Got it? This is something you can help them with.

Don’t quite got it yet? No problem, here’s how you can figure it out: talk to people.

Ask them what they’re struggling with. Ask real people. People in your same industry or maybe a parallel one. An excellent place to find questions (and answers and people who want both) is Quora. Questions, answers, struggles, successes. Where might you be able to help?

There is a caveat, of course. If it’s something that you hate doing, it’s not going to work out all that well. I can build a website in WordPress in an hour, but if I ever have a website client again (like, uh, ever), it’ll be too soon.

I mention this today as yesterday I hit 1,700 Posts in 1,700 Days. A writer friend just started on my 10 Day Writing Challenge and she mentioned to me that she was on Day 2. The first word out of my mouth was, “Ouch.”

The beginning of something can be extremely difficult and challenging and even downright depressing. It’s the base of a mountain and you haven’t even taken the first step. You’re just getting started and the top seems like a million miles away. The sad part is that it might be a million miles away. It might even be unattainable. Why? Because you might not make it to Day 3.

Here’s a little math. If you don’t make it to Day 3, you don’t make it to Day 4. You can’t just skip from Day 3 to Day 4. You have to do Day 3. See how that works? Here’s a little more math. That was easy: 3 + 1 = 4. What you also can’t do is skip from 3 to, say, 300. That would not work in math. Maybe in magic (and I’m all in for magic), but not in math. There are things in math that are so concrete, so trustworthy, so understandable that the simplicity is the beauty. Yes, I’m a mathematician at heart.

But I’m also a magician.

I can make Day 1 turn into day 1,701. Whoa! How did that happen? Easy: 1 + 1,700 = 1,701. Here’s the secret. Here’s the rabbit out of the hat. I’m not concerned with how to get from 1 to 1,701. I’m only concerned with 1. Did you catch that? I’m not even concerned with how to get to 2. I’m busy with 1. All you need is one. All you need is today. All you have is today. Here’s something reassuring: as much as you’d like to be concerned about 2 or 3 or 1,701, there’s nothing you can do about it. Oh, sorry, there is one thing. You can work on today, you can work on now.

You know when a good time to start with today is? Now. Not in a minute, not in an hour, but now. Now that’s some simple math. Nothing to add or subtract, figure out or calculate. It’s just right now. Do you know how many options there are for now? One. It’s now. It’s the answer.

Double Bonus Brownie Points and the Drop-Down Oxygen Mask

That thing you’re good at? That thing you also like doing? It’s great that you want to help other people with it, but here’s a little secret.

You know in the airplane when they want you to take the oxygen mask first and then give it to your child? The idea is that in this way you’ll save both of you. If you thought you were being altruistic and first gave the oxygen mask to your child, but then you died, the child might not know what to do, panic, forget what you taught them (how to use the oxygen mask) and then you would already be dead and they might follow you down that path.

OK, maybe a little gruesome detail there, but I’m just trying to prove my point. You need you to be well first. You need to know your stuff and be strong and healthy before you can help others. If you’re barely surviving, you can’t very well help others. In building your own strength and knowledge and experience, you’ll be that better teacher and then you’ll also thrive and get even better and be able to continually help them also get better.

Remember not to compare your beginnings with someone else’s years of experience. The winner of the marathon is not in the same place as you are on Day 1 of your long-distance running training. However, don’t forget where you began so that you can relate to those who are getting started and can help them get from Day 1 to Day 2 and give them the tools to get to Day 3.