The Do Lectures 2009 - Take The First Step

Neil Cocker's boots at Do Lectures photo

Image via - Thinking about taking the first step at The Do Lectures

So you've set your BHAG - the Big Hairy Audacious Goal and you've turned off your TV. It's a good start and now you're ready to start doing, but how? Why? Where? With what? Arghhh... the fear of the blank white page can scare the bravest among us into inventive procrastination. So, lesson no. 3 from The Do Lectures 2009 is 'Take the first step', otherwise known as 'Laughing in the face of fear!' Yes, in order to start you've got to begin, or is that the other way around?The V1 Moment
Andy Middleton, master of ceremonies, facilitator par excellence and co-pilot of The Do Lectures, started the event by asking when is your V1 moment? V1 being the speed which an airplane must exceed in order to take off. Before passing V1 you are still on the ground, after V1 you are in the air flying away to your chosen destination. Taking the first step and your V1 moment are one in the same, the moment you launch yourself off the starting block and set off in the direction of your BHAG. (Amendment: both David Hieatt, co-founder of Howies and The Do Lectures, and Andy Middleton mentioned the V1 moment.)

Andy Middleton Do Lectures photo

Facilitator par excellence Andy Middleton at The Do Lectures
Speak Up
Mountaineer Paul Deegan took his first step at the age of 17 when, as a lowly Saturday boy in a climbing equipment store, he found the courage to speak up and propose a clean-up expedition to Mount Everest to the boss of the company. "Shut up Deegan!", his colleagues told him, but his boss Nick Steven took him seriously. A year later, at 18 years old, Deegan was leading the expedition with pro-mountaineer John Barry to Everest, where they succeeded in cleaning up 35 years' worth of mountaineering rubbish at Everest Base Camp.

Pursue Your Passion
There is no reason says Deegan not to pursue your passion, all the usual excuses of not enough time or money, or being too young or too old are just other ways of saying, "What if I fail?", "What if I get laughed at?" The overwhelming feeling of the task ahead can be paralysing, but breaking it all down to taking the first step is the way forward. Alastair Humphreys, said the most important and difficult moment of his four year bike ride around the world was saying goodbye to friends and family and biking away into the distance. It was a terrible wrench, but once he had done it he was on his way, he had passed his V1 moment and there was no going back.

Paul Deegan at The Do Lectures photo

Mountaineer Paul Deegan at The Do Lectures
Good business sense
Adam Lowry, of Method cleaning products, uses the idea of taking the first step as just good business sense. When Method wanted to transition their delivery trucks from gas to biodiesel the big trucking company said no way. So Method persuaded the company just to give it a trial run starting with 20% of the fleet. It turned out that the trucking company gained 15% mileage benefit, which means they're happy to increase the implementation to 50% this year. He advises everyone to start small with the first step, prove the business case and then expand.

The first step has to lead you somewhere
Other big first steps we heard about at The Do Lectures included Alice Taylor's wildly successful experiment to create educational computer games for kids at Channel 4, which had previously only ever made TV programs. Michael Pawlyn leaving Grimshaw Architects (Eden Project) to set up his own practice Exploration, so he could follow his passion for biomimicry. Duke Stump leaving Nike to work for Seventh Generation. Farmer Gerald Miles protesting his neighbours plan to plant GM crops next to his organic farm, which lead to GM crops being banned in Wales.

How are you going to make your start?

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The Do Lectures 2009 - Take The First Step
So you've set your BHAG - the Big Hairy Audacious Goal and you've turned off your TV. It's a good start and now you're ready to start doing, but how? Why? Where?