Avoiding One Great Temptation Every New Dream Faces

This is a guest post by Jon Acuff, the author of Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job. He is also the author of Stuff Christians Like. He is a blogger and active on Twitter and Facebook. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

A month ago I was on the radio with Dave Ramsey. And I was terrified.

Two Runners, One Ahead of the Other - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Squaredpixels, Image #13951814

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Squaredpixels

Not because of him. He’s an incredibly kind interviewer, warm and funny and gregarious in person. It wasn’t the subject matter that had me scared. We were talking about my new book Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job. I love to talk about that. So why was I so sweaty, nervous and awkward during the interview?

I stink at being on the radio.

Although I love public speaking, the radio is a completely different animal. There might be millions of people listening—and in Dave’s case there are—but, in that room, it’s just me and him. There’s no audience to react to, no crowd energy to bounce around with, no playground of a stage to soar around on.

So I freeze. I choke up. I go way beyond the “Red Zone protection” the Old Spice Guy has assured me would make me as cool as the Matterhorn in such moments.

After our segment, I talked to Blake, Dave’s producer, and said, “I don’t know how he does it every day. He’s like Michael Jordan in there. Unbelievable. That’s hard!” Without even swiveling in his chair, Blake dropped a bomb on me:

“True, but remember, you’re seeing 17 years of practice and hard work and mastery.”

I wanted to hug Blake in that moment, but it’s awkward to hug people when they’re seated and you’re standing. It never goes well. So instead I thought I would tell you the principle I heard in Blake’s comment:

“Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”

One of the great temptations for us as leaders and dreamers is to compare the start of our new adventures to the middle of someone else’s. You work on your first book and pick up Max Lucado’s 14th book and say, “Mine isn’t as good.” You post your first blog post and look at Michael Hyatt’s 100th and think, “Mine is nowhere near as great as that.” You give your first speech and watch Ken Robinson’s 1,000th at TED and think, “I’m not great like that.”

It’s true. You’re not. Yet.

This is just your beginning. Give yourself the gift of time. Love your dream and your adventure enough to allow it to grow slowly. Don’t be like me, sitting sweaty in a radio chair across from Dave Ramsey, beating yourself up and saying, “I’m nowhere near as good at being on the radio as he is.”

Of course I’m not! He’s been doing it for 17 years, and I’ve been on his show twice. I’m just getting my start, and maybe you are too. Go slow. Get better over time. And never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.

I gave away 50 copies of Quitter. To qualify, my readers had to comment below. You can find the list of winners here.
Question: Have you ever felt doubtful about beginning a new dream or adventure? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://twitter.com/BBFULLife Adrienne

     I’m a freelance writer, graduating and just starting out, I need this book! 

  • FCGM_One

    Absolutely. Twelve years ago, God was leading us to begin a new ministry. Since I had just retired for medical reasons and moved to the mountains to relax, I was sure I was hearing wrong.

    But all these years and seven countries later, I am still amazed that God always knows what He is doing.

  • Aj Luck

    Jon- I feel doubtful every time i make a step towards my dream. Fear has stifled me for years but everyday I try to depend more on God and less on me to accomplish the dreams He has given me. Its a breaking process and I wont lie- sometimes it really stinks, but I know it will all be worth it one day-
    Great post!!
    Aj Luck

  • NHunter

     I am really struggling with making the leap from public education to church planting.  The struggle is knowing that it might take 17 years to get to a point where I am not overworked, wife isn’t missing me, kids look at me askance, and I sound like I know what I am talking about.  Especially when I have students hearing the Gospel for the 1st time and I’m well-respected, established, very good at my job, and doing what I dreamed of doing since I was in high school.  

    You don’t hear too much from beginning church planters that get you excited about starting a new church in a new town with a new(ish) family that is encouraging.  If it weren’t for the whole internal and external calling issue, I’d re-up for another year, no questions asked.

