“Do you know how old I’ll be by the time I learn to play the piano?” bemoaned the frustrated middle-aged novice. “The same age you will be if you don’t,” her teacher responded.
Over lunch this past week I had the privilege of listening to an old friend and former colleague describe the success she was achieving in her new sales career. Want to know her secret? It all began with her willingness to work on leads no one else would pursue, prospects considered too small to be worthwhile. What others thought to be a waste of time, you see, my friend saw as opportunity. Soon she became the top salesperson in her office in terms of opening new accounts, which led to more referrals and bigger accounts until – as my friend explained with a big smile – she landed what she referred to as a “whale”.
People who get work are the ones who work – whether they are “working” or not. Or as Julia Cameron puts it in her book The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, “What I am saying is that work begets work. Small actions lead us to the larger movements in our creative lives.”
My friend got work (translated, business) because she worked – even when she had no work (translated, business). Work begets work. Same holds true for the middle-aged piano student who may one day discover that practicing scales and playing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, which seemed small and trivial at the time, were the very disciplines that led to her mastery of some of the great works by Chopin, Beethoven, or Mozart.
Most of the time the next right thing is something small: Going back to school, starting over as low-man-on-the-totem-pole in a new career, taking piano lessons in mid-life – or working the small leads no one else considers worthwhile like my friend has done.
So what can you do – right now – what steps can you take in your life that will get you started on the road to that new success or skill? Never mind that it may seem small, just go do that next right thing, be patient, and see what happens.