Fire, then aim.
Fire, then aim.
Experience, networking, resources, success, knowledge, opportunities…
You’ve heard of the ‘snowball effect.’ Something starts out small and starts to gain momentum to the point where it’s either unstoppable or out of control, or both. Fire is another good analogy for something that can start small and grow and grow and grow, but how often does something keep growing forever? I can’t really think of anything, which is why I like the snowball effect. You have to control fire to keep it from spreading. Fire spreads on it’s own and doesn’t take any effort. I’ve never seen an idea spread on it’s own. You need people to spread ideas and you need people to have ideas in the first place.
You can’t put an idea in a museum.
Think about a snowball. You scoop up snow from the ground and pack it into a ball. It takes some molding, shaping, and effort to pack it into a tight ball, because if you don’t it will fall apart. Now look at the ground. There’s a bare spot. You took that snow and turned it into something else. You used that resource, you took advantage of that opportunity, you gained experience, you made a connection, you learned something, you became stronger, you became more successful…
There’s still plenty of snow on the ground so you scoop up a few more handfuls and make your snowball bigger. It’s now big enough for you to push it along the ground and pick up more and more snow, constantly building and improving upon what you already have. You approach a hill and see someone at the bottom trying to gather as much snow as they can, too, by making snowball after snowball, perpetually starting and starting over. They use up all the snow around them and try to move to a new area to gather more snow, but they can’t carry all the snowballs. They can only take a few in their arms so they become removed from their snowballs as they must move to start over. You watch them repeat this cycle a few times until they’ve left piles and trails of snowballs showing where they’ve been, yet they only have a few snowballs in hand to show for it. They have as much snow as you–maybe even more–but they can’t do anything with it.
The beauty of the snowball effect is that you need help. You need people.
You push your snowball down the hill and it gains speed, picking up snow as it goes, growing into something too big for one person to manage, and it breaks under its own weight. It cracks and splits into several large pieces. You waive to the person you had been watching and they come over and start rounding out the rough edges and patching up your fractured snowballs with their little ones, filling in the holes until they are round again. Like them, you initially bit off more than you could chew. You carry on, both pushing your new snowballs along, gathering more and more until the load becomes too much and must be shared by yet another, and so on, and so on.
Keep building — experience, networking, resources, success, knowledge, opportunities — keep building upon what you have until you can’t build anymore, before the other part of the snowball effect takes over…
You come home to a house you’ve kept clean for a week solid after spring cleaning, but today you are tired. You drop your stuff on the floor and go to the kitchen to grab some snacks. You’ve worked hard this week. You decide you deserve a treat. You can’t remember the last time you had a milkshake. You scoop out the ice cream, Oreos, chocolate syrup, and some more ice cream, and hold the “blend” button. The blender decides that now is a good time to commit suicide and grind its gears, and not your milkshake, until you hear a pop and see a little wisp of smoke trail away from your newly departed appliance. You now understand the phrase ‘giving up the ghost,’ but you still don’t have a milkshake. You find yourself on the couch minutes later with a long spoon and the top half of the blender in your hand, scraping out the last bites of your milkstir, and realizing that the top half of the blender actually isn’t a bad way to eat a snack. It even has a handle and a spout. Over the next few weeks you keep using the top half of the blender to eat while the bottom half still sits plugged in on your counter top. No, it still doesn’t work. And now you’ve gotten used to it being there that it has just become part of the kitchen counter; a fixture, a statue, a memorial even. A few months later you invite friends over and one of them gets really drunk and asks you why you couldn’t just make margaritas from scratch when the blender is sitting right there. You tell him, “oh, it doesn’t work.” Like it’s supposed to not work. And he just stares at you for a little while because he’s obviously drunk, and nothing is wrong with you, or the blender.