I was finally able to track down a book I’ve been wanting to read for quite some time – Jon Acuff’s Quitter – and hunkered down to read it. If you don’t know Acuff, he came to prominence with his blog, Stuff Christians Like, and has turned his blog into a dream career of writing and speaking to people all over the country. Quitter is his second book as a member of Dave Ramsey’s Speakers Group, a collection of hand-picked communicators that work under the Dave Ramsey umbrella. Acuff is hysterical, thoughtful, and flat out good.
Acuff writes that his dream was to become an author and speaker who would share his insights with the world. He busted his butt putting in long hours to make SCL an immensely popular blog, and he continued busting his butt to make his dream come true. He wasn’t handed anything. He didn’t stumble upon dumb luck. He didn’t steal someone else’s idea and ride it fame. If you take five minutes you’ll see that everything he’s received has been a response to his hustle (a word he calls “a core element holding this entire book together”).
So, what does this praise mean? That he earned his dream. And upon reading his story, I realized he’d earned mine too.
Well, not exactly my dream. My dream is more about helping people understand that God is present in even the most mundane moments of everyday life (thus the title and focus of this blog). But in a broader sense, of being able to write and speaker and have your words motivate and inspire people, he got where I want to be. And reading his book, I felt like I could get there too.
Part of the book’s focus is encouraging dreamers to stick with their day jobs, especially since their day jobs can offer the stability needed when you want to launch a dream. Acuff does a great job of teaching his readers “how to fall in like with a job you don’t love” and seeing their present circumstances not as barriers to, but buttresses of, their dream job.
In practical terms, my job couldn’t be better for what I want to accomplish. I get to practice my content development, speaking, interpersonal relationship skills, writing, editing, and a host of other skills necessary to become a published author/speaker every week. I get to find my voice and develop my skill at reaching people with the message that beats within my heart.
So I’m 80% of the way there.
Where I get bogged down, and where Acuff’s book helped me tremendously, was the area of procrastinating perfectionism. I like things to be done as well as I can do them. And whenever I encounter situations that don’t allow for me to meet my dreamer standards, I tend to pull back and do nothing because it won’t be as good as it could be. Acuff challenges that notion with words that really cut me to the core: “90 percent perfect and shared with the world always changes more lives than 100 percent perfect and stuck in your head.” Stuff that’s better than average and shared beats stuff I’m endlessly trying to perfect and keeping on my laptop.
That moved me in such a deep way, because I’m often afraid that what I have to offer isn’t good enough, despite the fact that my career as of late tells me otherwise. I fall prey to the illusion that I’m not successful enough because I don’t have a book deal (or a book, for that matter), endless speaking engagements, and thousands of visitors to my blog everyday. Honestly, part of me read Jon Acuff’s story and thought, “That will never happen for me.”
But another part, a louder part, said, “Actually, it might. But you have to want it bad enough.”
I’ve flirted with the idea of writing for the longest time. I started this blog as a way to build my confidence, sharpen my skills and – let’s be honest – get vital feedback/confirmation that what I believed to be a talent really was something special. Did I expect people to flock to the blog? No. Did I hope like crazy that it would happen? Heck yes. Has it? No. But over the past few months, things have steadily progressed to the point that I need to commit myself to making my dream happen.
So, I’ve got the book part in mind (I’m not going to spill anything here, in order to keep the content separate in my mind) but I’m going to need some suggestions/help on how to go about getting speaking opportunities. I have no clue. In fact, I was so lost for ideas that I actually emailed Jon Acuff.
Dude – sorry for suddenly turning into your stalker. Seriously.
So if you have some ideas, or if your grandfather’s 3 person men’s group is in need of a speaker for their annual men’s conference in Neverheardofhere, Mississippi, feel free to comment below. I’m looking to dream big in 2013 – and act bigger.