Last week I wrote a review of Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath. One of the qualities of the book that impressed me most was the large number of stories used to illustrate its main points. The book would have been much less inspiring without them. I decided after reading that book, that as I publish my books, I will be sure to make them rife with stories.
So, how do I gather so many stories as the Heath brothers did? How do I organize them? Where is this secret website that has all of these stories grouped by subject so I can spend an afternoon gathering all of them? To answer these questions, I reached out to one of the authors.
Chip Heath was gracious enough to write back with the following:
Hi Ryan, Unfortunately we have discovered no shortcuts, we just read everything we can find that might be relevant. […] I’ve come to the (sad) conclusion that story collection can’t be outsourced.
Good luck with your work.
There are no Shortcuts
I have to admit, I’ve started to become addicted to outsourcing certain tasks to oDesk. I’ve hired 5 different people already to perform tasks from coding to transcribing podcasts. I figured that story collection would be another one of those easy $10/hour jobs I could throw out there.
According to a New York Times bestselling author, I can’t.
Just yesterday I received my regular installment of The Weekly Gold email newsletter, where community builder David Sherry wrote this timely advice:
The short cut to becoming an entrepreneur is to work on launching products for ten years.
The secret to being in great shape is to stick to strict workout regiment and only eat vegetables and lean meats.
The short cut to getting a date with that guy or girl you always see is to go up and talk to them.[…]
The solution has always been right in front of us.
The real secret is convincing your brain to stop searching and to start doing.
Start doing. It bears repeating.
I often fall into the trap of buying a handful of business books and then spending months reading through them, all of them while not doing anything to apply what I’ve read. As I reflect on the most valuable lessons I’ve learned, they weren’t from reading a book, they were from trial and error.
When We Do, We Grow.
So what is holding you back from trying out that thing that you’ve been thinking of doing? Are you trying to find a shortcut instead of starting the hard work? Are you waiting until you finish reading that “how-to” book before you get started?
Don’t wait, start.
I’m inspired by the story of a man who many consider being the greatest (lyrical) poet of our time, Robert Van Winkle:
A lot of people think I was an overnight success, but I was an opening act for three or four years, and then I signed my contract with EMI. Then it kind of blew up overnight.
-Robert Van Winkle (a.k.a. Vanilla Ice)
From here on out, every time you hear “Ice Ice Baby”, remind yourself that you are in good company as you push forward. Your overnight success comes after a period of hard work–and the hard work comes after you start.