Why you can’t get started: you’re trying to start too big

People tell me about their big dreams, the big goals and the compelling vision for where they want to end up. We talk about what is holding them back. Often they can’t get started on it because it’s too big. 

A woman in Kansas can picture her dream so clearly: a community dinner that shuts down the whole main street, with everyone in town sitting down to eat together. It’s a great dream, and I love it. It will help her Gather Her Crowd by sharing it. But she hasn’t done anything more than tell people about it because she can’t see how she’ll make the whole thing work in one big jump. 

Want to have a community dinner that shuts down the whole Main Street? Start with two card tables on the sidewalk and just a few friends. 

This is Take Small Steps. It’s an essential part of the Idea Friendly method. You Gather Your Crowd with the big idea, but you make the idea happen when you and the crowd Take Small Steps. 

A banker who heard me share the story of the village of tiny businesses based in garden sheds emailed me a couple of days later, a little worried about whether it would work in his town. How would they attract enough vendors? Would they have enough customers to make it feasible? I don’t blame a banker for wanting to know if it’s feasible before they start on it, but this is Idea Friendly territory. We do small tests to find out what’s feasible. Start with tents. Start with card tables. Start for a weekend and see what happens.

When you start small, you don’t have to ask or worry “Will this work?” You’ll find out if it will work by doing a tiny experiment. 

What ever your idea is, start smaller. Even smaller than you think possible. 

In Washington, a young man wanted to paint a blank outside wall of a building in chalkboard paint to do a cool question of the day interactive thing. You know, where you post a question like, “What would you like to see downtown?” or, “What do you dream about?” and let everyone who walks by add their own answers in chalk. Great project. Fun and interactive. I’m all for it. How could you Take Small Steps towards it? He works at the community theater, so I suggested he start with small chalkboard panels just leaned up outside the building. Put the question of the day on those, and start building up interest in the project. Then you can keep taking steps towards a major building-sized project. 

Same for the 3 day Lego build a young man mentioned in Idaho. He wants to see a huge epic scale castle or something built with Legos in the middle of the downtown. Which is an exciting goal. How can he Take Small Steps? A woman in the room answered that. Start with friends in the park for an afternoon build of something much smaller, she said. Ask people to donate their old Legos they hate to throw out, she said, admitting that she had quite a few she’d love to get out of her house. 

It’s OK to see the big picture, but don’t try to start there. Use your big dream to draw people to you and Gather Your Crowd. Then you and the crowd can Take Small Steps to make the dream happen. 

Keep shaping the future of your town,

PS –  Ready to build possibility in your town? That’s Deb’s signature topic, and it’s our next webinar, Sept 26-Oct 9. Join us in Building Possibility