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The Challenge and the Opportunity

The Challenge

Once upon a time I lived in the small country of Togo in West Africa. I was based on a hospital ship docked in Lomé, the capital, and the team I worked with had a project three hours’ north in a village.

One of our team members needed to be there during the week, but not over the weekend. Because we had a lot of projects competing for transportation, we couldn’t allocate a vehicle specifically to her. She could have stayed in the village over the weekend, but life in the village gets old after a few days. What to do?

I solved the problem by offering to drive her both ways for as long as she needed. “That’s crazy!” someone said. “You can’t drive six hours round-trip twice a week for three months.”

But that’s what I did. It wasn’t that hard. All I had to do was… drive.

Week in and week out, I drove a Land Rover three hours north, dropped off our team member, then drove back on my own. On Thursdays I’d make the return trip, picking her up and delivering both of us back to the ship.

To me it seemed simple enough: something needs doing, I don’t see another way to do it, so I’ll just do it myself.

Just F—ing Do It, Already

I’ve had this attitude all my life, and it’s helped me accomplish a lot of things. Whenever I wanted something done, I’d find a way to make it happen.

I dropped out of high school and went straight to college. In college I learned I could take 40 credits a semester by simultaneously registering at four different institutions, instead of the 18 credits students were limited to at any single university. I liked the challenge of it. The biggest problem wasn’t passing the tests, it was trying to keep track of where I needed to be at any given time.

When I started writing, I didn’t want to spend years writing for no one without getting paid, so I figured out how to make a decent living in 279 days.

Part of the reason I went to all 50 states (and all 10 Canadian provinces!) on my first book tour was because my publisher didn’t believe I would really do it. Of course I will! It can’t be that difficult, right?

And it wasn’t difficult—just like driving up and down the country of Togo, week in and week out, on the original book tour all I had to do was go to state #1, then state #2, and so on. I had some help along the way but it was largely an independent effort.

These are the kinds of things I’m good at. I don’t question my ability to execute or implement on my own. Over the past year, though, I’ve realized how terribly limiting this ability can be.

I’m making a big mistake! And I need to correct it.

As I look back over the past few years, I can see a few big successes and a few clear failures. Short-term failure is nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s important to avoid making the same mistakes over and over.

I can also see a pattern: I build a business to a certain level and then leave it to do something else. I work as hard as I can for a short period of time, and then I experience a certain amount of initial success, and then I lose my motivation for it. It’s happened over and over.

On the surface, there’s nothing terribly wrong with this pattern. It worked for a long period of time as I was hopping from project to project. It’s just … no longer … acceptable.

It’s not only a personal failure; it also affects other people.

Perhaps I could accept this weakness if it was merely a personal limitation. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and I’ve always been better at the solo game. If you wanted someone to drive you around Togo for six hours a day, I was your guy.

But the bigger problem is that this weakness now affects far more people than just myself. I’m letting down the community! There is so much around here that doesn’t live up to the standard that readers deserve!

Last year when I was on tour for The $100 Startup I received dozens of invitations to visit other groups and cities. The co-hosts were able and willing to put things together… but I was too busy to sort it out.

Meanwhile, other people wanted to host their own meetups—a brilliant idea, since I wouldn’t need to be there for them and they could happen independently. But again, I was too busy to create a plan, so the idea floundered.

I’ve seen this pattern in most businesses or projects I start: lots of initial enthusiasm followed by a lack of good follow-up on my part. There are a couple of exceptions that keep things running, thankfully, but the clear pattern is that I start things and then move on without taking the time to create real structure that will allow the project to grow further.

It’s time to make some changes to that pattern.

The Plan (Now hiring! Or at least, soon…)

Since I wrapped up the final country in April, lots of people are asking “What’s next?”

I’ll have a new quest that starts in 2014, focused on travel and community. I’m very excited to begin… but not just yet. What I do over the next six months will allow the new quest to be fruitful and sustainable. Priority #1 is sorting this whole thing out later in the year.

The next few months are locked down tight, and I’m doing very little travel. We have 3,000 people coming to town for the biggest WDS ever in less than a month. Thankfully, we have a great crew for that, as it’s one of the few things I’ve created that I feel is somewhat sustainable.

I’m also writing a book and working with our new members of Adventure Capital (Thanks to everyone who signed up during last week’s soft launch. Everyone else, yes, you can still join.)

