My 4-Year-Old’s Get-it-Done Advice

“Daddy” is a word I hear approximately 73 times per day. I’m amazed sometimes at the pearls of wisdom that follow.

Photo Courtesy Nicki Dugan, CC
Photo Courtesy Nicki Dugan, CC


“Can you count to a thousand?” He’s so fascinated right now about how high numbers go. He can only count with any reliability to “thirty ten”.

“I can’t right now, buddy, it would take too long.”

“Well,” he responded. “Can you count to ten?”

Can you hear him? If you don’t have time or talent or motivation to count to 1,000, start by counting to 10! This seems a little too simplistic for us. I mean we’re adults, right?

Examine your behavior. Are you:

  • Starting (Too) Big?: It would take more than a ride to church to count to 1,000. It would take over 11 days to count, non-stop, to 1 million! By breaking difficult tasks or life goals into actionable and achievable segments, we can conquer even the most daunting of these.
  • Jumping Ahead?: Don’t cheat! We learn valuable lessons on each step of the journey. The temptation for my generation is to take our tech-savvy, outside-the-box thinking and “revolutionize” everything we come into contact with. But there is often more value in the climb than in the helicopter ride. Sweat equity buys much more than cash ever could.
  • Expecting Too Much?: My son does not yet know all the numbers on the way to 1,000. But he can learn them. Don’t expect too much of yourself right away. There will be things you don’t know on the way to pursuing your passions; you will need help. Media and cultural hoopla about a single person changing the world is bogus. It takes people to make a difference; build a community and watch how much better it affects change.
  • Doubting Yourself?: So you’re in high school. So you’re a college kid. So you’re a retiree on a fixed income. You’ve got this. You’re never to young or too old to start pursuing a passion. If you can count to 10, you can count to 1,000. Don’t let a big task get the best of you or make you want to quit. Break it down to its key elements and see if you can knock them out. If you can’t hack one of them, find someone who can.

You might need to slow down pursuing your passion. You could be building up to your dream without even realizing you’re leaving out components crucial for its success. What good is all that time and effort to build something that crumbles at the first sign of trouble?

You might need to pick up the pace! Has it been a while since you worked on that passion project? If you get to 990 and stop or get hung up on 500, “it’s been a good run” will not get you to 1,000. If you’ve broken down your dream into actionable segments, attack them! This is your dream we’re talking about.

You might need to get started pursuing your passion. There is the risk of failure. There’s also the risk of success. I highly recommend Jon Acuff’s book “Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, and Do Work That Matters”. That’s not an affiliate link or paid placement (this blog is way too small for that), it’s just a stupendous book!

Let me ask you something, then: Can YOU count to ten?

In the Comments: What have you been mulling over for years? What are you afraid to do but know you’re called to do?

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5 thoughts on “My 4-Year-Old’s Get-it-Done Advice

  1. Thought-provoking. I’m personally not one to mull over things for years in terms of “to do” items. But I am constantly mulling over “to become” items and striving to be the best I can, the most authentic, sincere, and to live with honor and integrity. When you go for character, it can be frustrating (at least to me) because it takes a lifetime. So, back to work for me!

    1. Interesting thought, Skip, moving through “to do” in order to focus on “to become”. I think a lot of leaders have (or think they have) “to do” conquered, but your point about building character is spot on. It takes a lifetime to build and a millisecond to destroy. When you miss a number building character, you’ve got to start all the way back at “one”.

      Thanks for your wisdom.

  2. Great post and insights Justin! Success or achieving something big is about taking small steps on a daily basis. Thinking about what we can do now (today) to move us to where we want to be in the future. It’s amazing what we can learn from children.

    I also really liked your statement: “You’re never to young or too old to start pursuing a passion.” No matter where we are in life it’s not to late to start moving toward our passions and dreams. Great post!

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