Your Mind Is Your Best Tool-Use it to Work Out New Ideas^ - NARA - 534179 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Always start in the middle" - Anon
"Kanter's Law: Everything looks like a failure in the middle" - Rosabeth Moss Kanter
The two quotes above always inspire me when I begin a project. Am I obsessed with things that only happen in the middle of projects? Not exactly. What I'm referring to here is about how to get started and keep going until you execute your idea.
Let me unpack this a bit:
"Always start in the middle" : I've written four books (non fiction) and I know one thing for sure. When you begin writing, you should never start at the beginning! The beginning counts too much and should always be saved for a time when you really understand what your book is about. When you begin writing, you think you know, but your creative mind has a lot in store for you along the way.
I develop my ideas by starting with a mind map to make my ideas tangible. I let my creative mind do the heavy lifting. When I have enough content to show me where to go next, I create an outline. Then I pick a spot somewhere in the middle and start working.
This really applies to any project. When I work on marketing problems with my clients, we start our creative strategy by targeting the low hanging fruit. This means that somewhere in the middle of all the activity is a problem that, when tackled first will get everything moving quickly. The project will take shape and the creative strategy will become clear.
That's where the next quote comes in.
"Everything looks like a failure in the middle" : When you start a project, your spirits are high and your creative mind is at it's best. You know you will succeed and its full speed ahead. When you get to the middle of the project, the beginning is no longer in sight and the end seems like it will never come. Tensions run high and everyone you're working with seems lazy and spiteful. This is the time for the 'celebration of the middle.' Everyone needs to acknowledge that the ship is making progress, you just can't see land yet.
So what to do if you're stuck? Throw a middle celebration for yourself and or your colleagues. Thank everyone for all the effort they're putting in and remind them that you're in the dreaded middle. If you're working on a new web site or product, take a break and give yourself some credit for hanging on. Land can't be far away if you keep sailing.