These three projects are big, but not overwhelming. What’s overwhelming is everything else! All the little and not-so-little things. That’s why I need help.

For the first time in forever, World Domination HQ will be hiring. My feline assistant can no longer keep up, and her sleeping hours are highly problematic.

Normally it’s good to start small, but I’d prefer to get it right. Later this year we’ll be bringing on several people to oversee much of our little corner of the world. I’ll continue to write, travel, host events, and create projects… but I won’t be the one emailing people from Senegal when they can’t find their PDF or need to change their password for something.

Most of these roles will be part-time, but they will be serious positions with profit share, an opportunity to set an independent schedule, and room to get as involved as people want to be.

I’ve long said it’s ridiculous that bloggers have interns, but I’ve been doing this for five years now, so perhaps it’s time to make some changes.

This is my goal for the second half of the year: actually create some better systems and practices in the overall operation, and get in a better place for 2014. Watch this space. It’s going to happen.

Have you ever struggled with trying to do everything yourself? If so, what did you do about it?

Comments here.

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    75 Comments

    • Danielle says:

      This sounds all too familiar…even the “Just F—ing Do It, Already”

      My problem is that because I’m so busy doing everything I end up stretching myself too thin without time for a breather. Time by myself is key, I instantly feel recharged knowing that I’ve had some “me” time. I generally have to schedule this in, otherwise it doesn’t tend to happen.

      Running has been my saviour over the last few months. This is the time when I evaluate, relieve stress and zone out. My biggest hurdle was just realising that there are some things that you can’t control and some things that you don’t need to do. You are allowed to be a little selfish now and then 🙂

    • Akinsola says:

      I am always in love with your posts, it has always been helpful.

      I have had to struggle with so many things at various times in my life, I had a frustrating time once about learning and understanding a skill, I was trying hard to do it myself but it wasn’t giving me the result until I asked a friend and wow! I had my way the same day.

    • Leah says:

      Chris, thank you for writing this post! I have (or had; I’m doing my best to keep myself accountable now) a similar sort of problem with getting excited about a project, taking on too much, getting overwhelmed, crashing and burning motivation-wise, and ultimately letting people down. I would start with the best intentions in mind, but ultimately the let-down wasn’t pleasant for me or others, and I really used to beat myself up about disappointing others, as well as myself.

      Now, my philosophy for that sort of thing is, “If you really want to do it, start it by yourself,” but at the end of it I tack on, “…but don’t be afraid to ask for help if you end up wanting to keep at it.”

      Every time I think about a new, exciting idea, I say that to myself. It really helps me focus my priorities, time and enthusiasm-wise.

    • Daniel ONeil says:

      I love your nonchalance in stating that you attended three universities and earning 40 credit hours a semester. “The biggest problem wasn’t passing the tests, it was trying to keep track of where I needed to be at any given time.” As a mere mortal, I struggled with 16-18 hours. I didn’t always work hard, but the end of the year finals were killer.

      I think the real question in hiring is are you trying to build a sustainable business or just to clone yourself. Not many people can handle 40 credit hours a semester on their own. But a team of people could easily do it.

      I suspect that your real question is do I go big and hire a team and build this into a sustainable business or do I find a new project and move my energy over to it.

      No matter what you do, your real fans will follow you wherever you go.

      Best of luck!
      Dan

    • Chris says:

      @Dan,

      Thanks. I should say, though, that my grades weren’t stellar … and nor was I attending a series of intellectually challenging institutions. That probably had a lot to do with it. 🙂

    • Thanks Chris. I’m coming up on my first year of blogging and was faced with exactly the same issues. I did hire someone and it’s working out better than I imagined. Thanks again for the post.

    • Hope it all works out as you hope it will, Chris.

    • Ridley Sophia says:

      I became an orphan at 17 and, without any extended family, I was completely alone. The number one difficulty I have faced since that day is feeling sorry for myself… the whole “why me?” syndrome. It took several years of kicking ass and making it in the world to even recognize that I WAS kicking ass and doing an awesome job at the whole making-it-on-my-own thing. Sometimes the “Why Me?”s still rear their ugly head… but now when they do I fight back with a reminder: “Why NOT me? I can obviously handle whatever life throws at me! And seriously… I could be living in Rwanda. Get over yourself – it isn’t that bad!”

