Sometimes You Have To Be a Steamroller


“Well, I’m a steamroller, baby, I’m gonna roll all over you…” –James Taylor

I tell people that I got the nickname “steamroller” when I was in my graduate studies, but the truth is that I gave myself the title after listening to Mr. Taylor sing his song time and again. The title fit though. I was 35, surrounded by 22 year olds. Many of them had never known anything but school before and didn’t seem in a hurry to get through and get out into the wild and wooly world.

I, on the other hand, had a family to feed. I knew that every day I was in graduate school was one less day of income for my family. And so I plowed again, doing what was in front of me as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. And I got done. It wasn’t always pretty, but I got there.

My daughter has ignored a lot that I’ve tried to teach her, as children often do. I saw in her an innate talent for writing that I had to work years to attain, but she chose a different path. But now that she’s in her own master’s program, she honored me recently by stating that she’s picked up my own bullish, obsessive behavior. Rather than hemming and hawing at how to approach an assignment, she jumps right in, asks as many questions as she can, then tries her best to tackle it, mistakes and all. And she is very close to finishing her degree.

This is not to say that being a steamroller is the answer in every situation. Some times call for finesse. Some call for hesitation or asking questions. But there are also times for rashness. National Novel Writing Month is a great example. Fifty thousand words in 30 days. It won’t give you a great novel right off the bat. But if you are faithful to the premise of NaNoWriMo, it WILL give you a novel. After that, it’s up to you to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. And it’s doable.

But too often we hesitate and wait and pause and stick our toe in the water wondering if it is cold or not. Why not commit to plunging in head first? The worst you can get is wet and cold. And the best you can get is possibly refreshed.

Go ahead. Be a steamroller. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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