Getting Started Is Hard

Trash Can

Sometimes getting started is hard. When these times come, the real heroes are the ones who get up and take a step forward anyway. What direction they go, or how far they go, or how fast they go does not matter. The important thing is that they make the initial move. Starting to move is always harder than keeping the momentum going.

Many things can get in our way of that first step. Whether it is a physical problem or a mental block does not really matter. The seeming inability to get started, always feels the same.

There is a trick I used to teach my team when anger, fear, resentment, or other problems blocked a path to moving in positive directions. This is something that I have used and seen work, and I’ll share with you now.

I used to supervise an assembly team for computers and servers. Whenever grumblings, complaints, or other items that detracted from our ability to work would show up, I would take everybody into a conference room. I would explain to them that they were all outstanding workers and yet we had some concerns about actually getting the job done and doing it right. And then I would put a trash can in the middle of the conference table with an entire team of up to 27 people sitting around the table.

I would look at the trashcan and look at the people. And I would explain to them that we were carrying things we absolutely did not need, and these items hurt our ability to build. The elements of this pain were the contrary ideas we had.  The thoughts were also destroying our ability to have a fun and productive shift.

I then had everybody take their hands and wind-up all their negative feelings in a ball. They wound up all the petty problems, all the trivial concerns that were preventing them from having a fun and productive shift.

I would have them take this imaginary ball that they had built with their own hands, smooshing it together as tight as possible so nothing would get loose. And, I would have them throw that ball into the trashcan. With the concerns now on the trashcan, I explained to them some of the good things that they had done in the past, and some of the great things they were capable of in the future. Then I explained we were going to go back to work. I said to them that no one was to reach in the trashcan on the way out and take their ball back out with them.

This actually does work. It is a physical moment in which people can clear their mind, leave troubles behind, and actually go forth to do great things. You don’t have to have a team of 27 people to do this. You can do this by yourself. Just set the trashcan on your desk or in the center of the room.  Get all those disturbances which are blocking you from doing what you want to do out of your head, and into the trashcan.  Sometimes, it’s even reasonable to take the trashcan out the back door and empty it.

Have a great day. Please do not pick up any imaginary problem balls on your way out.

Author: Mike Balof

Mike Balof, MEd, develops intensive, interactive courses which have helped contract manufacturing and nonprofit institutions. He taught youth and adults seeking employment to better represent themselves, leading many of them to successful careers. Mike taught in corporate training, teaching adults and high school students to build computers, work as a team, and to identify and fix problems using a myriad of tools from Total Quality Management(TQM), to 8-D, to Six Sigma. Mike now turns his talents to helping fellow veterans reach their objectives and desires through continuous performance improvement. As we start to live in a post knowledge world, where a doubling of common knowledge shrinks from months to days, our essential skills will include how we interact with those around us. Mike believes there is hope for growth and opportunity for everyone. Everyone has the opportunity to retool and find the career they want. Mike strives to present students of all ages, abilities, and means with a full plate of options for learning.

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