    • Leslie says:

      I recently took the Myers-Briggs and one thing that taking it has helped me realize is that the line “we all have different strengths” is true. I might have parroted it before, but now I believe it. Personally, I have fabulous ideas, but don’t always follow through on them. It isn’t necessarily a personal failing, it is just not my strong suit.

      If you are able to “spread the wealth” by hiring people to take care of the aspects that you no longer enjoy or have the time for, I think that is fantastic.

    • Brittany Barnett says:

      You better believe I will be applying when you start hiring. You’re a serious inspiration, and I can not wait to work for you (wishful thinking?). How will we know when we can start applying?

    • Ree Klein says:

      I’ve read several posts of yours over the last year that feel that you’re beating up on yourself. It’s one thing to recognize a weakness or call a failure what it is…a failure, but you’ve created and done some amazing things; stuff most people can’t even dream up!

      I really admire your willingness to take responsibly and own up, but I think you should cut yourself some slack…if anyone deserves it, it’s you!

      Thanks for all you do,
      Ree

    • Chris, perfect timing! Ahhh, I’m in the process of finding an assistant to help me. It’s quite frightening because I’m used to doing a lot on my own and sometimes feel I won’t be able to find someone who can do what I do, but I find myself not able to connect and build my business as much when I’m doing a lot of execution work (which is not one of my top strengths). I’m ready to go full on with help, and I’m sure with your goal to get sustainable systems in place, you will find that you will flourish even more (and I will remind myself of that too!).

    • Hope says:

      Yes.

      This is problematic of creative souls. It’s the double edged sword creative hold. The great ideas are the seeds that must be tended. It’s only that we sometimes lack the support that sustains the project.

      Asking for help is the primary step to being even more successful at Hatching A Plan. A good accountability partner is good for this.

      Hatched!

    • Tanner says:

      Hey Chris, good for you on being self-aware and being willing to do something you normally wouldn’t do for the good of your work. I think we all struggle with knowing what our own limitations are and doing what needs to be done to alleviate those limitations.

      I struggle with this all the time! My wife and I started a nonprofit that works in community development in Africa and it has been A LOT of work. My way of doing it has been to just do it all myself and not ask for help. Since we are doing it for free and keeping our “dayjobs” this method has proven unsustainable for us and for our work.

      As our work expands in Africa and things begin to pile up here (managing a website, doing events, press relations, fundraising, ahhhhhhh) I realize, like you, that what is best for me isn’t always best for my work.

      I am looking forward to hearing about what is next Chris and know that those of us who appreciate your work so much are always on board! Can’t wait to throw my name in the mix to work with AONC as well! Talk to you soon Chris.

    • Stuart says:

      Chris, I can absolutely relate to trying to do too much all by myself. I end up doing a lot of menial tasks that I could easily outsource that would save me a ton of time and energy. Bringing myself to actually hire an assistant, though, is tough, because I’m definitely of the mindset, “If you want something done right, then do it yourself.”

      I’m excited to hear about your 2014 project. Good luck!

    • Looks like you have so much going on besides WDS! I don’t know how you do it! July can’t come soon enough – can’t wait! Wish you many blessings in everything!

    • Welcome to nation-building. 🙂

      What you’re discovering are entrepreneurial skills versus management skills. Once, back in the 80s, I was a front desk volunteer at a songwriter academy who suddenly found himself one of the only men standing when it went broke and they fired everyone. By jumping in and doing stuff myself, we saved the academy.

      And it was great for awhile.

      But at a certain point, we discovered we were spinning our wheels. It was because once you build something, it needs to be managed. It’s no less a grand task than running around the globe or driving a car. I think you know this already.

      Rather than thinking of it as something you’re relegated to, think of it as the same sort of challenge as the others you’ve conquered. If you apply yourself to learning management with the same enthusiasm as you do other things, maybe you can even find ways to innovate as you go along.

      And we will not only enjoy your effort, but we’ll learn a lot, too.

    • Claire B says:

      If you ever need a British-based secretary…give me a shout 🙂

    • Chris says:

      @Claire,

      OK! 🙂

    • Gail Mooney says:

      I have struggled with “trying to do it all” because I’ve been self-employed my entire life. Either I haven’t had the funds to hire someone or I’ve always given myself the excuse that I can do it better myself. Nowadays, I tell myself that maybe someone isn’t doing something exactly the way I might do it – but whatever it is, is getting done and I’m able to focus on other things.

