Happy birthday to me! Well, not exactly me, perse. Happy birthday to ITsolopreneurs! It was pretty much one year ago when I started putting fingers to keys and crafting the beginnings of my blog.
When I look back at how 2016 went for ITsolopreneurs, I have nothing but pride in how far the blog has come. I’ve been fortunate enough to appear on three podcasts. I’ve had multiple guest posts. I appeared on the cover of an industry magazine. None of this seems overly significant compared to most of the other multitudes of blogs out there. I’m still a newbie. I have a long way to go. Nevertheless, it’s a little taste of success. And that’s worth celebration. I used to think people just get lucky with their accomplishments. But I realized it’s far more reliable to create your own luck.
At the beginning, I had no idea how it would look, or how I, little insignificant me, could add to anybody’s life. I had no idea if people would care to even consider my insights upon solopreneurship, people skills, and professional success. I just knew I had insight. I knew I had a unique perspective on how I saw the world. And I had a voice. While I might have been a little self-conscious at first to express my opinion on the vast and sometimes treacherous waters of the internet, I chose to explore it.
Upon reflection of the past year, there are some key lessons that I learned, which I know will stick with me forever. And both my career and personal life would thrive because of what I learned in the last 365 days.
Key Lessons in Attracting Success
1. You Never Know Unless You Try
My podcast partner, Perry Lai of TransformYourKid.com recently posted in our Facebook group about how he told his kid to write a terrible composition. Luther, his son, was supposed to write a composition for school. But he was procrastinating. He was procrastinating because he didn’t’ feel that he was good at writing. So he wasn’t looking forward to putting pen to paper and composing anything. So, Perry instructed him to compose a ‘terrible’ composition. Why would a father tell his son to purposely craft something terrible? He did this to eliminate the perfectionist factor.
Often the reason we don’t take action is that we are overwhelmed by the fact that we don’t think that we can create that perfect piece of work…maybe tot even perfect, but a respectable piece of anything. So many of us (myself included) think we simply wouldn’t be able to do it justice, whatever it is. Hence we end up doing nothing. We don’t want to put in a ton of effort into a project only to have it fail spectacularly. By giving his son the permission to create something terrible, Perry essentially eliminated the possibility of failure. Here’s the rub. The first iteration of anything we do, be it a composition, drawing, book, will be disastrous. The first few times we do anything, it will suck. It only gets better. Only when you have a tangible version of anything, regardless how crappy it is, can you make it better. Making anything better first requires that you have something on which to improve. So, clearly the first step is to create that first version. As Nathan Chan of Foundr magazine said, ‘if you not embarrassed by your first product, you’ve shipped too late.’
2. Consistency is Worth More Than Aptitude
I used to play badminton competitively in university. I could hardly hit anything when I started. I played “churchyard badminton.” I played the type of badminton that people would play on a Sunday afternoon, outdoors at the church picnic, with my Sport Chek racquet. I was terrible. But something about the sport spoke to me. Ever since I did my first smash, I was hooked. For the next 5 years, even beyond my graduation, I played badminton 6 days a week, from 7 – 10 every night. A couple years into it, I started entering tournaments and competing at various clubs, and eventually throughout the province. My group of friends and I went to Calgary, Grand Prairie, Red Deer, all over Alberta to compete. I had progressed far from where I started. With the help of a college coach, who gave us free instruction out of the kindness of his heart, I trained like the college kids. My best ranking was 24th in the province in my category. I was still no star player. I still got my ass handed to me by the A-players from Glencoe and Royal Glenora… the kids who started in badminton when they were 8. But the point is that with consistent effort applied over time, and the intent to get better, you will improve.
Same thing with blogging. The first few times, it took me hours upon hours to write a decent blog post. One of the key success factors to building the blog was to publish consistently. Daunting as it might have been, I started to write every week. It’s been a year. I’ve shaved down my efficiency in crafting articles tremendously. Again, the more you do something and the longer you keep at it, you can’t help but get better. True, there’s still a long way to go for me. But if you show up and work it every day, every week, or whatever frequency to which you committed, the only way to go is up.
Sure there are people with talent. There are plenty of people who are much more talented writers, who write more eloquently, and with clever humor and poise. But ask me to bet on consistency or talent, and I’ll put my money on consistency every single time. It matters less how smart and talented you are. If you’re not rolling up your sleeves and bringing it consistently, you’ll never win the race.
3. Finding a Mastermind is invaluable
You can’t get good at basketball playing by yourself in the driveway. Half a year ago, I formed a mastermind with some folks I met in a business course I took. Having a mastermind you can bounce ideas off is invaluable. Just today, Frans, Marco and I met, as we do every Sunday. I had a mental block about a development on my site, and together we were able to work through it. No more mental block. I felt the excitement again to continue working on my site. I was once again inspired. Had I not talked to them about it, I would have continued to wallow in my own stagnancy. I could afford a couple weeks of stagnancy, as uncomfortable as it feels. Soon though, I would have lost the momentum and perhaps even threw it on the backburner.
