Thank you Ira Glass. For those of you who do not know Mr. Glass, he is the creative force behind ”This American Life” which is an insanely good and quirky radio program on NPR. Ira is a consummate story teller but this wasn’t always the case. In a jewel of a video, he describes the sizeable gap between his taste in story-telling and his ability to actually tell a story. He describes this gap as inevitable but at the same time dangerous because when we perceive this discrepancy we are tempted to give up knowing that our creation is not as good as it ought to be. But Ira says to push on because the gap between what you know to be good and what you are actually doing will close if you keep at it. So thank you Ira for helping me, a beginning blogger, deal with the temptation to throw in the towel.
And then it occurred to me that this gap between what we know to be good and where we actually are with any given self-improvement project is a kind of universal property. If we need to lose 100 pounds we see clearly the gap between what should be and what is. Our “taste” is good, we prefer to be 100 pounds lighter for all the right reasons- but our execution lags. And when our execution lags we get discouraged and are tempted to give up.
So what’s the way around this inevitable, but formidable, psychological obstacle to making progress? How do we overcome the temptation to give up? First we have to recognize that there’s nothing wrong with this gap. It’s OK. It’s a starting point. Next we have to believe in the power of small steps, the power of small increments of improvement to make a difference. Because there is no other way. Whether you’re a new blogger who has to learn how to write more effectively or a person who is 100 pounds overweight, your only choice on any given day, at any given moment, is between NO progress or SMALL progress.
There is no item on this menu for BIG progress. Hey, don’t blame me it’s not my restaurant. And, personally I am ordering up some small progress today. And I am hoping to order some more tomorrow. So Ira, I owe you one… and by the way did anyone ever call you Mr. Glass Half-Full?