  • http://twitter.com/promobrain Mike Freestone

    I surely have thought that before, but then I realize that anything is possible!  My favorite quote from a clients office:  “You can’t steal second until you get your foot off first”  is a constant reminder that we have to take chances and their will be times when we are unsure of the destination, but I know that God is always with me and that is a wonderful comfort during times of uncertainty…especially when starting on a new dream or adventure.

  • Eskrima2

    Absolutely…especially now that I am older…61 years old!   Many things come to mind that I would have like to have done in my younger days, but didn’t because of all the doubts.  My doubts, though, have changed with age.

  • http://twitter.com/ChrisBranscome Chris Branscome

    Jon, thank you for this post, and for writing this book.  There are a lot of people saying “someday, I’m going to…..” and I’m one of them.  I’m trying to shorten the distance between now and someday, but as you’ve pointed out, it’s difficult.  For me, it’s music, and it’s hard not to try to compare my music to John William’s and see how short I fall.  I keep trying to remind myself that I’m just starting, and it’s good to hear people who are living in the “someday” saying the same thing.

  • Stephen

     I once had a dream to become a quilter. I had to give it up because I come from a family of cross-stichters. In all honesty, I studied to hold what I thought would be a life of ministry and found myself very unsure about everything. I still have the dream, it’s just now cloaked in uncertainty. 

  • http://twitter.com/akaLINDALICIOUS linda e. paek

    Question:  “Have you ever felt doubtful about beginning a new dream or adventure?”  (um…stopped breathing for a second and palms got clammy)I cannot even begin to answer this question right now…because I am quite viscerally aware at this moment that I have been just going through life one day after the other as if there is no dream or adventure anymore.  In fact, I am uncomfortably confronted that I have allowed a slow and spiraling decline to gone on inside of me.  How did I get here?!

    I have spent most of my adult life helping others start and continue pursuing their dreams and adventures…offering encouragement, prayer, cheering from the sidelines, coaching from inside the safe huddle of my home, fielding phone calls/emails/facebook messages, feeding bellies, and reminding them who God is and that He is the Author of those desires.  And somewhere along the way (soberingly realizing today that), I lost my own way.

    So – to answer the question…yes, I now see that any doubt I had about my dreams have gotten stifled (silenced, buried, neglected, etc.) by my own weariness of waiting, laziness (aka – lack of hustle), embarrassment, and thinking helping others was good enough.  (I can’t believe I just wrote that, btw.)

  • http://twitter.com/akaLINDALICIOUS linda e. paek

     
    Question:  “Have you ever felt doubtful about beginning a new dream or adventure?”  (um…stopped breathing for a second and palms got clammy)I cannot even begin to answer this question right now…because I am quite viscerally aware at this moment that I have been just going through life one day after the other as if there is no dream or adventure anymore.  In fact, I am uncomfortably confronted that I have allowed a slow and spiraling decline to gone on inside of me.  How did I get here?!
     
    I have spent most of my adult life helping others start and continue pursuing their dreams and adventures…offering encouragement, prayer, cheering from the sidelines, coaching from inside the safe huddle of my home, fielding phone calls/emails/facebook messages, feeding bellies, and reminding them who God is and that He is the Author of those desires.  And somewhere along the way (soberingly realizing today that), I lost my own way.
     
    So – to answer the question…yes, I now see that the doubt that festered has stifled (silenced, buried, neglected, etc.) my dreams and passion for a life of adventure.  The doubt has sprouted, grown, and has produced the “fruit” of weariness from waiting, laziness (aka – lack of hustle), lack of focus, fear of even asking anymore, embarrassment, and thinking helping others was good enough.  (I can’t believe I just wrote that, btw.) 

