Me, and a lot of other editors, like to say that knowing an NLE is just another tool in your tool belt. I like to take that analogy and go a step further. Every effect you learn to apply, software trick you implement, skill you acquire, connection you make, value you create for others and anything else you can think of that works towards improving yourself is a tool. Your tool belt consists of all of these. Each tool preforms a certain action whenever you are working on a project.

With your fully loaded tool belt you can build all sorts of things. The majority of time we tackle two types of projects. The first project is something simple, let’s say a chair if we can turn my analogy into something physical. We know there are four legs, a seat and a back to it. We have at least a rough blueprint we can follow or can easily find someone (or a YouTube video) to guide us. The other type of project is to build more tools! We build ourselves another screwdriver or a hammer or drill bit. These two types of projects pay our bills (barely) and (we hope) make our bosses happy. Are you happy though? If you are anything like me then you might not always be satisfied with the things you are building and their outcomes. Do they have enough reach? Do they improve my life or someone else’s life substantially?

Sure, we’re content after we sell off our chair or put away our screwdriver. We sold enough to pay off the mortgage this month or make ourselves more valuable candidates for a future job by having more tools. What we built was average. Deep down that’s not what we want. That’s not why we do what we do. We want incredible. As I lay here at 11:00PM drafting this on my phone in bed with my wife and dog already asleep long ago I’m reminded about how much incredible I want in my life and how little I am doing about it. For now…

Every once in awhile you might have a brief moment of bravery and dive in on a new project without any blueprint whatsoever. It’s going to take every tool you own to get you through it. These projects are that incredible, intangible thing we are missing in our usual work. These projects will in all likelihood fulfill our mental/emotional needs and our financial needs. It’s scary. You don’t know what you’re doing and you could fail miserably. I don’t think you will though. I think we all can create incredible things.

We often spend so much time acquiring more and more tools or building more and more chairs that we never stop to start building these blueprint-less projects. We think if we just learn one more skill then that’ll push us over the edge to get that extra couple thousand dollars a year. Does that work? Maybe. What’s the difference between $55k and $58k? Not much over 26 pay periods (it’s actually $115.38 pre-tax). And do you really care about what you just learned? Most likely not. All you want to do is create unique, meaningful work and provide for your family or future family. You already have enough tools and if you don’t, then you’ll pick them up on the fly.

I have utterly failed at this recently. The projects I’ve been taking on either have blueprints that I know or are just adding tools to my tool belt. Next week I have at least one if not two huge endeavors to announce. I will be using my entire tool belt for what I have coming up. And I’m doing it all without a blueprint and scared that I’ll fail. This is the only way if I want to achieve incredible.

This has been keeping me up for nights on end for as long as I can remember. What keeps you up at night? What are you doing about it? Are you striving for incredible? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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