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A Lesson in Doing Projects and Making Change

From my own experience doing projects that people have said are “cool” and “inspirational,” I’ve learned one big thing: it isn’t all cool and glamorous.

When you look at projects like the Before I Die wall you see the awesome final product: a huge chalkboard wall filled with the aspirations of peers. Or the Looking UP project, a huge bulletin board of the names of strangers who’ve made a huge impact on another stranger’s life. What you don’t see is the lengthy meetings that involved discussing (sometimes aggressively), “How big should the arrows be? What color? What phrases should we use?” What you don’t see is the time spent building the panels and making mistakes and having to go buy more wood and more screws and having a panel break the night before the project launched.

A lot of un-fun work goes into making something awesome.

Likewise, when you imagine working at Google, you probably imagine a really cool office space and chill work environment (it’s true), but you don’t realize that work is work. The engineers and programmers at Google are coding day-in and day-out. That isn’t exactly glamorous. But the end-products, Google and all its apps, are awesome.

A room of people coding isn’t exactly the most glamorous scene (to most people).

There’s a lot of unglamorous work behind the glamorous products and projects you see out there.

That unglamorous work, unfortunately, is what prevents people from doing such amazing work. They expect the entire process to be enjoyable and fun and cheerful. That’s not the reality.

Justin and I have had countless discussions about The UP Lab and it’s growth and direction. It’s a stressful conversation. We’ve set deadline to release blog posts and came up with marketing strategies and put our own money into growing the organization. A lot of it is stressful.

However, if you (or your team) have a vision, and you’re passion about something, you push through those stressful times, those moments of conflicting interests, and you do whatever is necessary to make that vision happen.

The next time you see an awesome app/project/company that improves lives and you say “I want to do that,” think about how much work went into making it happen.

Hopefully you still want to do it.