Chipping Away

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Now that I live where it snows, I’ve gotten a crash course in removing snow and ice from the windows of my vehicle. I’ve also learned that when you get “wet” snow followed by a freeze, your car doors can actually freeze shut.

Who knew?

I armed myself for this annual winter battle by purchasing an ice chipper/snow brush combination on sale for $7 at ACE Hardware. It is a very handy little tool. We’ve bonded quite well, and we make a good team.

As I’ve logged some experience with the weather, I’ve learned that to properly remove the ice you have to “chip away” at it. Being too aggressive or trying to crack it loose with brute force can result in either broken equipment or a damaged windshield.

While most leaders like to move quickly (and we often aren’t the most patient people, either), the reality is that some of our most significant or impactful contributions take time. Whether it is becoming a subject matter expert in a particular field, writing a book, growing a business, mastering a hobby – it just doesn’t happen overnight.

With that in mind, here are three simple ideas on “chipping away” more effectively on those longer-term items.

First – visualize your desired outcome.

Keeping the outcome consistently in view helps pull you continually towards it, a little bit like gravity. If you get discouraged or impatient, revisiting the outcome and reminding yourself of why you are pursuing it will help.

Second – concentrate on steady forward progress.

Take advantage of small chunks of time where you can get them. Over time these blocks add up. When writing or teaching, for example, I’ll often jot down a few ideas or write a few sentences when waiting for an appointment or as a quick break between other tasks. Then, when it is time to assemble the final product, in most cases I’ve got a pretty good head start.

Third – use simple tools you have available.

In my car, for example, I always start the engine and turn on the mirror and windshield heaters/defrosters. While the car is warming up, I then start working on the snow and ice. After a few minutes, the “tools” that are built in to the car’s systems start assisting me in my manual endeavors.

Similarly, when I’m out and about, I always carry a messenger bag with several books that I’m reading, a Rocketbook erasable notebook, a few snacks in case I want to go off the beaten path, and my phone where I can record voice memos. That way, no matter where I am, I can still make some progress.

Also, I’ve started using a program called Obsidian for my writing and coaching. Obsidian is a personal knowledge management (PKM) application. Over time it helps you categorize and cross reference your thoughts and ideas and see patterns that you may not have noticed before.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of its capabilities, but I believe it will be a powerful productivity enhancer and long-term companion in my work. Some of you might find it beneficial as well. You can check it out at

If something is worthwhile – keep chipping away at it. Over time, once all the chips are removed and the snow is brushed off, something incredible may finally reveal itself.

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