An imagined dialogue with author Jon Acuff
Me: So Jon, how am I doing?
Jon: Well, I think you need to more clearly define the book’s noble objectives and the secret rules.
Me: Okay, fair enough. What else?
Jon: Choosing what to fail at needs a whole lot more fleshing out, I can tell you that. In fact, I’d say you’re doing a pretty weak job of selling my book.
Me: I didn’t know I was supposed to be selling your book. I thought I was supposed to change my life for the better and in the process serve myself and others and enable me to look in the mirror and realize that I can take forward steps.
Jon: Oh, yeah, there’s that. And by the way, I have to say, you’re probably spending a little too much time writing right now. You have tons more to do on the Eclectic’s Journal and on your online course.
Me: Geez, so you’re serving as my conscience as well. Have I done anything well lately?
Jon: Well, I do like the idea of your keeping a list of stuff you’re following up on. It might not be riveting reading for others, but as long as it helps you feel good about your progress, that’s right on target.
Me: It’s actually kind of fun to reflect on those small completed chores too.
Jon: Well, there you go! That fits right in with my chapter on using data to celebrate forward movement.
Me: What else can we talk about?
Jon: Dive back into the book and see what’s what. Tons more to cover.
Me: Okay, I came up with a concept. What do you think of the idea of a ‘finish posse’?
Jon: Come again?
Me: Well, you round up some people who ascribe to your philosophy—pretty high-minded, isn’t it?—and they cruise neighborhoods ferreting out slackers and layabouts and people with way too many secret rules and noble objectives.
Jon: Okay, I’m listening.
Me: Well, they report back to you and you swoop in and proselytize on the merits of being a ‘finisher’.
Jon: Could you use the term evangelize? I like the sound of that better. Makes me think I’m in the league of guys like Guy Kawasaki.
Me: Fair enough. I’m also wondering…
Jon: You’re more than a little scary, but you’re going to say it anyway, aren’t you?
Me: Yeah, I was thinking maybe the posse should include someone from Helsinki.
Jon: Oooh, I like the international flavor. I could use a little marketing boost overseas. But why there?
Me: Just thought it would be a good idea to have a Finnish person in the group.
Jon: Okay, you’re just disturbed. I’m kind of looking forward to your finishing the book. So what else is on your plate?
Me: I have to say, I like the way you consistently take aim at perfectionism. You make it sound almost evil. I think we do have to personify it—we have to take what it does to us extremely personally because, as you suggest throughout the book, its effects are so deeply ingrained in many of us.
Jon: I’m glad you picked up on that. After all, I would have to say that pretty much everybody I know has been victimized by it. And the danger is, it goes by so many other aliases, so it’s easy to use one label to pass off one act of avoidance. Like, you just ‘got distracted’. Then, a month later when you’ve dropped the ball on another goal, you’ve simply ‘procrastinated’.
Me: You are a true evangelist, Jon.
Jon: Awww, shucks. Now, where’s the queso you promised me?