by Travis Hellstrom
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness concerning all acts of initiative and creation. There is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans; that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen events, meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would have come their way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: ‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now!’” - W.H. Murray
Tal Ben-Shahar shares this quote in his book Happier, which I love.
The quote is a wonderful reminder to anyone who is dreaming of beginning something.
Tal also shares this passage in his book,
“In 1879 Thomas Edison announced that he would publicly display the electric lightbulb by December 31, even though all his experiments had, to that point, failed. He threw his knapsack over the brick wall—the numerous challenges that he still faced—and on the last day of that year, there was light. In 1962, when John F. Kennedy declared to the world that the United States was going to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade, some of the metals necessary for the journey had not yet been invented, and the technology required for completing the journey was not available. But he threw his—and NASA’s—knapsack over the brick wall. Though making a verbal commitment, no matter how bold and how inspiring, does not ensure that we reach our destination, it does enhance the likelihood of success.”
I love that image, of throwing a knapsack over the wall. Tossing your backpack over the fence. There’s no going back now.
It’s a wonderful mental image for me. I know there are things I need to do in my life, but sometimes I walk up and down the fence. I talk about the fence. I sit down beside it and debate going over.
The boldness that Goethe talks about and the genius, power and magic that follows it. That’s what I need. That’s what I will do.
It’s time to jump the fence.
Three Ways to Begin
Here are three things that I know work for me:
- Meditate. When I sit down and meditate, even for two minutes, it makes a difference. It helps me focus and remind myself of what’s important. It’s been years since I’ve meditated for hours a day, but length of time doesn’t matter as much as consistency does. No excuses. I can meditate anywhere, anytime.
- Turn Off the Internet. I am most creative and productive when I don’t check email or even open up the internet browser. I make it a rule that I can’t open email or social media until I do my most important creative act of the day (writing, recording, reading, researching, whatever). Decide what you need to do to have a great day and do that before you do any other stuff.
- Practice Gratitude. Write an email thanking someone. I know I just said don’t use email, this is right after you finish your creative act. Or write it in a document and send it later. Write a real thank you note. Call someone to tell them how important they are to you. Write 5 things you are grateful for every night. The people I know who do this are seriously way happier than people I know who don’t.
Whatever it is you are thinking of beginning, please do.