Back when I made my art, I would sometimes find a new venue or commission that would give me the chance to work bigger than before. I’d sign a new gallery, meaning more pieces, or a museum. Or a venue with a budget would commission me.
My art was technical, with laser cut steel, 8 foot photographic quality images, power cables, and so on. I could only scale up when I had a budget and a space big enough to mount the displays and for people to step far enough away to view it.
How did I decide how big to make a new display?
From my experience building subway advertising displays a quarter-mile long, meeting safety and fire codes for ten years in brutal industrial environments, I knew I could solve any technical challenges if I had the resources, usually meaning time and money. So those were my constraints: time and money.
When I made bigger works, I would make them as big as time and money allowed.
That meant that every time I made a new, big display, I would be frantically putting the finishing touches on it just before unveiling it to all the people I invited for its debut, with no spare time or money to fall back on.
I’d be full of anxiety, even fear, that my solution wouldn’t work. When you scale something as technical as my work, even with my experience, I often couldn’t tell how the new size would look until I saw it.
Before turning it on to see how it would look in place, usually an hour or less before guests, including potential buyers, would come, full of anxiety and fear, I would find myself doubting myself, asking
Is this too big? Did I push too far? Why did I push my boundaries so much??
Then I turned on the lights and they always looked good. Seconds after doubting myself and asking, “Is this too big,” I would say to myself
This is too small! I should have made it bigger. Why did I doubt myself??
If I’d had more confidence, I could have made it bigger.
Plus, since I was always doing new things, beyond anyone’s expectations with a medium only I understood like I did, nobody saw the flaws in my work that I did. They were amazed by the main developments.
Every big accomplishment is a new beginning, a platform to build on
However big and beautiful each piece was and how hard it was to reach that level, once I did it, I knew my ability. I could take for granted that level of accomplishment.
It forced me to ask
If I can do this, what more can I do?
which led me to do more.
I see this pattern with my book. I worked hard to reach this point. As I’m writing, Leadership Step by Step has 41 reviews—40 5-star reviews and 1 4-star.
Some of the reviews are touching and meaningful. The number has long past friends and colleagues, into people in the wild who don’t know me and have no motivation to write to be nice to me.
As a former non-commissioned officer with the US Marines in Iraq, I have read a lot of books on leadership to enhance my own abilities. This is by far the best book I have read on the topic.
This is a very beautiful book. The author has drawn from a wide variety of fields and is able to distil a great deal of wisdom and knowledge into simple and powerful exercises.
I was actually moved by Joshua Spodek’s book.
among many others.
As hard as I worked to reach here, now that I see the effect the book has had on the people it has, I see it as a platform.
Writing the book was never just about selling lots of books, though I hope to. It’s always been a means to an end, another channel to give people my new way of learning to lead by creating meaning, value, importance, and purpose, to increase their self-awareness, and all that. I believe that there will be a before and after my book, meaning that, if I market it effectively, that after enough people get it, and the active, experiential technique of learning, that no one will go back to the old ways of learning leadership, entrepreneurship, and my other courses in school of lecture, case study, reading psychology papers, and other intellectually active but socially and emotionally passive ways of teaching.
For the past few months, maybe a full year, of executing the plan to write and market, my life has been all trees, no forest. Now that I’m seeing things work out, I can start stepping back and looking at a strategic level, seeing the book as a platform.
Whatever your achievement, the bigger the achievement, the more it’s just a platform for the next stage. Accomplishments open doors, only letting you see there’s something on the other side. You have to step across the threshold, explore the new space, and make something of it.
What accomplishments have opened doors for you?
What ends can you make into new beginnings?
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book