Win the Day

An interesting confluence of events led me to this concept.  First, I’ve been reinvigorated with the spirit of the Romans by listening to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. Second, I had a rare opportunity to have a conversation with a young creator, and when I say young, I mean a kid writing and drawing a deep complex story in comic book form.  He is tackling both the writing and drawing and doing it with a proper amount of passion.  In general I would not have found a reason to link these events except as I was talking to this young creator I realized he was in the midst of the mistakes I always make and it made me reflect on these ancient Roman generals who were tasked with immense nearly impossible duties and succeeded marvelously.

Win the day.  Distilled from general Roman military wisdom, the concept is simplistic and would make for a pretty dumb long term war strategy but I think it is very appropriate for any massive task in our lives. My young creator friend struggled to understand his entire world and story before committing to the task of creating it. “I know the beginning and I know the end, I just don’t know what happens in between.”

I myself have begun many projects knowing the steps of how to start it and knowing what I want as a finished product but having no clue as to what happens in the middle.  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by that lack of knowledge and shelve the project.  Othertimes I muddle along, alter my expectations of the end result and call it done but don’t feel good about it.

The Roman generals were often tasked with ‘stop the Carthaginians’ or some other abstract nearly impossible sounding goal and instead of hemming and hawing about how to achieve it, they realized that to accomplish these tasks, they needed to succeed at hundreds of smaller tasks. While never losing sight of the end result, they fought each day to win that day.  And sometimes winning the day meant being able to fight the next day and nothing more.  When working on massive projects that seem beyond our range of skills, it is important to remember this lesson, focus on what can be accomplished today.  What can be done right now to ‘win the day’?

I’m still in the process of a career hunt and it has become daunting. A recent temp job left me doubting my goals, doubting my abilities, and doubting whether I will ever find a comfortable place in a traditional workplace. I started looking at the idea of finding a career as this massive wall that needed to be scaled all at once. It went from an abstract obstacle to feeling very tangible to me.

Finding a career is about winning the day and letting the future take care of itself. It seems a bit cavalier but when I think in terms of a big picture I feel overwhelmed and ‘not up to the task’, not realizing that as I go through the motions and win the day each and every day with small attainable goals that feed into the larger end result, I will develop the confidence and knowledge to make it happen.    I shared this advice to my young creator friend, letting him know that his doesn’t have to draw perfectly to start his work, he doesn’t have to know everything about his world before starting, that these things improve and develop over time as he creates.

What have you done to win this day?

One thought on “Win the Day

  1. I really like this. As someone who usually obsesses about planning for every contingency, mentally calculating every possible outcome and having a game plan for each scenario, I can easily get stuck in that mud when planning new creative projects. The concept of just getting through “the now” and winning the day is something I’ve been trying to use more often and it has worked well.

    In a similar vein, a friend of mine recently told me how he deals with his drive for perfectionism getting in the way of progress. He said “sometimes you just have to let it suck and move on.” So when perfect is the enemy of good, just get it done so that you can make some progress. He still has no idea how much that simple little statement helped me.

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