The other magic about mastermind groups is the accountability that is part of the deal. Quite frankly, you’re way less likely to give into your own devices and slack off if you have to report to your accountability partners. There have been so many occasions where I really want to slack off, but because I have to report to my peers on a weekly basis, I’ll pull up my socks and do the work.
4. Resourcefulness is Critical
Anyone who knows me knows that I am of average intelligence. Never have I claimed to be an expert on any particular subject. But it doesn’t stop me from sharing expertise and experiences with the world. Why should it? Even if you get a PhD in an area, you can’t truly have acquired all the information in that area. On that note, I’m not sure why would you bother even, when you know that the collective knowledge of the entire world is at your fingertips. People often mistake having knowledge with the ability to acquire knowledge. Why take it so hard on yourself? It’s impossible anyways. There’s absolutely no way that you as one single individual can know everything about everything. No one’s going to fault you for not having all facts yourself.
You do need to be resourceful, though. There was once a Chicago newspaper that tried to skewer Henry Ford back in the day. They pompously questioned his intelligence because they knew he wasn’t formally educated. It got to the point where Ford was brought to court and even cross-examined. Ford was peppered with trivia questions about philosophy and history. Eventually, Ford runs out of patience and says:
“If I should really WANT to answer the foolish question you have just asked or any of the other questions you have been asking me, let me remind you that I have a row of electric push-buttons on my desk, and by pushing the right button, I can summon to my aid men who can answer ANY question I desire concerning the business to which I am devoting most of my efforts. Now, will you kindly tell me, WHY I should clutter up my mind with general knowledge, for the purpose of being able to answer questions, when I have men around me who can supply any knowledge I require?”
He’s absolutely right. Why would clutter your mind with anything other than what you need at a given point in time? With the dawn of the internet and all the remarkable new industries it’s spawned, we as the human race has had convenient access to more knowledge than ever before. It’s changed the face of education, of business, even finding love. In business, it’s enabled even peasants like me to try my hand at building an online enterprise for myself.
Resourcefulness has and always continues to be a skill that is indicative of success in any area of your life. Especially in business, where there is no user guide, no set manual, no set of instructions you follow to make it, being resourceful is critical. It literally makes the difference between whether you’re going make it in the business world, or crumple in the corner and die an unceremonious death.
Ideas are Ever-Plenty
People often ask me how I can come up with something to write every week. I’ve been asked time and time again what my “creative process” is. “Aren’t you afraid that you’ll run out of topics on which to write?” they ask. Here’s the thing. There’s so much craziness going on in the world, you can’t even make this stuff up. All you have to do is open your eyes. Be observant. Be curious. In following the trail of curiosity, there’s always something to write about.
Most of us are way too self-absorbed to notice anything past the end of our nose. But if we just take a minute to pay attention to more than just ourselves, you’ll find that your immediate environment is a fertile field of ideas that are quietly waiting for someone to act upon them. It could be that next business idea, or you might notice a problem that calls to you to solve. The simple definition of business, as I explained to my 5yr old, is when you are able to create something valuable out of otherwise ordinary materials and solve someone’s problem. In turn that someone gives you money for it. That is business, pure and simple. Ideas are the easy part. The road to success is strewn with great ideas that were never executed. The operative word is to execute.
5. Sow enough seeds and Something will Start Growing
I am of the philosophy that if you throw enough stuff onto the wall, something is bound to stick. So if you want to make it rain, if you want something happen for whatever it is you’re trying to make happen, turn every stone. Take every opportunity. Say yes to everyone and everything thing that is going to help you cover more ground on your critical path.
When I was learning to sell insurance, I was taught that the key to getting sales was to fill the pipe with leads. Only when you have enough potential opportunities to filter down to the yes’s can you see any sort of turnover in sales. Not everyone is going to say yes. In fact, we were taught in the world of insurance, that you have to talk to three people, to get one yes. That means that you have to go through two no’s before you score. So reverse engineering that concept, if you want to have 10 sales, you have to fill the pipe with 30 potentials. There’s no shortcut. It’s all about the numbers. Take enough shots and you eventually score the goals. Every business is different. The turnover ratios are obviously different in every industry. But one thing’s for sure: if you don’t fill the pipe, if you don’t sow seeds, you won’t see the harvest.
It’s always exciting to start something new. Whether you’re starting a new job, or exercise regimen, the hoopla is always at the beginning. That’s the easiest time to bring it. In the beginning, you’ve got the most momentum. You’re feeding off the novelty of your new project. As time progresses, and you’re not seeing success, you feel like you’re failing. That’s normal. It feels like failure in the middle. You’ll get tired. You’ll start to ease off the pedal thinking questioning why you even went down this path. Every so often, though, the universe will throw you a bone to keep you in the game. You just have to stay in the game. Revisit that vision often. Keep executing. The harder you work, the luckier you get.
Here’s to the quiet ones who grind with consistency, with a clear vision of what success looks like when they get there. We salute you.
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