    • Sherold says:

      Chris – thank you for writing a behind the scenes of how it’s working for you. It sounds as if you are a type 7 – the Epicure – on the Enneagram. Always on to the next great thing and loses interest in the follow-up. Check it out and read the practices for a 7 if this is your type. I identified with the can do anything – just do it already. I find a way to do almost anything and therefore live a big life. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Isabelle says:

      I am a single mom, that homeschools and I have two businesses. One is a natural healthcare & wellness clinic/center and the other is for some products that I create and offer my clients.

      I always have lots to do. My *thing* is; taking time EVERYDAY to meditate and be mindful, enjoying the journey, being grateful and PLANNING! I put my priorities in order and I am pretty strick with sticking to them. I do my best to choose my (time) engagements wisely and I stay away from anything that is not necessary. Spending quality time with my son, eating well, being happy and enjoying my life is necessary. I keep my life and businesses in a limit that I can handle. When it gets to be too much, I get help, or simply downsize. I always have goals and do my best to stick to them. When things come up that I wasn’t planning on (like life can do), I deal with it the best I can and get back to my focus.

      Focus and specific goals give directions and they allow me to live on my own terms!

    • Paul says:

      Have you read the E-myth by Michael Gerber?

      I highly recommend it as your business transitions into its next phase.

      Excellent read.

    • Chris says:

      @Paul,

      Yes, I read it years ago and liked it. I guess now I have to apply it. 🙂

    • Kerwin says:

      I outsource some of the tech stuff as it gives me more time for strategy, networking and traveling.
      It’s hard to give up stuff, but we must for the greater good.

      I net you have some great stories from those weekend drives 🙂

    • Terry Jordan says:

      I love the photo that you included with this post. It really speaks volumes: the Jeep mirrors the reflections of your thoughts and explorations. You are stepping back to view your patterns and the shadows they create.

      It’s okay to take charge and get the job done, but it is also okay to ask for help when you need it. I like that you are thinking in terms of sustainability.

      Know and trust that you will discover the right time and way to enter 2014. You always do.

      Looking so forward to the WDS! It’s my first!

    • Anita says:

      Thanks for another great post, Chris! This is one that really resonates with me and made me think about more ways to be efficient in what I am doing.

      I have always believed that if you want something done, you should be willing to do it yourself and never think you are too good to do any part of it. In almost every job I have ever left, I have been told I can come back any time, because I am good at multi-tasking and completing projects.

      That said, I feel like I have backed myself into a corner with juggling so many tasks that my work quality (at day job & own projects) and my creativity have been suffering. I am trying to change the way I work before I get too burned out.

      I have been trying to simplify and streamline by combining things I can use for more than one project and deleting the rest. I have also started carrying a written planner again, because while I do have a smart phone, I have found that for me, writing it down on paper works best for me. I am getting a clearer picture of what is most effective and am working on dropping a few things so I can focus on not only what is most effective, but on the projects where other people are willing to work as a team.

    • Samantha says:

      As always, your posts come at the right time & resonate with me. I just finished up a class for my bachelors. (thought I’d squeeze one in before my trip to South Sudan in 2.5 weeks). I’m also juggling work, 4 children, a household, & trying to put a number of things into play for business opportunities in S. Sudan. My boyfriend is there & we’ve been working long distance with each other on opportunities that have presented themselves. At this point we’re trying to narrow our focus also.

      Last summer (inspired by your blog) I embarked on a 2 month trip to meet my dad’s side of the family & further my genealogy research (another project of mine). Since I work from home I can work from anywhere with internet, so I found a cabin in Tenn & an apt in IL. I made sure I’d have access to internet in both places & away I went with 3 of my kids in tow & picking my oldest one up along the way. The trip was successful, I made huge progress in my research but I still have yet to finish compiling it to share with the family.

      I know that I’ll do it, but following my trip I needed to re-set & focus on other things for awhile. That’s important too & I’m glad to see you’re taking that time also.

    • Uh, yeah, this has been a problem for me. Or I work until I muddle it all up and then give up in frustration. Going through that right now, and trying not to give up…

    • Alain says:

      “Just f**king do it” is fine for road trips and skimming through college but nothing that lasts “Just gets f**king done”.

