I love podcasts.

This won’t be news to anyone who knows me. Podcasts have all but taken over my life in the past few years, both in consuming them and creating them (Thirty Seconds or Less just published episode 701!). I can proudly say that I didn’t just jump on the Serial bandwagon (and actually, I was a little late to that party). But I consume hours of podcasts each week. And I continue to plot and scheme numerous podcasts I’d like to start (specifically two new ones that I hope to launch in 2016 – more on those in the next few months).

But here’s the thing: I listen to all these podcasts, many of them supported in part (or in full) by radio stations and/or NPR. Which means they have a quality that the podcast hobbyist like myself can occasionally find intimidating to emulate. Even if you’re not into podcasts, you probably know this feeling. Just take any hobby you have and compare it to the “pros” that you admire, be it writing or music or blogging or sports or YouTube or cooking or pretty much anything.

But fear not internet, for I have may have found a way around this potential paralysis: I go back to episode one.

Sometimes episode one means hunting through their website archives (this is how I found the first episode of 99% Invisible, my all time favorite podcast). Other times you have to research their previous projects, as new podcasts like StartUp and #AskGaryVee aren’t their first time around this block.

Either way, the goal is to unearth the podcast or person they were before you discovered them. And realize that everyone, even Roman Mars and Manoush Zomorodi and Alex Bulmberg started somewhere far from the place they are now. (One of my favorite contrasts is Gary Vaynerchuck’s first episode of Wine Library TV with any of his recent episodes of The #AskGaryVee Show. His evolution will blow you away.) When you look at the larger scope of their work you see the way they evolved and improved. And then maybe you can look back on your life and work and realize that the same is true for you too.

Because I’m pretty sure you don’t just “make it.” There is no epic point of arrival. There is work. And more work. Learning. And more learning. Trying. And failing. And more trying and more failing.

The trick, as Finding Nemo so eloquently pointed out, is to “just keep swimming.”

Yes, some ideas will fail. And hopefully you will fail fast so that you can jump up and try again, learning as you go, honing your voice and skill and passion. And along the way you will discover that the best part isn’t any final product, the the ongoing process along the way.

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p.s. Another great example of this in the world of preaching is the evolution of Rob Bell. Just over a year ago I found a recording of the first sermon he preached at Mars Hill in 1997. It was good, but it was not the Rob I came to know during my time at Mars Hill. And it is not the Rob who the world knows today. Because all of us are evolving and growing and changing and learning and trying and failing and falling and getting up and falling down again and getting up again and again and again. You have to have an episode one, even if you look back on it years later and it makes you cringe.

p.p.s. Perhaps this is what the Star Wars saga was setting out to do in the creation of Star Wars: Episode I. It’s literal “episode one” (officially titled Episode IV) blew the world away with its innovation and storytelling, succeeded only by the following two in the original trilogy. And then the reboot of Episodes I, II, and III used advances in film making technology to create what I’m sure I’m not alone in calling an abomination to the series. But perhaps they were simply trying to give the series a true “episode one,” making the earlier work, chronologically speaking to the Star Wars story line, sub par in comparison with the episodes that follow.

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TL;DR
Don’t be intimidated when you compare yourself to the people in a field that you look up to. Go back and listen to their “episode one” and you’ll see just how far they’ve grown and evolved over time. Then do the same with your own work and you’ll realize that you have too.

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ONE MORE THING: Since I mentioned podcasts in this post, here are my five favorites.
Leave a comment and let me know what my list is missing!

  1. 99% Invisible
  2. Note To Self
  3. Hardcore History
  4. Radiolab
  5. StartUp Podcast