Once You Have Done It Once, You Have Only Done It Once!
Recently, I stopped by my friend Fleck’s (yes, that is his name) company that he started over 20 years ago. His company, Idea Planet (www.ideaplanetlp.com), makes collector’s Limited Edition figures for video games. These are the figurines that you might see on a shelf, proudly displayed by a true gamer. Fleck makes all of these incredible artistic figurines in China (tariffs are killing his biz, just kidding) and I have been lucky enough to go to China with him twice to see how all of these incredible action figures are made.
I have experienced first-hand the extensive process of making molds, selecting materials, assembling pieces, hand painting the figurines, managing QA, dealing with Chinese Factories with a 13-hour time difference, etc. And these steps are just the tip of the iceberg—I won’t overwhelm you with all the details! While Idea Planet has been doing this for 20 years and has manufactured millions of figures over the years, each project is so unique. I said to Fleck years ago, “Once you have done one, you have done one!”
While I have always looked at Fleck’s business as a series of discrete “one-off” projects, it occurred to me that our lives function like that as well. I am not talking about the once in a lifetime experience or a super special occasion I am talking about what we experience on a regular basis, even including the daily mundane things that occupy our life. We seem to go on autopilot as we navigate the simple, or maybe even complex, tasks that we repeat and repeat again and again. No need to think about how to accomplish this activity or really listen to my friend, because she has told me a version of this story countless times. Does this sound familiar?
We travel through our days repeating so many activities at work and in our personal lives, and we don’t have to give any real thought or attention to these moments we experience, day in and day out. Why do we do this? Well, we have been there, and done that so many times we feel that there is nothing new to experience. If you agree with this, please hit the pause button now! Because you are missing out on something really important: it is called “being present.” We fly through the things we have done before, like thinking about the last 20 times I gave this presentation, or the last time my kid got into this type of trouble (excuse me?!!? Obviously not your personal experience lol), or isn’t this the same thing I tried to tell my friend two weeks ago (enough examples, you get the picture). So, that is when the lightning bolt hit me, and I realized that once I have done something once, I have just done it once—-do I need to repeat this, or can you just repeat it in your head—try it!
Just like the collector’s Limited Edition figurines that Fleck makes in China, every experience, no matter how many times you have encountered it, occurs at a unique point in time. And each point in time is different than the last time you did this “activity.” Even if I am having what feels like the same conversation with a friend about his marriage, no matter what, it is still different. Everything from his mood, my mood, the words used in the discussion, emotions, etc. have shifted. So, once I realized everything is actually different and not what it was three weeks ago when we had the same or very similar conversation, I realized my focus needed better focus. That is, what I really needed to do was focus, or be in the moment, and have presence. I recognized that by treating so many experiences as repeats, I have been missing out on so much. And I am not just talking about being present for conversations with friends and colleagues or during that presentation you have done time and time again; I am thinking about everyday simple moments. I have lived in my house for almost 24 years, so I have experienced 23 springs in my backyard. As I sat on my porch swing yesterday, I noticed the intense green of the new foliage, the gentle sway of the branches, and the colors of new flowers like it was the first time I was looking at them. This is a scene I have witnessed countless times, yet I felt like I was seeing it all so differently. Was it the light, time of day, my emotions, the breeze? Yes, to all of the above, and the truly unique element was that I was present in the moment. Wow! I then realized how much I am missing in life by not being fully present all of the time. All these things that I have viewed as repeat situations are really unique events, different in countless ways—I just happened to be missing the differences, because my mind was not focused.
So, once you have done something once, no matter what it is or what it pertains to, you have just done it once. Think about approaching everything you do as if it the first time. While you can use that inner wisdom to guide you through similar situations, just realize your presence is critical to having a unique experience at this particular time. Like when I was sitting in my backyard, it was all new to me. In fact, as I write this blog and it is raining in my backyard, I am seeing a fresh view and nothing like what I saw yesterday. Try and apply this to everything you do in life and see for yourself. There is such great joy in doing something for the first time, and now you have the power to do that over and over again. Breathe, focus, pay attention, be present in the moment, and you will see new things in virtually everything you do. Once you have done it once, you have done it once, and the next time you do it, live it for the first time all over again.