A few years ago I drove my youngest son to New England to start a dream summer job at a mountain bike park.
My son loves downhill biking. LOVES it. He’d be working with a good friend. They’d found an apartment they could share. He could save money for school and do something he loves all summer long. On paper, this seemed like a charmed opportunity for him.
The trip was a disaster in nearly every way possible.
Esme, my faithful orange car, broke down. When we finally reached his apartment the landlord was unprepared and unavailable, meaning no key and no moving in. This after many text messages confirming our arrival time. At the mountain, his future boss was out sick. He couldn’t check in and get his work schedule or his ride pass so he couldn't be at the mountain that day.
Marooned with no place to be, we stood there at the base of the mountain he'd hoped to be riding all summer, worried and bewildered.
It felt like a truly awful beginning, but it was really a truly awful ending to a journey begun without focused attention from everyone involved. The beginning actually happened weeks before; a tiny trail of haphazard communication among just my son and his friend.
They were communicating through the exhaustion and worry of their finals, the busyness of a sister’s graduation and the chaos of visiting family. Their passion and enthusiasm were driving the bus. Thoughtfulness was half a mile behind, out of breath and losing ground fast. Despite good intentions, this bus had “Yikes!” written all over it.
All of us had divided attention when talking about this opportunity: kids, parents, landlords and employers. As my son and I stood at the bottom of the mountain that day, we both realized we’d had gut feelings of unease we shrugged off because everything looked good on the surface. And, because it seemed like such an exciting, not-to-be-missed opportunity.
What we all learned from our experience is that beginnings have their best chance of becoming satisfying endings when everyone involved commits their full, thoughtful attention to the planning process. If they share gut feelings as they arise, and respectfully call out anyone who isn’t fully participating.
Clear, honest communication is essential at every step. I know that seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many endeavors are launched driven by passion and enthusiasm without the map of thoughtful, honest communication.
The next time you’re beginning something new, anything from getting a new dog to transitioning out of a corporate job to open your own business, here are a few suggestions for making it a good beginning:
1. Check in with your intuition and ask if this project is truly viable. If it involves considerable resources and affects the lives of other people, consider verifying your choice with trusted advisors.
2. Ask yourself what a satisfying journey will look and feel like. How would you like this process to end? Be sure you have a clearly drawn map, and then turn your passion loose to keep you moving.
3. Enjoy your passion and enthusiasm, and consciously invite your mind and intuition to join the party. (Deep breaths can help navigate over-exuberant enthusiasm.)
4. Think about who needs to be part of the conversation. Does it feel realistic to ask for their focused attention for this project? If not, is there someone else you can invite?
5. Pause often and ask yourself if you are fully present. Are mind, enthusiasm and gut all paying attention? How about everyone else?
6. Enjoy the ride!
Tracie Nichols is a holistic business coach offering coaching that’s comfortably practical with its roots in nature-informed solutions. She helps body-centered practitioners and highly sensitive women build successful businesses guided by the wisdom of their bodies and the natural world. You can learn more or drop her a line at TracieNichols.com.