A wise friend of mine gave me some sage advice one night, without even knowing it.
But before I tell you what she told me, I should say that my friend is über productive. Uber. She is a Fulbright scholar, was a tenured professor ( a couple of times), has written over TWENTY books, is asked to speak all over the world, and of late has become an award-winning playwright, with one current off-broadway show and another in workshop stage–while she teaches adjunct at Columbia University. Like I said, über productive.
Still, when you meet Dorothy, she is thoughtful and engaging. She looks you in the eye and you know that she is considering what you have to say. And she really is. In addition to having an amazing career that started with working on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood (the “it” show when I was a kid), she has raised three amazing daughters who are busy changing the world for the better in their own right.
One night when I happened to be in NYC, we went to see an off-broadway play. Afterward, as we waited for cabs, I asked her how she did it – how is it that she is so productive? “Well,” she said thoughtfully, “I think I just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Each day I just plod along and eventually, I get somewhere.”
Was that the advice that you were expecting? No? Yeah, me either. And can I tell you how relieved I was to hear her say that? By telling me that she had done all of these amazing things by just plodding along–it was reassuring to me. I didn’t need superpowers or to survive on 4 hours of sleep or to shed all meaningful relationships in order to produce the Next Big Thing. All I needed was discipline enough to get up each day and work at it – whatever the “it” was for that day. And as long as I gave “it” my best that day, even if it was just one thing crossed off of the list, I would be that much closer to achieving what I set out to achieve.
So, while I think it’s great to set our sights high and try to achieve more than the ordinary, HOW we achieve those things may be as simple as plodding each day toward the goal. Thanks to my dear friend’s awesome advice, my new motto, writ large on the white board in my office, is “PLOD everyday”. Not sprint, not do a diving save, not be brilliant: Plod. Everyday.
As a reminder, I started decoupaging this little phrase on tiny frames (that include photos of cute shoes–because I may be plodding everyday, but who says you can’t plod along in cute shoes?)…which is the photo attached to this blog post. So, thank you, Dorothy, for some of the best advice I have ever taken to heart, and your encouragement to do great things–one step at a time, each day.
So that is my encouragement to you – all of you out there wanting to change the world: PLOD ON!