      There is nothing wrong with hiring help but be clear why you are doing it and be prepared to let go of a LOT of control. In my case it wasn’t overcommitment or inability to do the work, I’d simply lost heart and basically didn’t want to do it anymore. Things kept rolling but the wheels fell of because it was no longer important to me. Now is the time for brutal self honesty before you have even more people dependent on you. Maybe it’s time for a walk-about rather than add more cars to the train.

      Your post reminded me of the preamble to Gerber’s E Myth.

      Only suggestion I’d make is hire full time, not part time. Full time job full time commitment – part time, particularly in Portland, folks are filling potholes in their schedule or off to Suavie when you need them.

    • Maggie McCormick says:

      Thank you so very much for this post.

    • I am not yet at your stage in the game as I am still brainstorming and working on a successful plan to break out of my corporate job and into something BIGGER. But I do understand what you are feeling because I already feel overwhelmed with too many things cluttering my mind and my time. I’m often left feeling like I am unable to accomplish what I want in regards to ideas I have and goals I want to achieve.

      Mainly, I constantly struggle with the desire to have more time to work on my plans – building them and breathing life into them. For 8-9 hours a day I am stuck in a desk job with little time to focus on things that truly matter to me. Two to three hours of my day is spent commuting to that desk job while I day dream about what it would be like to wake up in the morning and spend the day doing what I want to do.

      This state is very frustrating and limiting in itself because I know that feeling overwhelmed quickly leads to feeling depressed, which, for me, fosters resignation and inaction. I’ve learned that, while I may have multiple goals and things that I want to spend my time on, I need to pick at least one and focus.

      Will be keeping an eye out for those job postings!

    • Susan says:

      Chris, you have illuminated an important principle of effective leadership. I have observed that there are dreamers/imagineers who like to come up with wildly creative ideas and launch them (architects) and there are implementers/developers/builders (the construction crew). The brilliance of the best leaders is recognizing their strengths and those of others in order to build a team with complementary skills/passions that can see projects through a whole lifecyle.
      I have been a volunteer the last couple of years with one of the most visionary, charismatic leaders I have ever known. This leader has brilliant ideas which have totally revitalized and transformed our org. He is also amazing in his skills rallying people around his vision. But after the idea stage – he drops the ball. His saving grace – he hired a woman whose personality/skills are night and day from his. He is warm, passionate, connecting. The woman he hired – a cold fish, ex military and every bit the stereotype of a rigid, rule driven leader. She thrives on implementation, details, plans and she brilliantly brings his ideas to life. It has been a very successful collaboration of complementary strengths.

    • Josh says:

      Chris I completely empathize and often feel the same way: “I work as hard as I can for a short period of time, and then I experience a certain amount of initial success, and then I lose my motivation for it. It’s happened over and over.”

      I’ve been working on building more sustainable teams but it’s still a challenge to find a way to be able to design the novelty and excitement that people like us need, and to make sure the vision and future matches what will excite our own intuitive and heart-driven motivation.

      Good luck figuring it out!

    • Shelly says:

      What a great spot to be at! It’s impressive how much you can tackle in half a year…very inspiring!

    • Hailey says:

      YES!!! The simple answer, that you’ve already discovered, is to delegate. You ni longer need to prove you can do it all by yourself; you’ve proven it. Hire someone and delegate the cyclical tasks, then focus on the big picture, and go with it. Do you think Willy Wonka would have had such a killer chocolate factory if he were making all of the chocolate, by hand, by himself? Hell, no! He needed to recruit Oompa-Loompa’s. So, yeah, hire some Oompa-Loompa’s, so-to-speak, and see what your kind of “chocolate factory” you can build. 😉

    • Kat Bowers says:

      Oh, you know. After awhile, I realized I could do a lot more forming teams and delegating tasks to others that I used to do. For about 15 years I made my duckets simply getting the gigs and then having my crew do the work. I would supervise, follow-up and do all the main communications and admin.

      It does take some doing though organizing others. And people vary greatly in personalities, I think it’s about creating a “dream team.”

    • Jeremy says:

      Kudos, Chris, for being so transparent and asking yourself the hard questions. Your self-realization reminds me of this post I recently read by Michael Hyatt (michaelhyatt.com/more-of-what-you-love.html). While reading your post this word kept coming to mind. It describes your dilemma but was never mentioned by name….SCALE. All the best!

    • After designing my own yoga wear line + running & owning a retail store & a yoga studio for 5 years I’m now really happy to have scaled down to just me in my coaching business.

