The problem with digging ditches is that after a while, the work gets predictably monotonous. The euphoria of the initial excitement wears off, and the real work reluctantly begins. Our dreams begin to fade and they are not as sprightly as they were when we started. Our dreams turn a little more reserved. They regress from us and become a part of the distant horizon. They refuse to come when we call them. They call to us.
We need to remind ourselves, that with persistence, we will eventually get to where we want to be.
How long will it take? I don’t know. I can only hesitate to guess.
But we cannot let the temporary darkness shape our reality. We cannot let the hopelessness we perceive, guide to our cautious and fragile steps. When we find ourselves in the fog of monotony, and we certainly will, looking at the futility of all our half-dug ditches, we will be bewildered and discouraged by our lack of progress.
We need to remember that instead of being tempted to giving up, we just need a little more time.
This is not a time to quit. It's a time to keep working. To keep digging.
Remember that work is not the enemy. Work is not a burden. It’s how we earn our dreams.
Never complain about slinging the shovel into the ground. It is a privilege to sweat and toil. There is a reason they call this the untraveled path.
Have faith that with each shovelful, you will get closer. It is not lost on me that each thrust of dirt accounts for only a tiny grain of sand in the hourglass, but where else do we have to be anyway? What else do we have to do?
I am late to the party. At forty-four years old, this feels strange. It feels like I’m a shade too old and I’ve heard all of this before. But there is a difference. What's new is the reawakened and powerful entrepreneurial spirit that burns deep inside my soul.
I am going through a metamorphosis. A transformation. A rebirth and realignment of my creative energy. That and I’m digging some big-ass ditches.
Those of us who are lucky to have full-time jobs, face a unique entrepreneurial affliction. We are faced with a dichotomy. We stand ready to realize what we have always wanted, but are held back by our commitments to spend the best and most productive hours of our day, working for someone else.
It gets worse.
If you’re are like me, this affliction is further complicated by the fact that I find my professional vocation extremely rewarding and fulfilling.
I am not in the least tired or exhausted, teaching young minds. Quite the opposite. I find their energy contagious and they might likely be the reason for my new spirit and direction.
I have looked through many books and inquired about several academic programs that would cover the subject. I am trying to find something that would somehow bridge the gap from one profession to another, but I have learned that if you’re like me, there is relatively nothing.
We have fallen into a gap; a neglected void.
It is one of the reasons why I started writing my thoughts here in the first place. I can’t imagine that I am alone. I can’t imagine being the only working stiff who faces this struggle.
Part of the problem I have been able to identify is how little time there seems to be. There is not much time to do anything. It is almost impossible to sustain any momentum. Like a comet, time disappears and circles back at its own pace.
There are no books, empowerment groups, or specific business seminars, that accommodate or seem sensitive to our lives, or our work schedules.
Trust me. I’ve looked. I looked again. I haven't stopped looking, and will look again tomorrow.
There seems to be plenty of help for two types of entrepreneurs. They are the kind of person that is either without a job and ready to start their business today, or they are willing to quit their job and ready start their business tomorrow. But what about all the rest of us? Who is going to lead the rest of us that find ourselves in between?
It doesn’t really change anything.
No one is leaving their post. We'll continue pounding the dirt. There is work to be done. The ditch is not going to dig itself.
Finding time is the struggle.
Stealing time is probably a more appropriate way to describe it, but words like borrowing and negotiating, are quite suitable as well.
But where in our lives can we borrow, negotiate, or steal more time?
That is the question, isn’t it?
Are you willing to ignore your wife or husband? Neglect your children? Are you going to cut corners and become less productive at work?
I hope not.
There needs to be another way. A way to find an hour or two, here and there, in spurts and bursts, so we can keep our momentum going in the right direction.
We need to steal time from somewhere, but where and at what cost?
Time is limited.
If we steal time, we need to know where we are taking it from, or we will find ourselves burning our dreams, or digging an early grave. I guess a grave is technically still a ditch, but a ditch we probably don’t want to gaze upon quite so quickly.
I have given this a lot thought lately and I decided to lead and create something concrete and tangible. Flawed it may be, but it’s a start. A way to begin to understand what we face, and how we can help each other.
In short, I have developed time system.
I call it; the Hierarchy of Stealing Time.
It is a touch crude but optimistically universal.
I think we all need to be honest with ourselves. The Hierarchy of Stealing Time will help us count the cost. I hope it is the beginning of something. Time will tell.
Your life is unique, and your contribution really matters.
You have your own history. You have many talents and unbelievable gifts, along with a host of failures, regrets, wants, needs, and desires.
Your uniqueness is without question. It is time to share it.
I hope the Hierarchy of Stealing Time provides you an interesting perspective in terms of why it is so difficult to move our dreams forward and gain momentum. I hope I managed to unpack the universal principles and struggles that we face.
None of what I have written can be called original. It is definitely borrowed from here and there. I am not the first, and won’t be the last to think of these things. I may not even be that smartest.
What I am however, is foolish enough to try and piece these truths together. Silly enough to set them down in an organized manner. I hope any wisdom you find in my thoughts can serve you while you dig your ditches.
I find that creating this hierarchy, has helped me remember some very important values. It has helped me to realize which areas of my life stand ready to be harvested and plundered, and which parts need to be held sacred.
I have created the Hierarchy of Stealing Time, as a selfish way to combat my own dreadful feelings of stagnation, which often morph themselves into very dispiriting thoughts. Thoughts that whisper, scream, and often demand my resignation.
When I reflect on the time I have wasted in my life, and how precious that time truly was, I realize how much work there is still ahead of me. How important it all is, and how I wish I could get up tomorrow, and just leap and run.
Over the next few days, maybe more, I will to share with you what I know and what I understand about time. Take what you need, and leave what you deem to be without value.
I hope to explain, in time, my rather simple set of principles which has helped me prioritize my commitments and responsibilities. Living it out, well that’s another story, for another day.
I have developed this ditch digging time-net so it can better serve us in our quest to leave our mark.
Consider the next few days as a humble beginning; a crudely orchestrated road map.
We need more time.
Time to do what needs to get done.
We need to borrow, negotiate, and ultimately steal some of it back, and I know just the place to start.