They say the hard part is starting; taking that very first step when you’re standing still; finding the energy and the courage to begin to move toward your dream.
What they don’t tell you is that after you do that you have to take another step, and from my experience that’s where things get really tough.
The first step is more about motivation. You have to change something. You have to lean forward and move your feet back under you to keep from falling. The first step is scary, but technically not as difficult as the next.
The second step will get you
When I decided to start MemberUp (my recent software project) it was scary. I took the first step, and it worked.
The next step though I had no idea what to do. I wasn’t a web programmer. I didn’t have the skills or knowledge to execute and begin to bring my dream to life.
Nobody could fault me for giving up. After all, I’d reached a legit road block. You can fake your way through a lot of thing, but programming a computer isn’t one of them. I’ve never found a computer who would just shrug and give you the nod to go ahead when things weren’t quite right.
What Jeremy Cowart taught me about obstacles
When I was just getting the ball rolling for MemberUp I heard Jeremy Cowart speak at a conference. Jeremy talked about how he taught himself Photoshop from scratch and opened a graphic design studio, and how he later taught himself photography. For someone who’s parents worried about their ability to perform adequately in the classroom, this was an impressive feat.
Jeremy talked about the difficulty of those early days. Not about deciding to learn photoshop or photography or taking that first step, but about persevering when you don’t even know enough to know what you need to learn.
Jeremy’s strength in these times and now came from one message his dad reminded him of constantly:
“I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”
– Philippians 4:13
Jeremy eventually mastered Photoshop, and he mastered Photography too. Today he’s widely requested celebrity photographer who’s work appears all over.
I’m inspired by how Jeremy’s story continues to unfold in amazing new ways. In 2010 he traveled to Haiti following the devastating earthquake to tell the story of the people who lived there. His work was featured by the UN weeks later for world leaders discussing plans for the reconstruction of Haiti. His work to help the people of Haiti was impacting people at the highest levels in powerful ways.
He also founded HelpPortrait, a worldwide movement of photographers using their time, equipment, and expertise to give back to those less fortunate.
Imagine if Jeremy had let not knowing Photoshop stand in his way.
The myth of experts
Before I heard Jeremy tell his troy, I imagined it would be filled with confidence. I envisioned a guy at the top of his game who masterfully spun ideas into works of art. I assumed he knew the amazing impact each of his projects would have before he ever snapped the first frame. I expected the usual “rah rah, just do it!” we so often hear.
But that wasn’t it at all.
Instead, Jeremy’s story was filled with question marks. Each step he took, each project he started, he didn’t even always know if he could pull it off. It was like sitting down at the computer and not knowing a thing about Photoshop all over again.
And each time he relied on his faith. He trusted that God would give him the strength to find a way if he just had the faith and courage to begin.
Faith and courage to begin
Listening to Jeremy talk was overwhelmingly encouraging. At the time I was just beginning my dream of building MemberUp. I could either throw int he towel because I didn’t already know how to do what I wanted to do. Or I could start, and trust that I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.
What I experienced over the next 60 days was nothing short of a miracle. Step by step, piece by piece, I put MemberUp together. From knowing almost nothing about web programming, to a working app charging real credit cards real money every month.
It wasn’t because I had a clue what I was doing, but because I believed with all my heart that I was smart enough to figure it out, and that God would give me the strength to continue – even when I didn’t know where to turn.
Don’t ever let lack of knowledge or lack of skills stand between you and your dream. Just start.