“The thing about big projects is that they tend to be less like one, giant to-do list, and more like landing planes – lots of planes – jet liners, twin prop Cessnas, helicopters – that just keep coming.
With large projects there are always things flying through the air that you must carefully place on the ground.
Some planes need to be coordinated one at time, and others come at you all at once. Some come down nice and easy, and some have turbulent landings.
The thing about landing planes, however, is that you never really feel ‘finished’ in the same way you do after checking everything off your to-do list, because you know that there is always another plane on the horizon.
Airports donʼt shut down and neither do big projects.
The planes just keep coming.
After auditions, you have to figure out wardrobe. Once you have the wardrobe finished, you need to walk everyone through their paces. Once youʼre on set, everyone needs to be directed. And then once you start you shooting, you realize all the changes you need to make.
Plane after plane after plane.
For a long time I felt defeated by the onslaught of planes. It seemed like nothing was ever really getting done.
And if by some off chance I was beginning to feel like I could breathe again, or like we were actually getting somewhere, inevitably some other problem would occur.
And then I thought,
This is the creative process, stop complaining! Itʼs messy! Itʼs rarely mappable! It is always dynamic and ever-changing!
Obviously you make plans, but factors outside of your control change all the time. Locations fall through. People donʼt deliver. Life happens.
So instead of holding my breath until ‘things are done,’ Iʼm starting to breathe while Iʼm ‘doing the things.’
I do my stretches and I turn into an air traffic controller. I do it with joy and excitement because, Iʼm getting to land planes!
As Seth Godin says, we should be so lucky as to be people who get to solve interesting problems.
Landing planes means weʼre not on the sideline of ideation but weʼre executing, which means weʼre getting closer to making our visions come to life.
It will always be hard, but it should also be fun.
Every landed plane deserves some kind of celebration.
Whether it be a quick toast or a high five, you absolutely must celebrate along the way.
One last thought on landing planes. As you put those puppies on the ground, know that you have a choice. Landing planes can be exhausting and defeating, OR it can be exciting and hopeful.
Each new plane coming your way can feel like itʼs driving you deeper into the ground of despair as you cry out, ‘No, not another one!’ Or, you can see these planes as yet another amazing chance for you to be better, to grow, to try, and to get you one step closer to making your dream a reality.
Breathe. Do your stretches. Donʼt freak out. Land those planes. Celebrate each one that hits the tarmac.
Then repeat, repeat, repeat.”
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Above is my favorite excerpt from Blaine Hogan‘s book, Untitled. In ministry, I often felt exactly how he described—nothing ever really seemed “finished”. Each completion or victory would just bleed straight into the ongoing work that still needed to be done. I so appreciate Blaine’s challenge to breathe “while I’m doing the things” and to find ways to celebrate the accomplishments along the way. A good and timely word for my heart.
Anything stand out to you in this passage?