I used to be a “Have to have my ducks in a row to go” kind of person.
I thought it was being responsible.
We wouldn’t want to waste people’s valuable time, right?
I thought it just made sense to think things through before asking or acting. It decreased the risk of mistakes, rejection and failure and increased the likelihood of success.
Then I saw this YouTube Clip.
Who would have guessed a 46 second YouTube clip (now viewed by more than 21 million people) would result in a life-changing new perspective?
I love that clip because it shows we don’t have to have our ducks in a row … to go.
That mama duck and her little ducklings got blown all over the place – but they just picked themselves up, brushed themselves off and proceeded along their way.
No harm, no foul.
How did I get so locked into the “ducks in a row” mentality?
I think it was a remnant of growing up in the 60’s.
I grew up before Title IX. As women, we were often treated as second class citizens. We had to wait to be asked to the dance.
So, when we graduated from college and finally got our “equal opportunity” to enter the workplace, we felt compelled to prove ourselves and have our act together.
Our goal was to quickly show we could be trusted to work hard, make wise “unemotional” decisions, deliver results … and for God’s sake, never, ever cry.
Thinking back, I now understand my Dad also played a role in my belief that you always do your homework before making a request or recommendation.
During dinner, he would grill us about an issue and play devil’s advocate to develop our ability to debate, think on our feet and back up opinions with facts.
Feelings didn’t count. A passionate belief wasn’t a sufficient cause for action. If I tried to defend a stance with, “Well, that’s how I feel,” or “That’s what I believe,” he would retort, “Not good enough.”
Dad wasn’t being mean. He was simply trying to prepare us to make a strong case for our ideas and win arguments with unassailable logic and irrefutable, thoroughly-thought-out strategies.
That upbringing and training about the importance of due diligence served a very good purpose.
I, (and many boomer women from that “We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby” era) grew up being able to justify every proposed action with evidence and precedence.
We’re logical thinkers and deliverers, and don’t often encounter those pesky “surprises” that result from not preparing for every eventuality.
That strength has served us well up until now. In all likelihood, doing our homework has reduced the number of regrets, false starts, rejections and failures.
But that “Don’t go unless our ducks are in a row” strength has also taken a toll … because it is an extreme.
And any strength taken to an extreme becomes our Achilles Heel. (Our Achilles Hell?)
As a result of that all-or-nothing philosophy … we have missed many opportunities.
And that’s too bad because a hallmark of many SerenDestineers is … they didn’t know what they were doing … and they went ahead and did it anyway.
Many of them saw a problem, need or opportunity and thought, “Somebody should do something about that.”
Then they thought, “I’m as much a somebody as anybody… I’ll do something about it.”
The thing is, many of them had no previous experience with the dream they were going to pursue or the project they were about to launch … but they didn’t let that stop them. They went ahead and learned along the way.
And, like the mama duck and her little ducklings … they often got knocked ass over teakettle.
But they picked themselves up, brushed themselves off and proceeded along their way.
They understood that “getting blown off course” is the natural disruption phase of the discovery process.
By definition, when we do something for the first time, we will get knocked off our feet … it is to be expected.
Our job is to get our bandwagon out of the garage so other people can jump on it.
That’s what Miki Agrawal did.
Miki is a former investment banker and Division 1 soccer player. She told me, “The apartments in New York City are so small, my friends and I used to go out to dinner every night because who wants to stay home? I ended up with digestive problems though because everything I ate at restaurants was bad for me.
After one partcularly painful stomach-ache I thought, ‘Why can’t I find food I like that’s good for me?’
So, I did some research. I Googled “restaurants in NYC” and discovered that pizza accounts for 10% of all food service sales. Everyone loves pizza, but it’s usually made with tons of cheese and other not-so-good-for-you ingredients.
I thought, “Why not open a restaurant that serves a variety of organic pizzas made with fresh, healthy ingredients that taste good and are good?’
Had I ever run a restaurant before? No. Did I have any food and beverage experience? No.
And yes, I had seen all the scary statistics that 90% of all restaurants fail in the first year; and 70% of the remaining restaurants fail in their second year.
So, I knew the odds were against me but I decided to give it a try … and Slice Perfect is the result.”
Not only has Slice Perfect won many awards; it has beat the odds and is now going on its seventh year. Check out their fabulous website – http://sliceperfect.com/ – and stop by next time you’re on Hudson Street in NYC for fabulous food.
Furthermore, Zappos founder Tony Hsieh just asked Miki to open a Slice Perfect in the newly-renovated downtown district in Las Vegas.
Would any of this have happened if Miki had waited until her ducks were in a row?
Did Miki make mistakes and get temporarily blown off her feet?
Did she view those as failures; as indications she should quit or shouldn’t have started in the first place?
Like that mama duck and her ducklings, she just picked herself up, brushed herself off, learned from her mistakes … and proceeded along her way.
How about you?
What’s your SerenDestiny dream? Do you want to start a non-profit? Launch your own business? Write a book? Train for a half-marathon?
Are you waiting until everything’s perfect and you have all have your ducks in a row?
If so, watch that 46 second video again.
Hopefully, it will inspire you to adopt a new philosophy that goes something like this.
“I will not WAIT until all my ducks are in a row … to go.
I will not WAIT to be asked to the dance.
I will INITIATE on my own behalf.
I will have the CLARITY and COURAGE to get my SerenDestiny® bandwagon out of the garage.
I will LEARN ALONG THE WAY.”
Write this philosophy (or your version of it) on an index card and put it on your refrigerator, mirror, in your wallet and on your laptop.
Posting this pro-active motto where you see it all day, every day, will keep it in-sight, in mind … instead of out of sight, out of mind.
And you might want to mull over this quote from sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke:
“No one can predict the future.
The best we can hope for is the ‘masterful administration of the unforeseen.’
Ride the whirlwind. That’s the most we can do.”
Don’t try to predict and guarantee a successful future .. and don’t try to “masterfully administer” the whirlwind.
That sounds a lot like control – and we know how THAT works out.
Embrace the whirlwind that will happen when you set your SerenDestiny® in motion.
Enjoy it. Appreciate it. Welcome it. It is an indication you’re turning your dream into reality.
And, if the whirlwind of disruption and discovery temporarily blows you off your feet; get up, brush yourself off, adapt, and keep moving forward. Always forward.