      Having employees, sub-contractors, part-time & full time teachers was a lot of work. During those fun 5 years I discovered that there’s a huge difference between being an entrepreneur and being a manager. I’m not a manager -never liked it- and even though I hired a manager I still had all these wonderful people working for me that I felt a sense of obligations to take good care of. Even though I had lot’s of help I think I was still a bit of a control freak 🙂

      I’m so enjoying what feels like FREEDOM now!

    • Mike says:

      I had the same experience when I was working in Zambia. Long drives are the norm for foreign workers, it seems. Changed my perspective on distance, having grown up in New England.

    • Judy says:

      Good luck, Chris. In my last “big adventure” I found managing employees to be the toughest part of the work and eventually part of its undoing. Hiring and managing well is skill, art, and luck. Finding those you trust and can rely on is hard-I believe that’s why we see so many small family businesses. A friend told me to use the 60-day probation rule. His point was that no one can keep up a facade for 60 days! Take your time finding the folks who are the right fit for you. It’s the best time you’ll spend.

    • Amy says:

      I don’t even want to tell you everything I do, because I’m not sure how I do it all myself (well–not enough sleep and a disorganized house are two factors) and nobody believes what I try to keep up with. I reached a point just last week (!!) where I realized that I couldn’t grow in my small market garden business until I paid somebody to help me. It was a big light bulb moment, and it sounds like you are reaching the same light bulb conclusion in your life, too. So, though I really can’t afford to pay somebody to help me, I can’t afford NOT to. You know? So I hired somebody to help part time and you can’t imagine how it has crystallized my thinking, my efforts, and my business. Really! I work harder and am more focused and besides–it’s fun to do twice as much in the same amount of time, and to have some company! I hope that hiring help will be a positive thing for you, too. All the best–Amy

    • wow, I’ve never been to Togo, but after reading your story I would love to visit! Thanks for sharing!

    • Craig Dewe says:

      You’ve built something amazing here Chris and it’s good to realize you’re at the next step (I would have thought you hired ages ago!). It’s making that transition from self-employment to business owner that many of us control freaks dread.

      However if you can’t let go then everything you’ve worked for will die with you (or your lack of interest). Your legacy will be defined by this community continuing no matter what your level of involvement. No easy task but fun nonetheless.

      When you’re ready I have a great VA who also believes in a life of non-conformity that I can put you in touch with. She’s been great in helping me let go and grow the business to my strengths.

    • Al says:

      Hey Chris, inspiring stuff.
      I can relate but I’ve done it the another way – I was self employed for around 8 years and kept hitting that ceiling of max output on my own until I packed it in realizing I was tired and frustrated not excelling to where I thought I should. I took a job in management and doubled the business in the first 12 months, but I was forced to hire staff to do it.. Thank the good Lord I did.

      I’m now ready to go back to being self employed.. and building the empire. Good timing on your post. I look forward to watching you take off… again.

      Al

    • Melody Prosser says:

      I struggle with the same thing, in spite of completing a book and publishing it through Amazon’s web site. I have no interest in marketing or promoting it. I can’t afford to hire someone to do that, although other projects that mean more to me personally, I would do that.

      Rather than seeing this as a shortcoming, I’m wondering how I can capitalize on this. I think it is also very common among creative people.

    • Paula says:

      Yes! The hardest part to me is switching from thinking strategically/creatively and covering the mundane tasks well. Amazed at how well you have done so! Been thinking about this a lot lately but with a bit of a diff spin – a friend of mine just wrote a book reflecting on the last decade of her life that has been committed to making a big and concrete difference through an international social enterprise she started. She is definitely in deep, committed to growing her org, a specific mission and connected to the “real” people whose lives she impacts. In contrast, I have worked on multiple projects in the same span and in looking back (to inform moving forward) reflecting on what I want my future to look like.

      I have to add that you have made a tremendous difference in so many people’s life – so I understand your reflection – but I think you’re being harsh on yourself. Some of us like to grow “new stuff” more than maintain, etc.. some of that is a style issue rather than a weakness. Exciting that you are going to make a difference exponentially, but you have been doing pretty darn good over the last few years too!

    • Thank you for another thought-provoking post! And where would that ‘apply now’ button be? 🙂

    • This is pretty exciting! I can’t wait to hear about what your assistants will be doing.

