For the next six weeks, this blog will be the deep context support to the Virtual Apprenticeship Challenge that I'm running. The VAC is a free challenge I'm running to help people gain a little more structure around taking the steps to make their spooncarving (or whatever your thing is) to the next level. It is intended to be very self directed, so these blogs will provide the real instruction while the challenge directions will be issued in a direct message to each of the participants.
Week 1 is about doing your thing every day.
That might seem like an obvious thing. But it's super hard to do. That means doing it when you'd rather go to bed. That means getting up early to do it. That means doing it when you're not inspired, or feeling rushed, or when you need to make some sort of sacrifice for it.
Sometimes it is fun too, don't get me wrong. But plenty of times, the discipline that is needed requires sacrifice. So why do it?
The reason you need to do your thing every day is because that is what it takes to get good at what you do. Carving for seven hours one day a week is nowhere near as helpful as carving an hour every single day of the week. And if your thing is as obscure as spooncarving, you need to be even better to reach the place where you want to be. Because while the competition is small, the pie of demand is also small. Competition is a topic for another day, but my point is this: if you want to start selling your work; if you want to gain a reputation that you can leverage into opportunities; if you just want to reach a place where carving (or whatever) feels like something you have mastery over, then you need to make the commitment to do it every day.
Now maybe you don't want to. That's fine. There is lots of room for everyone in the spooncarving (or any scene). But the 88 of you who asked to take part in this presumably wanted your feet held to the fire a little bit, so this is me doing it. This is some straight talk. You will need to sacrifice for it.
So if you are looking at the rest of the day and haven't figured out when you are going to carve, stop and make a plan. If you keep forgetting to make a spoon blank during the day and then can't use the axe early in the morning, go do that so you can set an alarm, get up while everyone else is still sleeping, and pay your dues. Incredible things are hard to do. You will need to sacrifice for it.
I would also suggest that you don't let yourself get too bogged down in any one spoons. Don't sit down on a fresh day and pick up an old spoon. The lessons you learned there are learned: carve something new, learn some new lessons. I like the idea of giving yourself just an hour (or an hour and a half, if you must) to carve, and to push to complete something in that time. That way you push yourself to learn lessons about efficiency, what is good enough, what matters and what doesn't, and where you are weakest. Even if you never intend to carve to sell (in which case this whole project might not be for you) this is a helpful structure. So push yourself to finish each thing in that time, to the best of your ability. It will be frustrating at first. You will need to sacrifice for it.
This discipline, this carving every day, will need to go on for a long time if you want to win at this. And by win, I don't win because someone else has lost. I mean win like you succeeded in doing what you dreamed of. I carved every day for a year before anyone paid any attention. And I was pretty bad at first. But I loved it and I was inspired and I was disciplined. And then, lo and behold, I found out that I had learned some things and could do some things. It will take you a long time before you gain any traction, and it is up to you, to your inner fire, to keep going in the radio silence. This is hard. You will need to sacrifice for it.
I still carve every day (or close to it, through a confluence of events I cannot carve today, ironically). And while it is true that carving is my sanity, my meditation, my balance and my purpose, that is not why I carve every day. I carve every day because that is what is required to achieve what I want to achieve. This is hard. But I am prepared to sacrifice for it.
My blog has evolved into a series of short essays on the nature of entrepreneurship, craftsmanship, and their overlap. If either of these topics is something you think about, you will probably like this.