Start Small

Founder of the worldwide movement, To Write Love On Her Arms, Jamie Tworkowski reminisced tonight of how the whole thing started with a chance meeting, exactly ten years ago.

“Big things start small.”

How often do we look to the future, hoping to be a part of something big, not knowing how to get there?

Big things take time.

We can sit back and ask what good it would do to try something new or break into an arena where so many have come and gone before — where you think you might fail — or we can listen to ‘The Answer’:

That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

— Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1900)

Start writing your verse.

Don’t think too hard about it. You can make corrections, later.

Just start writing.


It’s More Than Just Good Marketing



I’d be willing to bet that few people realize the origins of the name of the shoe company, Nike.

“Just do it,” isn’t simply a great marketing phrase; it’s something that the ancient Greeks probably found themselves yelling out, fairly often, to their goddess of victory: Nike.

You see, Nike had this issue with being inconsistent in doling out victories to her people. She didn’t always come through. She could totally make it happen any time she wanted to — it was her job to bring home the win — but who knows if she was spiteful, lazy, or just not really an Auburn fan? (Too soon?)

Often, we have that same victory in our hands, but let it slip right through our fingers. It could be something “little,” like always being on time to school and work, or it could be something much bigger, like losing that weight you’ve been trying to lose for years, getting yourself out of a mountain of debt, or raising your kids up to be responsible adults.

We frequently have the ability to do whatever our situation requires, but we give up in enough small ways, that before we know it, Nike has swooshed away.

I think we all have that one thing that comes to mind that we’re letting get the best of us. There’s plenty more on the list, but there’s always that one thing we need victory in.

So do it. Take the lead. Win that prize.

Whether it’s making things right with a distant family member, sticking to a hard promise, quitting a bad habit, or writing a blog (ouch!):

Stick to what you set out to do. Be a man or woman of your word.



At a local college, the marquee currently reads: “Success comes after you stop making excuses.”

“But I’m not making excuses,” you might say.  “I just don’t have enough time/talent/money/opportunity/friends/ space/______.”  Fill in the blank.

First, I’d respond by saying that you should never start a sentence with the word “but.”  It’s grammatically improper.  The next thing I would tell you, however, is that you’re making excuses for your excuses.

Time is bought with prioritization.
Talent is bought with practice.
Money is bought with hard work.
Opportunity is bought with open eyes.
Friends are bought with friendliness.
Space is bought with cleanliness.

You can always start somewhere.

We all have dreams that we want to see succeed, but you can’t be so focused on the end goal and the daunting journey that may lie ahead, that you lose sight of your first step.

Success isn’t always graduating with your degree.  Success isn’t always your business becoming publicly traded.  Success isn’t always your blog getting a million views.  Success isn’t always winning an election.

Sometimes, success is just taking your first step and watching what happens.

You’ve Done Better

Do you know that one thing that you’re really good at?  Everybody does, even though you might not see it.  If you haven’t found yours yet, keep looking — it’s there.

Sometimes, though, you find yourself taking way longer to do it than usual, and when it’s done, you’re not pleased at all with the outcome.  I’ve been there.  You over-criticize yourself, knowing that last time it only took you two hours instead of five, back in March you did it for $20 worth of materials instead of $40, the details were that much clearer in your last one, or you hit all the right notes when you were practicing that morning.

Stop it.

There are always peaks and valleys.  When you get good at something, you will always have done it better at some point.  And guess what?  You’ll find that there will be a time where you’ll exceed the “before.”  It will come if you’re patient and diligent.

In the meantime, show your finished product to someone else who isn’t as good at it.  Guaranteed, if they’re honest (and not a total jerk), they’ll see that talent within you and compliment you on it.  Here’s the key:

Don’t shut it down.

Do not reply with, “I’ve done better.”  Do not even think about opening with all the things you see wrong with what you’ve just done.  You’ll make it awkward for the person you’re talking to, and you’re deliberately killing not only your own self-esteem, but the likelihood that the person will ever let you know how they feel in the future.

Say, “Thank you.”

Yes, you’ve done better, but you’ll learn to do better again.

God is like Google Maps

Did you or anyone you know ever own one of those TomTom GPS units in the early 2000s?

(For younger readers — yes — that was a thing; people used to own a separate device from their cell phone, that they would keep in their car, and its sole purpose was to give directions. This is mind-blowing, I know. Remind me to tell you about desk clocks.)

If you used one, you might remember how it would tell you that you had deviated from the course laid out for you:


It was as if the whiny, overconfident voice of condescension was telling you, “Hey there. Hi. In case you didn’t realize it, you’re not paying attention, and you made the wrong move. I’ll help you out on this one, since you seem incapable.”  The oddly-effeminate-sounding and twice-named ‘Tom’ didn’t know if you stopped following along or you stopped for gas — it went straight for, “Idiot.”

If you remember those days, then at the turn of this decade, Google Maps for your smartphone was a life-changer.  Veer off-course?  Miss your exit?  Making a move in Words With Friends when you should’ve been making a left?

“Continue for 800 feet, then make a U-Turn.”

That voice isn’t going to make you feel stupid; it’s going to recognize that you made a simple mistake and show you the quickest way to get back on track.  It’s there to guide the way and quietly make sure you know the right road — the road that will get you to where you need to go.

Now, back to desk clocks…

Bad Work

I spoke with someone last week who told me, in his professional photography days, he was mentored by the then-editor of Vogue.  One day, he asked his teacher how one could ascend the ranks and attain such a lofty title.  His advice?

“Never show anyone your bad work.”

Let’s throw aside the practicality of that advice, for a moment, as it pertains to your job and career, and other things that affect your paycheck.  It’s sensible advice, to an extent, but I think we often find ourselves applying that ‘wisdom’ in all the wrong places.

Take that word, “anyone,” and replace it with something more personal:

Never show your [spouse] your bad work.
Never show your [friends] your bad work.
Never show your [church] your bad work.
Never show your [kids] your bad work.

Those sentences worry me, because they remove the inclination to be real with people — to show others that you don’t have it all together.  That’s okay; none of us have it all figured out.

That Vogue editor knew he had “bad work,” not only in photography, but in other areas of his life.  Do you think he never showed his mistakes to his family?  I certainly hope that’s not the case.

No one is perfect.  Don’t be afraid to be honest about your shortcomings and find comfort in your community.  Learn from others and laugh at the experience.  Show others that it’s okay to fail.  Everyone does.