    • Maril says:

      I tend to think that for something to be done the way i want then i have to do it myself.
      That is a big mistake cause then i have not time to do everything. I think what you are trying to do is wise, but sometimes it is harder than we think!!! or it is for me.

    • Kevin says:

      Good luck! Woke up this morning with very similar thoughts on my mind and your article gave me a nice push in the right direction…I wish you all the best!

    • Can I help?? How can I help?? I’m in!!

    • Chris, I feel your pain. I, too, have this trouble with doing everything myself. I even find it hard to ask for help (for various reasons I won’t go into!). But I’m learning to change that… learning to build a support team and ask for the support! I applaud your willingness to make the changes.

      And I’m also with Ree – try not to be too hard on yourself. I find that change comes more easily when I am clear on the change needed, focused on the new goal, but compassionate towards myself in the process.

      Looking forward to seeing what you manifest next!

    • Jenny says:

      I had a great conversation the other day, discussing culture clash, work ethic, etc. over tea. But one thing that came out of the conversation was the need for intellectual or work peers.

      In the blogging world – we can find some of that online.
      But in other ways, in the physical world – we need our peers, other people with work ethic, a drive to do more, help each other grow. What my friend and I concluded was despite great independent streaks – we both do much better when we can work with a group of our peers. Positive, driven peers.

      You can talk about leaving a job and setting off on your own, and that’s great, especially to get away from a peer group that holds you back. But not having one – or not having one in a physical, there in person sense can also be very difficult.

      I hope your choice to add to your team provides a positive peer group to you and relieves some of the work burden.

    • Lisa B says:

      Ha! You’re going to need a team just to handle all the applications. I know a good VA in Australia…

    • Ruth says:

      I’ve often struggled to do everything myself. I took on an apprentice of sorts and then after two years she got so good she just does her own thing now 😉 I’m busy with a new apprentice now…but the other thing I did when I found things were too much was just.stop. I decided I didn’t HAVE to do anything. I could choose what it was I wanted to do and not do. So I did. And didn’t – if you get me. I admire you greatly though, because I think what you’re doing is much, much braver. x Roof

    • Marta DeGraw says:

      Thank you for yet another thought-provoking post, Chris. It’s such a pleasure to be part of your community and receive these honest glimpses into your life as you tackle project after project, head on.

      I echo other commenters and wish you the very best with your next challenge! And I’d love to help out behind the scenes, too–can’t wait to learn how I could contribute to your next success! Like Andrew, above, and many others, I’m in!!

    • Robin says:

      Quick question: do you ever rest?

    • Chris says:

      @Robin,

      Relaxing stresses me out.

    • carol ann gingras says:

      I’m new to your blogging site so was a little surprised by the sharing you were doing in this latest blog. Not many people open their hearts and minds like you have done, even though we all have foibles.

      I was also surprised that you are hiring an “intern” to help you overcome your weaknesses and give you some much needed, consistent help. In my experience, interns are people with university/college degrees who could be earning a salary if the business world hadn’t decided to delay their professional lives by offering only internships, sometimes, many internships…

      People who have degrees are already qualified to work. They don’t need an unpaid internship. They may never have worked in the specific job they are hired to do but they have the transferable skills and abilities to get the job done. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be taken on as interns.

      So, why are you taking on an intern instead of hiring someone with a salary? In case you think I am one of those interns, I am not. I’m 64 years old and dismayed that so many young people have to put their lives on hold, sometimes for several years, because they can’t get a paying job after they graduate.

    • Chris says:

      @Carol Ann,

      Welcome! Glad to have you around.

      I’m not hiring an intern—I’ll be hiring several part-time people for good wages and (in some cases) a profit share.

    • Sara says:

      Chris, Congrats on your commitment to put sustainable systems in place! Kudos to you for recognizing that need. A bit of advice to assist you — remember that old habits die hard, and that no matter how many great people you hire, the change must come from you, not them. Watch yourself to catch yourself falling into the habit of doing things yourself. This may be hard at first, as is any change in habits.

      I was once hired by a business owner who recognized this same need and hired me to create systems for the business. But after several months it became clear to me that they preferred to operate the way they always had, and few systems actually got put in place, I just helped put out the fires they created as their way of operating. Make sure your willingness to change is a deep commitment, not simply an intellectual one. Best of luck!

