What Do You Do When You’re Waiting On Others To Advance Your Project?
I frequently ask my followers what their biggest challenge is.
If you’re in marketing in any capacity, then you surely understand the value of asking such a question.
I don’t always get a response, but when I do, I take note. There are real people behind those words, whatever their frustration or challenge might be. I see it as my job to ease their pain in some way, if I can.
I recently had a follower who shared that he was frustrated with the lack of commitment others were showing for his project. He indicated that this was causing him to lose motivation and was also having trouble finding the time to do what he needed to do.
As I see it, there are several layers to this issue. So, I’m going to share my perspective on building a team, as well as finding motivation and time for your project.
No One is as Invested in Your Project as You Are
I’ve noticed that — with just about any kind of project — it’s common for there to be one or two people who are almost exclusively responsible for carrying the vision.
Just think of the litany of bands who’ve had to replace members at different stages of their career.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers immediately come to mind. It seems they’re scarcely able to hold onto a guitarist. Over the years, Jack Sherman, DeWayne McKnight, Arik Marshall, Jesse Tobias, Dave Navarro, John Frusciante, Josh Klinghoffer, Omar Rodríguez-López, Rob Rule, and Hillel Slovak have all been involved in some capacity.
One of my favorite bands is Harem Scarem. Singer Harry Hess and guitarist Pete Lesperance have remained consistent throughout their long-lasting career. But they’ve gone through several bassists and drummers through the years. Sure, the fans preferred Darren Smith on the drums, but at times the band had to move forward without him.
No matter how committed, talented or skilled the people you’re working with are, there’s always a chance they will quit, move on, or find something else to do. This has been true throughout my career as well.
It’s important to recognize this fact, because the coming and going of people may frustrate and discourage you. It might even send you into depression. But if you believe your vision is worthwhile, you can’t let this stop you.
Plus, you can’t control other people. You can only control your own actions. So, if you want to see your project move forward, you may need to be the one carrying most of the weight — especially in a situation where others aren’t being paid for their time and effort.
If I were to distill what I’m sharing with you into a single word, it would be leadership. Leaders are responsible for the vision of the projects they’re heading up.
Also note that leaders should share the vision with the people they’re working with. More than ever, people want to be involved in projects they believe in. Think carefully about why others would want to work with you. Make sure they know what you’re trying to achieve. Regularly cast vision on your team. Get them thinking about their future and their involvement with you.
If you keep failing, either you need to take a different approach or adapt the vision. Create something both you believe in and others can get behind.
Motivation Comes from the Work
I’ve interviewed my friend and fellow podcaster and musician Sean Harley [Tucker] on several occasions — most recently for my forthcoming book, Flashes of Elation.
When you’re writing a book, it’s easy to hole up in your ivory tower. I’m glad I bounced my ideas off Tucker, because he brought a much-needed perspective to the ideas I’m going to be sharing in my book.
One thing that has stuck with me from our conversations is this idea that motivation comes from the work.
When you’re trying to make your vision a reality, it’s important that you don’t lose momentum. If you can, you should dedicate some time to its progress every single day, even if it’s just five minutes.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s sending an email, brainstorming ideas or reading five pages from a book that can help you advance your project. Action keeps the idea floating above the surface of a sea of distractions.
So, what can you do today? If you’re counting on the support of others, and they have yet to finish their part, could you call them or send them an email? And, if necessary, could you have a civil conversation with them about how motivated they are to do their part? Could you look for other collaborators, should the need arise?
Again, you have no control over others, but you can control your actions. So, do something today to move your project along. Keep doing that and the motivation will come.
We All Have the Same 24 Hours in a Day
Forget the idea that we live in three distinct timelines — past, present and future. We only live now. So, a day not spent advancing your project is a day wasted.
An important question to ask yourself is:
Am I willing to do whatever it takes to make my dream a reality?
That may sound fanatical, but I’ve found if you’re willing to do whatever it takes — get up early or stay up late, turn off the TV for an hour, work on your project instead of attending social events — most of the time you won’t have to.
But if you’re not willing to do whatever it takes, you’ll be confronted with some difficult decisions. And, those decisions could end up making or breaking you. They could end up stopping you in your tracks.
I know it’s hard. I’m not married and don’t have kids. I don’t have a job and haven’t had one in two years. I’m not saying I have a lot of free time, but I will say this is the freest I’ve ever been. Most of the time, I can wake up when I want to and work when I want to. I can take off into nature if there are no deadlines or meetings on my schedule. And, importantly, I can spend at least a part of my day engaging in whatever projects I want to engage in.
But that’s not how things looked just four years ago. I was faced with the difficult decision of building my business, despite having very little income, or going back to a job. I decided to build my business.
As result, I ended up taking on a lot of side gigs as a guitar teacher, theater tech, ghostwriter, content writer and so on. By day, I would write content. At night and on the weekends, I would teach guitar or go to the university to help at the theater as a tech. I did that for two years while building my business. Do you think I had much of a life? If I had any downtime, it was spent binge watching Netflix, so I could get up the next day to do it all over again.
So, I know what it’s like to have little to no time. You want to sleep. You want to get together with friends. You want to connect with your loved ones. You want to enjoy your weekends. But if you can, take just 30 minutes or an hour per day to work on your project. The progress you make may not feel like much, but this is how many a musician and business owner got started. They were tired, angry, hungry and/or lonely. But they did it anyway.
Start doing it anyway.
Finding the right collaborators can be a challenge. I’ve been in many bands, and most never lasted longer than a year and a half. I was earnest in my dedication to the project, and I thought I was surrounding myself with the right people, but that wasn’t always the case.
I don’t regret those times. It’s still amazing to me what we were able to accomplish in the time we shared together.
But if you have a vision that motivates you, don’t let others drag you down. Hold fast to your vision, keep going, and do something today that advances your vision.