38th edition: What the 80 entry points to the Colosseum can teach us about building
Grandness begins with finding an entry point
It was June 10, 2010, when I touched down on Italian soil for the first time.
I was a twenty-year-old university student and part-time café worker meeting three friends at the halfway point of their nine-week “Euro Trip.” It was a day of firsts: my first solo flight, my first time in Europe, and my first time catching a train in Italy.
The crazy thing is I would have missed out on all of those firsts had it not been for my aunt. I’d been lamenting about not being able to swing nine weeks away—even on a backpacker budget of bunkbeds in hostels, instant coffee, and questionable breakfast “food”—when my aunt jolted me out of my state of disappointment.
“Why don’t you meet your friends for the second half of the trip?”
It hadn’t occurred to me that it wasn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. So we pulled up the travel itinerary and decided I would meet my friends in Rome.
Fast forward a month, and I was rolling into the train station as my friends waved from the platform. The next few days in the city were “lifelong memory” worthy—but the highlight was seeing the Colosseum.
The only thing wilder than standing outside of the Colosseum for the first time is standing inside of it.
[The Colosseum] included eighty entrances—seventy-six for the patrons, two for participants of events, and two exclusively for the emperor to use.
The sheer number of entrances proved to be necessary: the Colosseum could hold more than 50,000 spectators at its maximum capacity.
Now, twelve years later, the Colosseum and my aunt’s prompt to get me there form the basis of how I think about grandness. It all comes down to finding entry points.
Whether it’s finding an entry point to make a bold career move—like a course, project, or job offer—or embarking on a life-changing trip by, say, meeting your friends in Europe, the grandest experiences have to start somewhere.
The same can be said for building a body of work. While those ahead of us may have grand portfolios, they didn’t amass them overnight. It serves as a reminder that if we try to “build the Colosseum” in one go, we’re prone to crumble under pressure and be left sifting through the rubble.
I experience this when I try to write a piece with too much breadth. I end up feeling confused, frustrated, and exasperated—until I remember I can’t build the Colosseum in one go. I remind myself to focus on one entry point and put the rest on the bench until I’m ready to take them to bat.
The same goes for course building. Most of the entrepreneurs and creators I work with feel compelled to cover a variety of topics in their first course. But what I tell them is that they’ll end up feeling the same way I do when I try to write about too many things at once: crumbling and sifting through the mess. Instead, I encourage them to pick an entry point for their course business, knowing they can expand their course or add more in time.
👑 CHALLENGE: What course, topic, or project have you been struggling to get traction on because “there’s so much to cover?” Identify an entry point to get started.
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Have a wonder-full week,
P.S. My trip to Italy was the summer Eat Pray Love monopolized the movie scene, so I got to relive my Roman adventure every time I saw the trailer with its sweeping view of the Colosseum. I finally watched the movie on a flight a couple of months ago.
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