Want to Create Something Amazing? It Starts With One Big Step

image of Felix Baumgartner's space jump

Maybe you’re a writer. Or a business owner. Or a professional marketer.

Or all three of those.

Maybe you’re looking to widen your audience. Or you’re just looking for reasons to be a little more excited when you get out of bed every morning.

Maybe you want to launch a dream.

Maybe you’ve worked up the courage to want to do something epic.

Even if you haven’t shared that dream with anyone yet. Even if it’s still something private.

If you do have a secret dream, congratulations. Because a commitment to doing something great — something that makes us catch our breath a little — will take you farther than anything else will.

But you don’t build something epic just by getting a wild hair. Whatever you’re building — if it’s worth building — you’ll go through three phases.

1. Dare

If you’re going to build something — a business, a blog — that takes our breath away, it has to take your breath away first.

One of the great things about working with Brian Clark is that he doesn’t really have much knack for doing little projects. He’s always got a bigger dream. It’s part terrifying and part exhilarating.

I love baby steps, and that’s what I teach. I believe in baby steps.

But baby steps toward something that really gets your motor running … that’s much more satisfying.

That dare is the big step. Once you’ve let yourself dream about something really big, the rest of it is logistics.

Whether you create your dream exactly the way you see it in your head isn’t the point. Daring is the point.

2. Prepare

If you’re planning a jump from 128,100 feet that will take your body up to 833.9 miles per hour in free fall … you’re going to need to do some prep.

The greater the mission, the more preparation you’re going to need.

You probably don’t know everything you need to know to make your breathtaking dream happen. (If you did, it would just be a “pretty big” dream, which isn’t as much fun.)

So educate yourself.

Your dream probably isn’t something you can do all at once. It will happen in stages. Figure out what those stages are.

Take practice jumps. Work out the problems that come up at 10,000 feet before you climb to 128,000.

This is what most people call “the hard part.”

You know what I call it? The fun part.

This is what you’ll look back on later with great fondness and a hell of a grin on your face.

This is what pulls you out of bed in the morning so you can get started on the next milestone.

Solving problems, gaining knowledge, pushing out experiments … this is what being a human being is about. Enjoy it. Learn from it.

3. Jump

I hate the saying, “Leap, and the net will appear.”

That is a lousy maxim when you’re heading for the ground at over 800 miles an hour.

Build your net. Study your net. Understand your net.

Felix Baumgartner and Red Bull started working on their legendary space jump in 2005, and didn’t actually make the jump until this week in 2012.

It took seven years to perfect the net. To work out the kinks and understand all the angles.

Realize that the net can never give you 100% certainty.

Jump anyway.

It’s a hell of a ride. :)

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Reader Comments (35)

  1. says

    Yes, yes, yes!

    I especially agree with #2. These days, newbie entrepreneurs are so focused on creating something, they tend to rush it (I did too when I started my first business). Doing the work (i.e. not looking for shortcuts) and taking care of details before they become a problem are by far the two most important business lessons I’ve learned over my entrepreneurial roller coaster ride.

    Thanks for any ass-kicking post Sonia!

    • says

      I’m 85 years old and jealous! After all these years I’ve found someone I can say “that was me years ago”
      I’m new at this but I’m enjoying the challange.

    • says

      Hi Rishi, I get what you are saying about newbie entrepreneurs and planning. I’m not much of a planner when it comes to business or life but I have learned to surround myself with people that are planners in business. It helps to have people around me that are better at some things than I am because then I can focus on what I am good at.

  2. says

    I loved your emphasis on FUN throughout your article. I want my day, my business to be truly FUN. I like it that way. And I DO want it to be epic – something no one else is offering. Thanks for the nudge out the door.

    • says

      We only have a very limited amount of time on this planet, I figure it might as well be fun. :) Some days it can also be tough, but finding the fun in the tough parts is often a matter of how you think about it

  3. says

    Like this article. Positive, enlightening and inspirational. I liken its essence to ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ – a famous inspirational self-help motivational book of the 80’s (or 90’s..?). Fact is, ‘One Big Step’ is all about the stuff that most Writers should have coursing through their veins: the need to go the ‘extra mile’ in the creative process, to ‘Believe that Something Extraordinary CAN happen’, and use that ‘Milk of the Gods’, which is adrenalin!
    Adrenalin and belief is what creates great Rockstar performances like those of Freddie Mercury, great Sporting achievements like those of the recent Olympic Superstars, great Scientific breakthroughs by our leading Scientists. Adrenalin is the essence of individual human achievements, and belief makes it happen.
    Having survived cancer, the recession of 2007, and the housing crash of 2008, I now believe more than ever in the power of adrenalin and belief, which should enable anyone to ‘Dare, Prepare and Jump’ – even if it takes little steps to start. Keep up the great, motivational work! Thanks. Andy.

  4. says

    Sonia, Thanks for this great article. It is good to be reminded to dream big and start taking those baby steps to achieve the goal. I also appreciate your comment about doing the prep work. That always takes longer whether you’re painting your house, assembling parts of a project, or planning a business. I didn’t realize it took so many years to get ready for the big jump. That’s a real lesson in dedication, patience, persistence, and wisdom (knowing when to do what and not quit until it’s right). Thanks again.

  5. says

    Loved this: “…baby steps toward something that really gets your motor running … that’s much more satisfying.” There’s a necessary tension I think (that doesn’t get talked about enough) between dreaming big/taking action and slowing down to where each step makes deliberate progress toward a specific goal. I’ve definitely experienced this lately with my “Prosperity’s Kitchen” project. It scares the bajeezus out of me if I think about the big, daring part too much/too often. Focusing on what needs to happen — even if it’s just a little step every day — brings it down into a space where I can enjoy the process of practicing, experimenting (fun!) and celebrating the little wins.

