Start Running

The Ace of Coins is about starting a tangible project.

As I was beginning my first job as a copywriter, my new coworker was wrapping up a side project—his “St. Louis Slinger Tour.” He and a friend had spent 14 months going diner-to-diner, sampling, rating, and reviewing every egg-hashbrown-hamburger-chili combo they could find. Their “contest” concluded with a modest awards ceremony and a bit of local press:

“The trophy is not overwhelmingly impressive,” [my coworker] added. “It says ‘St. Louis Slinger Tour’ and has their name on it and says ‘Number One’ and has an American flag. It’s a pretty cheap trophy, but I think it’s pretty cool. I have this scene in my head that we go there, present it to them, eat a slinger, and as soon as we leave they throw it in the trash.”

I probably should have been excited for this guy. But I wasn’t. I was jealous. He was hardly any different from me, and yet, he was a local hero all because he’d had the foresight to create a 62-entry blog documenting a series of conversions and lunches he was probably going to have anyway!

It seemed so obvious. And yet, I hadn’t thought of it, or something like it.

I hadn’t thought of Slinger Tour either. Probably not for four or five years. Until I stumbled across this guy who has reviewed 2942 different kinds of Instant Noodles. And that reminded me of this guy who is podcasting his way through the history of philosophy. Which reminded me of Austin Kleon’s diaries. And David Letterman’s cups.

david letterman's cups
Each one represents a completed show

And all that reminded me of what Seth Godin wrote on his blog a few weeks ago:

“The long run is made up of short runs.”

Looking at someone else’s long run can be discouraging. You think to yourself, “I’ll never be able to get there, so why bother? Why get started on my blog when my coworker is already 62 posts in?Why get started on my podcast when Marc Maron is nearing 1000?Why get started on my diary when David Sedaris is 40 years ahead of me? How will I ever catch up?

Austin Kleon's diaries
Austin Kleon’s diaries

You can’t.

I now realize I wasn’t jealous of my friend’s momentary celebrity. I wasn’t jealous of his blog. I wasn’t jealous of his idea. I was jealous of the fact that he’d started running. I was jealous that he was 62 steps ahead of me, and that there was no shortcut to catching up.

You could have always started earlier. Someone else surely has. But if all you have right now is an idea—if you’re just standing still—I promise you that this time next year, you’ll be wishing you’d started running today.

Each Monday, I share strategies to help you master your limited time, get started, and build creative habits that stick. Try it. You’ll like it.

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