and one that I’ll have to learn to avoid in the future.

    The reason I’m writing all this is because if you’ve got little experience of working on legacy projects, it’s only fair to warn you that the daily grind of creating legacy isn’t glamorous. Even if my legacy projects gather traction I won’t see the ‘big picture’ result for years to come – especially with my creative writing legacy project. But this is the real thing – not some hyped story of fame and fortune. If you want to create legacy, you need to understand and accept this. Don’t let the newspaper articles fool you into believing overnight success stories. Stick with the hard graft. And keep going.

     What about you?

    How are you creating legacy every day? Can you share any of the ways you use to make progress, even when feeling demotivated? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.  

    Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, consider subscribing to receive new blog posts by email. Thanks for reading.


     

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