I debated whether Jon Acuff’s highlights should go first or last. I decided that I needed more time to digest all of the great content he provided at the Quitter Conference to be able to give a good representation here. Truth be told, there is far too much to touch every great point, so this will be a narrowed down version. If you want the unabridged Quitter experience, you’ll have to attend the conference (assuming he puts it on again) and read the book Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job.
Jon spoke in 5 different sessions over the course of the conference. I’ll cover the first 2 sessions in this post and the last 3 in the next.
Session 1: Figuring out what your dream is
- Your dream won’t be perfect
- Your dream will change
- Your dream is not found by waiting
“When a parent tells you you can’t, they are predicting a future they can’t control.” – Jon Acuff
I had a discussion with a friend recently who has a different perspective on life than I have. He told me that when parents tell their kids things like “when you grow up, you could be president” they are lying. I disagree. Just because you won’t be doesn’t mean you couldn’t have been. We all make decisions over the course of our lives that determine where we are at any given point.
Now, are the odds of becoming president incredibly small? Yes. There’s only one of them chosen every 4 years. The chances are slim, not impossible. The real challenge here is that President of the United States is just a position. If you determine your success by whether you have a specific position or not, you are looking in the wrong place. Your dream is more than a position. The position fulfills the purpose, not the other way around.
When I was young, I thought I could be a professional baseball player. Then I stopped playing baseball. What do you think happened? That’s right. I killed that chance. However, the dream is still alive. I’ve been playing softball for more than a decade. I manage a team. I play first base, like I thought I’d play when I was a kid. I have applied the same purpose to a new position. I may not be in the majors, but I play.
“Time numbs all wounds if doesn’t heal them.” – Jon Acuff
The more time passes, the less we feel the heartache of days gone by. It’s not gone. It’s still there. We are just numb to it. Dig deep and find that pain and set it free.
“Stop swimming in tennis courts” – Jon Acuff
When we spend too much time doing the wrong kind of work, we never gain traction to become our best selves. Swimming works great in a pool. Swimming is impossible in a tennis court. Make the place you work match the work you do.
Session 2: Facing your Fears
3 primary fears when it comes to dreaming:
- Fear of Failure
- Fear of Starting
- Fear of Success
Fear of Failure
“You have to throw birthday parties.” – Jon Acuff
Chasing your dream can feel like throwing a birthday party in seventh grade. Your second biggest fear is that nobody shows up. Your biggest fear is that one person shows up. What if nobody pays attention to your dream? That’s OK for now. When you don’t act, you fail 100% of the time. Throw birthday parties. Give people something to show up for.
Instead of failure, let’s call it experimenting. Scientists do things that don’t work all the time! Are they failing? No, they are experimenting. Fear of failure tries to convince you that your actions are forever. They’re not. Most people won’t notice at this point anyway. That’s a good thing.
“If you’re going to risk and maybe fail, fail at something that matters so that even in failure, lives are changed.” – Jon Acuff
Fear only bothers you when you do stuff that matters. If you spend your time doing stuff that isn’t scary, you aren’t trying hard enough. You won’t grow if you stay in your bubble.
Fear’s primary goal is isolation. What’s the antidote? Community. Share your dreams and goals. Find people to support and who will support you.
Fear of Starting
“90% perfect and published always changes more lives than 100% perfect and stuck in your head.” – Jon Acuff
Don’t wait for perfect before releasing your work. Good enough is when it needs to be set free. Does that mean it can’t be refined in the future? No. Your perfectionism is fear talking. Don’t listen to it. It’s wrong.
Don’t wait until you feel ready. Get started. Doors will begin to open and you will see things you never imagined. The doors stay shut and hidden until you start.
We’re afraid to do something new because we don’t want to be bad at it. It is better to be horrible at something the first time than when you’re more experienced, right? Quit being afraid of the start. Be horrible now so you can get better.
Fear of Success
I think this is my biggest hurdle. I keep pulling myself back to where I think I should be. I’m having a lot of trouble stretching my expectations for myself. “Why not me?” is a way more helpful question than “why me?”.
Fear argues both sides. Fear says, “Do it later.” Fear also says, “It’s too late.” The voices of doubt in your head get louder the closer you are to doing what you are supposed to be doing. Take that as a sign you are on the right track. Ignore them and press on.
The voices are not your friend. Nobody’s internal voice is positive. The voices are just trying to keep you from getting hurt. If you can’t get hurt, you can’t ever really grow. It’s your choice. Stay in your bubble or bust free!
1000 compliments + 1 insult = 1 insult
That’s how it feels. Don’t focus on those that don’t follow your dream. They have other lives to live. Stay focused on your path.
“People who aren’t living out their dreams often take it as a personal attack when you dare to live out yours.” – Jon Acuff
Remind yourself that you’re on the right path by looking up how people have criticized your heroes. The road sure isn’t lonely. The dream is not for the haters.
If you’d like to read the other highlights from the Quitter Conference, you can find the posts here.