  6. says

    Sonia, this a great write up. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through it. It was great to read that any dream that we can have can be accomplished with “baby steps.”
    Sometimes, I know that want to go from A to Z in a quick second because I’m excited about getting to the “dream” itself. But I have to remind myself that it about the journey. And also in order for me to reach the end I have to dare myself to take the first step, prepare myself for the trek, and just go for it.
    And in the end if you don’t achieve what you first envisioned, you would have just by taking the steps will have a journey of a lifetime.
    Thank you for writing and sharing this. To me it reminds me to “Dare, Prepare, and Jump.” And I can accomplish anything. :)

  7. says

    Jumping without the security of a net is hard. But in life you can’t always depend on the net being there and you just have to jump away…sometimes you might even get pushed.

  8. says

    Sadly, most people have no desire to educate themselves. This drives me nuts! I learn every day. I’ve taught myself WordPress and other programs. Heck, I even learned a little about HTML coding. If I don’t know something, I find the answer. Sometimes, it’s trial and error. But I keep going.

  9. says

    I love this analogy! Great post Sonia. :) I would add that sometimes when you reach the net, it ends up being a bit stronger than you thought. You still need to be certain it will at least hold you before you take the plunge.

  10. says

    I absolutely love this post, because I believe it’s the mind work that most of us miss when we aspire for things. We focus on the step-by-step details of how to accomplish something, but forget that we must first begin a thing in the mind. It all starts with the belief — being able to dare, as you said here. If we undermine ourselves, sabotage our efforts, and deny our abilities, we’ll never be able to do very much.

    It’s the doing that can actually help the daring get bigger, which is why the small steps are so important.

    Of course, I do love the saying, “Leap, and the net will appear,” as I’ve used it in speaking engagements. :-) But the point of the post is well taken. Wonderful inspiration.

    • says

      At some point, we all need to say, “OK, enough worrying and futzing around, let’s just do it.” But I just like to encourage some careful prep first. :)

  11. says

    You hate the saying “leap and the net will appear.” I hate the saying “if something’s worth doing it’s worth doing poorly.” I think they are kissing cousins. While I find some value in both I also find them to be misleading. Buying awful products is a result of doing things poorly. Braking bones and unnecessary failures are results of jumping before preparing.

    Yet all this being said, as you ended your post, jump anyway! But, get close first! and if you do something wrong or if your product isn’t the best it can be, fix it! Life is uncertain and it’s always a process. Nothing’s perfect nor will it every be but that shouldn’t stop us from always desiring to learn, grow, and improve.

    Always love your stuff, Sonia. Thank you.

    • says

      Thanks, Carmelo!

      I don’t mind if people do stuff poorly … just wait until it’s good before you share it with the rest of us. :) (I find some value in both statements too. People can definitely get overly perfectionistic and do nothing, which is not a recipe for anything good.)

      • says

        Well, I certainly see your point, Sonia. You can’t be a perfectionist. I guess I just got caught once paying a whole crapload of money and getting virtually nothing in return. And the marketer simply spouted that line to me. I didn’t take it well. So, I’m a bit biased when it comes to doing things poorly and charging a premium.

        Of course we need to do things … poorly at first. Like you say, just don’t try selling it yet!

        I never find that kind of thing with products and services here! Thankful for that! :)

  12. says

    Leaping is difficult for many folks in our industry (and in general) because of a natural inclination of aversion to fear, but breaking down the leap into manageable stress and emphasizing fun can be help someone break through the barrier of fear. I know for myself that practice has helped me overcome fears I have in career, practice not only makes perfect but it also generates confidence, so that first blog post or tagline may have been terrifying, but the 31st comes easily.

  13. says

    Hi Sonia,

    This Blog is “awesome” Suggest me better word than this :-) you all are master writers & teachers, leaders in getting someone exited :-)

    Loved the line here “looking for reasons to be a little more excited when you get out of bed every morning” & also “Once you’ve let yourself dream about something really big, the rest of it is logistics”……Loved the word LOGISTICS :-)

  14. says

    Thanks for another cracker Sonia. It reminded me a bit of ” ready fire aim” .Also ” fail to prepare and prepare to fail” is another one. The importance of preparation is highlighted beautifully by the seven year waiting period mentioned in your post. That says it all.

  15. says

    That’s the only thing I am bad at.
    I am not able to take a risk. I fear that if I fail everything will be lost. Once I am able to dare something that’s it, I will then do some awesome stuff. :)

  16. says

    “It took seven years to perfect the net.”
    What a beautiful phrase. This blog post actually brought a tear to my eye.

    I need to stop bitching and moaning; my net has not been perfected yet. I still have work to do.

  17. says

    Love #1 DARE. That single word is powerful. A lot of people know stuff intellectually or mentally but it’s all head knowledge. Few of us really Dare to take that first step or that calculated leap or that risk. Once we Dare then great things start to happen.

  18. says

    “Take practice jumps. Work out the problems that come up at 10,000 feet before you climb to 128,000.
    This is what most people call “the hard part.”
    You know what I call it? The fun part.”

    Gotta love this line Sonia! Being a paranoid perfectionist won’t take you nowhere if you’re gonna take a ‘leap’. Taking risks and welcoming mistakes with open arms could be the ‘hard part’ but the everything will make sense if we remember what Edwin Land once figured out:

    “A mistake is a future benefit. The full value of which is yet to be realized.”

    So dare to dream big, prepare to overcome challenges and you’ll be jumping your way to success.

  19. says

    I love point number 3 because as important as it is to prepare, it’s also important to take action. There is a danger in getting stuck in the preparation stage. It’s the difference between writing a business plan and actually starting the business and taking the risk. It’s also important to make the decision to do something great and stand for something (being) rather than just doing.

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