Work Like You

Draw close, my dears, and listen to the story of how it all began.
(With endless gratitude to Roald Dahl, Monty Python, and most of all to The Princess Bride.)

Once upon a time, there was a newly-graduated coach, excited and nervous about starting her business.

She’d heard from many experienced coaches about the dangers of perfectionism, about a thing called “compare and despair”, about “analysis paralysis”.

She knew she was highly prone to those things. But she really, REALLY wanted this business to come to life, to bloom in the world the way it did in her heart and her imagination. She was determined not to be drawn off the path into the Swamp Of Just One More Tweak, or fall into the Pit Of I’ll Never Be That Good, or get lost in the Maze Of Too-Many-Choices-My-Brain-Just-Exploded – all those places she’d heard dreadful tales about.

She picked her way forward, in fits and starts, but always alert for those dangers. She created her own website, chanting all the while under her breath, “Done is beautiful. Done is better than perfect. Good enough is good enough.” She winced as she pushed “publish”, her mind racing through a list of all the mistakes and imperfections, but she did it. And people thought it was okay, or even liked it. She got clients (though not many from the website) and when she did they told other people about her.

Eventually she started charging for her work, and she stumbled through setting up a payment system so she could take that money from people happy to give it to her. She discovered how much time a five-email sequence actually takes when scheduling a session (especially when you have several clients at once!) and after taking a deep breath, she set about finding a scheduling system her clients could use.

Then her clients hated that one, after she had it all set up and customized and paid for.

She learned, once again, that vigorous bouts of creative swearing provide excellent fertilization for a growing business.

Then she found a new scheduling system and set that one up. Thankfully her clients liked that one a lot better. This one could connect to her payment system, so she did that. And her personal calendar, which was ever so helpful, so she did that. And she kept doing her work, and her clients were happy, and her calendar started filling in.

Without noticing, she’d begun to climb the Foothills Of Hey I Think This Might Be Working.

At one point she looked around and realized she could see back down to the green meadow she’d started from, a little bit below and a ways farther back….and there was a crowd of people, milling around or sitting dejectedly off to one side.

Her eye ran along the path, and saw that the Maze Of Too-Many-Choices-My-Brain-Just-Exploded was full of tiny figures hesitantly wandering this way and that, then turning back again, or simply walking in circles. Some were lying motionless on the ground.

The sound of wailing caught her ear, and she stared in horror as a stream of people teetered, threw up their hands in despair, and crumpled into the Pit Of I’ll Never Be That Good. The flames roared up after each one.

The Swamp of Just One More Tweak simply looked like a bowl of ants covered in chocolate sauce.

She was bewildered, frustrated, and heartbroken for all those people, some she’d walked alongside out of that green meadow. She shouted and waved to get their attention, and some looked up. She jumped up and down, pointed with wild arm motions, and called instructions until she was hoarse. Up the road, she saw others with megaphones and bright search lights, trying to guide the masses of people past the swamps and pits and tricky dead ends. Sometimes it seemed to help, her gestures or theirs, it was hard to tell. But she wanted more.

What if, she thought, I could build a raft that people could pole across the Swamp? And run a thread through the Maze to guide them through it? (There were many ways out, but she could at least show them the way she found.) And what if they could be given sturdy boots and fireproofed (or at least given a bit of Teflon) and that would protect them from the worst flames of the Pit until they got past it?

She couldn’t do the work for them. And they still had to help out along the way – it wasn’t a Full Knightly Rescue; more of a Friendly And Wise Native-Guide-Assisted Journey. Plus, helping them past the Maze, the Pit, and the Swamp was only going to get them to the base of the mountains – there was no way to make it up the Foothills Of Hey I Think This Might Be Working without actually climbing, and only they could do that.

But if they never made it that far, they were never going to find out. There were still snakes, and weather, and needing enough rations, and all that sort of thing. But if she could get them past the biggest dangers, they’d have a better chance.

She shouted up the road to some of the people with searchlights and megaphones. They nodded and smiled and made big arm motions that said, “Go! Do it! Please! Soon!” They shouted a few good bits of advice back. She kept working, and kept thinking. Eventually some trusty companions joined her course, and she shared her desire to somehow, some way, get those people past the worst of the dangers between the meadow and the hills.

They shouted and danced around and said, “When do we start?”

And so they began.

Their adventure turned out to have its own dangers and obstacles, like The Sudden Sinkhole Of Oh Shit They Don’t Like It, or the Brambles Of Damn We Didn’t Think Of That, and the disturbing question of Um, Did We Bring Enough Rations? They argued and helped each other over streams and logs and argued some more. They learned who did what parts best, and began to see who should lead the party at each type of terrain.

As of this telling, my dears, our adventurers are scratched and weathered but rafts have been built, threads have been threaded, and boots and firesuits have been issued. And some weary and dispirited travelers have looked up, hope dawning across their faces, and said, “I’d like to try that, because this sure isn’t working.”

And so the adventure continues.

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