Red-colored pine needles have fallen and now cover the old green hammock hanging between two majestic pines in front of the porch to my cabin. The ground below is cushioned with a pillow of needles, and the scent of pine is glorious. Walking on the soft needles in bare feet is one of my favorite experiences.
Years of Laughter
Sitting here in the 120-year-old octagon-shaped screened porch overlooking the lake, the porch filled with wicker and cane chairs now empty, reminds me of the laughter, the music, the discussions and debates that took place here all summer. Our first week here we had about 86 artists in the house, celebrating our week of painting together. Of course, there is a rich history of voices in this place, every summer for 12 decades.
The rest of the summer was filled with visiting childhood friends talking of old times, artists talking art history, family friends discussing trips together, kids talking about their lake friends, neighbors getting to know us, and Laurie and I pondering our future when the kids enter college.
The Sounds of Silence
The porch is silent now. An occasional boat goes by, but this weekend was the last hurrah for most on the lake, which will be empty tomorrow. My family is already gone, two kids in school while one son remains here with me, ready for our big drive back to Austin starting tomorrow morning. I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with Brady and the dogs, and stopping to see some friends and museum shows along the way.
Each summer here in this special place has been the best summer ever, and this is no exception. Yet tears well up, knowing I’ll be saying goodbye to my favorite place on earth tomorrow. My heart is filled with a spirit of gratitude for the ability to be so happy here. But if I lived here year-round it would not be as special, so goodbye is necessary.
Most of last week I had my executive team here with me, and I laid out some giant goals and initiatives for 2020. Though everyone was enthusiastic, there were concerns about how we can accomplish such big goals. Frankly, I hear the same thing from friends, readers, artists … how do you accomplish something that seems overwhelming?
Kick the Can
Our tendency is to look at something big as overwhelming. Yet big, overwhelming tasks are accomplished by doing small tasks. My friend Keith Cunningham calls it kicking the can down the road, just a few feet at a time. A small kick, then another, then another…
Small progress is the way to accomplish big goals.
The Tipping Point
Writer Malcom Gladwell said that mass movements don’t begin with a mass, they begin with a few. If you want to create a movement, all you need are the right 10 percent of the people to join your movement and you’ll tip things in your favor. He calls it “the tipping point.”
The same concept applies to goals. If you determine the very few things that will move you most toward your goal, you’ll begin creating momentum. Then focus on the next 10 percent that will take you closer.
Look at something you want to accomplish and ask yourself, “What’s the tipping point?” You don’t have to get everyone on board, just 10 percent. You don’t have to accomplish the goal … just kick the can a little further in the right direction.
Don’t Trim Back Goals
Most of the people I know are big thinkers, but they allow the size of their ideas to overwhelm them. Next thing you know they are reducing their big ideas to small ones because the smaller goals feel more within reach. Yet if you hang on to your big ideas and break them into small pieces, you’ll hit big goals instead of small goals.
No matter what you want to accomplish in life, set the biggest most exciting, most life-changing goal you can imagine. Don’t let anyone tell you why it can’t be done. Don’t let others rain on your parade. Dream it, believe it, and then start to execute it … one tiny step at a time. As long as you keep an eye on the goal, figure out the small steps, and kick the can in the right direction, anything is possible.
Do you have big goals? Big dreams that overwhelm you?
That’s not unusual.
But now you know the secret. Big things happen with tiny steps.
PS: Birthday wishes to my friend Alan Harvy, Jr., my friend Guy Kawasaki, my friend and travel partner Gabriel Hagazian (come with us on our France trip this fall), and to my Aunt Marylin, who turned 90 this week. And thanks to all the hundreds of e-mails and social media birthday greetings. I was sad not being with my kids and my wife, but I was blessed to have a wonderful party thrown by my dad, with my brother, my sister-in-law, and my nieces and nephews. It was the best birthday yet.
To my friends in the hurricane zone: You’re in our thoughts.
enjoyed this story very much. i am 78 years old so naturally a lot of your writing applies to myself and i see myself in a lot of circumstances that apply to me.Thanks for what you do.
Happy Belated Birthday, Eric! God bless you in all your future plans.
Your comment of “Kicking the can down the road – just a little ways – time after time works.
When I was young and heading off on a long driving trip, I did what my parents had taught me about making long driving trips. This was back in the days before GPS, etc. The goal was where you were going. You mapped out the route, Point A to Point B via this route; Point B to Point C via this route. . . . You didn’t keep looking at the end goal. It was too far away and could seem overwhelming. But Point by Point, where you could see your progress – success – as you kept moving toward that far off place (often 2,000 miles) until, there you were.
As you say, a little and a little and celebrate each success along the way, until, Oh My Goodness!, there you are.
Thank you so much, Mr. Rhoads. You Sunday Coffee chats are a lovely part of my weekend.
I love your Sunday blog post. I have received it in my email for a while now, but never read it because I never thought I had time. But I started to read it the past few Sundays and, well it only takes a few minutes to read, but that aside, I love the messages: the encouragement to us artists, and the peaceful, positive vision that your writing evokes. A pleasure to read.