Starting Again

The blank page isn’t always blank

forget the ink, the milk, the blood—
all was washed clean with the flood
we rose up from the falling waters
the fallen rain’s own sons and daughters

and none of this, none of this matters.

Don Paterson, Rain

Time and again in life we need to start again. The blank page of the restart is hard and disappointing, but every time we start again we do so with the knowledge, experience and networks of our previous attempts.

Starting Over

The Pandemic is forcing many people to start over again. Jobs are gone. Businesses are gone. Relationships have broken down. For many there is an ongoing health battle that will require a new start too. At the easiest end of this restart, my community of Melbourne is restarting lockdown in an effort to get on top of the virus’ spread in the community.

Starting over again always begins with a sense of disappointment. We ask ourselves the usual hard questions each a recrimination: why me? do I really have to do this again? can’t I get a pass? The answers always come back we have to do it all again. Major restarts are wrenching and dramatic but in reality so much of life is doing the same things again, just better. Those who have the greatest success accumulate the gradual improvement in each restart and each redo.

Especially in corporate life with its restructures, changes of strategy and changes of management. Doing over can be a regular phenomenon. The opportunity is to ensure that each time we restart we widen the circle of engagement, learn a little more and shift the opportunity to make progress. If it feels like it’s going in circles at least make the circle wider each time and perhaps gain some elevation.

Better This Time

Each restart is not a blank page. If you can recall back to the first time, you will remember you were gripped with fear, uncertainty and confusion. Starting out means new networks, new relationships and new activities. There is a lot of create and understand for those starting for the first time.

Restarting many of those elements are in place. There is less confusion and less uncertainty. The challenge this time is remaining focused and maintaining our motivation. I spent much of the first lockdown ensuring that my home office worked and working out new routines to support work, life and success. I start the second lockdown with that infrastructure in place and routines. I am not looking forward to the process, but I have far greater confidence that I can survive and succeed. I also know the things that I need to do differently to build and grow as this experience comes around again. After all, it is not yet clear that we won’t have more to come.

Importantly, a restart builds on the critical relationships that we have built before. Finding a new job or relationship or starting a new business or career, depends in many ways on our relationships. Networks underpin our success in life and business. Those restarting start on top of strong relationships developed through experience. Plan to use these relationships to support and enhance your efforts.

Restarting is mostly an experience of working day-by-day and step-by-step. However, it can also be an opportunity to make a new leap. We should challenge ourselves not to treat the restart as routine and look for the truly better ways to work and to live in the next go round. Some times the blank page of the restart enables you to see an entirely different path forward, one that will get you a lot further to your destination a lot faster. Maintaining our curiousity and our optimism is essential to finding and executing on these chances.

As difficult as starting over may be, it is a common part of many domains of our life. If we tackle the drudgery and challenges with an eye to the opportunity, we may just find some entirely new satisfaction.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost, Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

2 thoughts on “Starting Again

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