    • Two of my favorite sayings:
      1. Character is the ability to stick with a project long after the mood has passed.
      2. There are no good ideas. There is only good execution.

      Not sure where either of those came from and I’ve seen different iterations, but they apply well here.

    • Rebecca says:

      Sometimes you have no choice but, to try and do it all. I try not to but, sometimes as the saying goes “if you want something done you have to do it yourself”. I hope you will be at least letting your fellow followers in world domination apply for your position(s) that you will have available because I would love to apply.

      Thanks and take care.

    • It’s not that I don’t have the ability to ask for help – I would relish it! – it’s just finding someone you can trust. And, if I had a boatload of $, I would hire all kinds of social media and marketing gurus to get my businesses to the next step! In the meantime, I keep teaching myself and gleefully look forward to the day of having a team.

    • Yvonne says:

      Yes, I have struggled with doing everything myself. Perhaps I am super stubborn or just faithless in other people’s abilities/agendas. I was so busy with my pet sitting business a few years ago that I could barely keep my day job, yet refused to hire help (which would have allowed me to quit said day job and rapidly grow my LLC). Even having to turn favored clients away since their vacations overlapped with other favored clients vacations. Ugh! Thus my business hasn’t expanded much, which is unfortunate because nearly everyone I meet needs a pet sitter for vacations, business travel… I guess it comes down to trust. Trust is huge in my line of work. Trust in employees so essential for career growth or just relationships in general… I guess even further than that the root cause is fear… It’s taken a long time to build my clientele and I savor them and their homes and pets and I don’t want anyone coming in and being dishonest and throwing a hex into those delicate relationships I’ve built!

    • Alixandrea says:

      Yet another hand up for a job here! I’d love to be some sort of VA for you Chris, you’re an inspiration! 🙂

    • Chel says:

      Interesting one – again.
      Several above have summarised my thoughts.
      Architects and builders complement eachother.
      Great leaders make good followers.
      Ergo: who will you be willing to follow, complementing your own abilities?
      As for asking for help…aaarghh.. too independent to do that until I’m starting to come unstuck. A repeating lesson that one.
      Go easy on yourself, all the best. Chel.

    • Curtis says:

      It’s nice to hear this from someone , well not just someone, rather someone who has already made an impact on so many others. I guess we are all human after all. Inspiring article.

    • Ciara Conlon says:

      Chris,
      great to read such an honest piece of writing please don’t be so hard on yourself you have achieved great things and if you weren’t the person you are you wouldn’t have impacted so many lives.

      I’m a blogger from Ireland and I’m also a coach, trainer and speaker. At the beginning of the year I realized to keep growing I needed help. I found a great Virtual assistant to help me. But was too busy to outline her job so I kept doing it all myself ! Yeah pretty dumb but worse because I’m a Productivity Coach! I’m winding down for a summer in Spain but when I come back I WILL hire her and get more stuff done.

      Oh and what I also did was to simplify, I keep reassessing to see what I can eliminate from my day, the crappy things that suck our time and don’t add value.

      Good Luck

    • Victoria says:

      Thank you – I always thought it was an Aries thing! I solved the problem by telling my husband he could quit his job if he became my right hand man – so far it’s working out well and we haven’t killed each other yet!

    • ak says:

      Great Read Chris! Feels like my life 😉 I’ve changed my country of residence three times and moved to a small community down under. I simultaneously work on five different projects as there’s a lot of work to do in my community in terms of working on promoting culture diversity and tolerance, empowering people to live better lifestyle, empowering and educating people to run better creative businesses and many more.. There only is a handful of us and we all have families, jobs to do and lives to live but we do want the city to grow into directions the city forgot it had. We do struggle from small numbers of activists and from a ‘bystander effect’. The town is holding hard onto its past not wanting the present to evolve into new future. What do we do about it? We’re still there working hard and promoting new ways.

    • Jim S. says:

      Chris,
      If you deem it possible, I am greatly interested in being a useful help for you here in southern Ontario, Canada.
      It would be similar to cliff-diving for me (which I have never done) but I do find it exciting.
      Thanks for your inspiring articles on what can be done.

    • Susan Barry says:

      Well thank God. I’ve been wondering when you would you would realize that not doing it all yourself is not the same as becoming The Man. 🙂

    • Chris Guillebeau says:

      Thanks, everyone. So glad to know you all are reading. 🙂

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