  • Sylvia M. Mack

    Very much so! I am right now going through starting my own business vs working prn at the job I have now.  I know I am to start my own business, as a matter of fact, I have gotten the name & tax ID #, but am slow with going any further. Things at the present job are daily not so comfortable at all-the tiniest of things seem so out of order whereas before things were manageable and “peaceful” in my heart. Now I feel a tug to leave, but I seem to have an invisible glass wall that I can’t get or better yet just go through. I know it’s God, I had a confirming word 3 yrs ago from a visiting minister as well as from my own Pastor. So here I am, needing to crossover to this dream that God has given me to do.  SMMack, L’ton, NC

  • Anonymous

    I am scared to death of a new beginning. Somewhere near mid- life I began seminary. I am a middle-aged woman with adult kids and an equally middle-aged husband who is quite happy that wife brings home (a lot) more money than he does. I tried to do a soft transition, i.e. work in a paid position for a Christian organization, but I am thinking more and more I need to step out on my own. It is really scary, and it is a test both of faith and determination.

  • http://twitter.com/MShiverLPC Margaret Shiver

    Of course I’ve felt doubtful about beginning a new dream.  I’m in it right now.  I’ve always thought being a counselor was my “dream”, but I’m finding myself searching for something more.  The scary part most of us face is how can we just up and quit our job without have the financial security of something else.  I know what ”lights me up” and gets me excited.  It happens every now and then, but it’s not my every day job.  I know there is something more out there…. 

  • Annette Witte

    Have I ever felt doubtful about beginning a new dream or adventure? YES. I am in the process of transitioning into life and ministry with Young Life in Guatemala – I came from an established area in the Midwest. People heard of YL and said “I’m in.” I had community and a place, but I knew God was inviting me into a new adventure. So here I am. At times when I’m driving around Guatemala City the doubt creeps in and I ask “where am I and how did I get here?” In those moments I (cry) take a step back, look at the bigger picture of what God is doing, and step into the doubts in order to see God working!

  • linda

     i am on disability with chronic pain. your book is an inspiration to me to never quit.

  • http://www.excitingbooks4kids.com Natasha~M

    Good Talk! 

  • Anita

    Great advice. I am right now editing a manuscript from the guys at http://www.FireYourExcuses.com, and _Quitter_ sounds like wonderful reinforcement along a similar line. Self-knowledge isn’t self-centeredness; it’s a tool toward becoming the person God created you to be. Yay!

  • http://www.BackToPaper.com Linda Tieu

    Definitely something we need to be reminded of…every so often… “Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” 

  • Jeanette Sullivan

    Wow! Thanks for this advise. I wrote my first book, Becoming a Relevant Christian, and had it published in December, and things are just not going the way I had envisioned. I knew I had a good subject because God gave it to me, and I knew He was involved in  it every step of the way because I simply am not capable of such a feat, so naturally I thought it would sell 100,000 copies the first six months. NOT!!! I look at people like David Platt who’s first book was a best seller, and wonder why I can’t do that. But he’s been doing what he does for a while. So from this article I can see that I just need to keep writing and keep believing that one day I will be a successful writer and author and know that God will bless the efforts and fulfill His plan in my life. Again, thank you!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Congratulations. You are normal! ;-)

      My first book was a NYT bestseller. I thought everyone would be. However, nothing sold as well as my first book—even though I had goals. But they sold way better than they would have without goals. That’s the important take-away for me.

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  • http://sevensentences.com Geoff Talbot

    Great article… The trouble with goals is that when we don’t achieve them we can get angry with the goal itself. But without the goal we would never have embarked on this great and wonderful journey.

    My goals have stretched me beyond myself, taken me on a journey more incredible than I could have imagined. It’s safe to say that in 9 years of trying I have not reached any of the major goals yet… but I believe I will.

    In any case… the journey into faith (Our internal story) is far greater and more important than the external one (our goals).

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  • steve

    One other really bad tempatation every dream faces is the temptation to procrastinate the start, then the dream stays just a dream.
    steve @ want ex back

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  • Lee

    I shared the same with one of my friends when he talked about my work on his website. He said, “man, its amazing what you can do on the website. I could never do that stuff.” I replied, “its not amazing. Its practice… 14 years of it.” He can do things when building a home that amaze me. It comes down to what you do every day and where you are in the learning cycle.