The biggest force in the world is habit. We humans learn from a young age to seek security by sticking with the same tasks, people, routines, and places we interact with most often.
This makes for a pretty dull life
Therefore, if the biggest force is habit then imagine the power that breaking a habit can have on its immediate surroundings.
Any deviation from a habit attracts attention and creates a tipping point you can use to your advantage. People look for any distraction from the dullness as long as it takes little effort on their part. They just want to escape and be surprised if even for a short moment in time.
Be that escape for others and you can write your own ticket to success.
The key to success is overcoming fears and being willing to take risks.
The misconception is that we should eliminate fear altogether. Wrong.
Even when we’re successful, fear is at least partly responsible for waking us up in the morning. Yes we’re excited about accomplishing great things, but fear of losing the momentum we’ve built towards that success is what keeps our hand off the snooze button.
The right way of looking at it is that we have to REPLACE common fears with bigger, more sophisticated fears. Don’t fear approaching that new client, instead fear delivering a subpar product.
Once you’ve overcome that original fear and accomplished your goal, replace that second fear with an even bigger, more extravagant fear. You’ll notice the fears starting to closely align with your goals until they’re practically one and the same.
Your fears essentially become your goals. Meaning; the only thing you fear at that point is being separated from your vision. And that’s it.
A friend asked me the other day: “How can I improve my public speaking quickly?” I responded: “The same way you get good at anything else, expose yourself to the ideal environment.”
You see, it’s all about exposure. Sure the work matters greatly, but how do you build momentum and give yourself the best chance to follow through? You seek out and expose yourself to the ideal environment for that given discipline. You go to where the pros are and you make sure to stick around somehow.
Your subconscious brain is better at picking things up than your conscious brain is. Even with minimal work on your behalf you’re already absorbing and picking up the habits that this specific group of people have. All by exposing yourself to an ideal environment.
Exposure to the ideal elements is also an important factor.
If you’re an entrepreneur you have to expose yourself to risk. Business risk, relationship risk, any and all types of risk. You have to make risk a consistent part of your diet, you should become comfortable being uncomfortable.
Expose yourself to judgement. Whenever you’re bashed for work you’ve done that’s the price you pay. You’re “down in the arena taking punches instead of up in the stands as a spectator.” Spectators never lose, but they never win either.
Expose yourself to different disciplines. If you live in a closed off world your ideas will be stifled as well. You run the risk of becoming a big fish in a small pond. Without a broad view of the world you have no way of knowing whether you’re good at something or not. This is what makes Olympic competition so engrossing. These people are the best in their country, but are they the best in the world? Only exposure to other world-class talent can answer their question.
I’ve always been fascinated with thinking about where good ideas come from. It is obvious that execution is just as important as the actual idea, but where does that small kernel which explodes into a game-changer come from?
Many thinkers have surmised that winning ideas don’t belong to a specific person, instead they belong to a specific place and time. To me this makes perfect sense when you realize that good ideas never stop coming. Great new writers are made each day, great cutting-edge entrepreneurs are also made each day. These people become great when they figure out the process of mining for great ideas, but then they apply these ideas to the current time we’re in now. Despite the billions of humans who have lived on this earth, individuals still keep having new ideas. Why? Timing. More specifically, adapting to the current time.
For Steven Pressfield the birthplace of ideas is the Muse, that invisible spirit which bestows momentary flashes of brilliance upon us. But the Muse only rewards hard work. Lazies need not apply.
The essential thing for us to increase our chances of getting great new ideas is to constantly be putting in effort thinking of new things and exposing ourselves to new ways of thinking. Even better than this is actually testing these ideas in the real world. This is the hard part, and the reason many would-be millionaires never materialize.
There are hundreds of these great ideas for new products, books, songs, all out there in the ether. We just have to be able to grab them from thin air.
I really want to be one of the lucky ones who can grab a few of these ideas. But then again what does luck have to do with it? I just want the work ethic. The Muse will eventually reward me.
“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” - Anatole France
“We begin to see, therefore, the importance of selecting our environment with the greatest of care, because environment is the mental feeding ground out of which the food that goes into our minds is extracted.” - Napoleon Hill
When the game isn’t going in your favor, change the rules. Rules are man-made, they’re not divine. So change them.
PR and Advertising professionals have a saying they rely on from time to time: “If you don’t like what’s being said about you, change the conversation.”
It’s that easy. If you find yourself putting in vast amounts of work with no results it’s because you’re so focused on playing the game by other’s pre-existing rules that you don’t stop and even consider changing the rules to suit how you want to play the game. You don’t realize that many others might be tired of the old rules as well, and the promise of a new way of doing things can easily bring them to your side.
Humans are hard-wired to seek out change cyclically. The timing of the cycle has become nearly scientific, the hard part is figuring out which variables are the ones changing.
Create this new small pond where you can be the big fish. This might eventually become a big pond, or worst case scenario, you stay as the biggest fish in a small pond. It’s still way better than getting kicked around and being part of the lower-ranks of a big pond forever.
An effective way to increase your odds is to act first and act boldly. Neglecting this can be nearly catastrophic.
They say rules were meant to be broken, i say rules were meant to be re-written. If you’re the one initiating the writing you can skew the chances of winning in your favor.
“I do not know which makes a man more conservative – to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past.” - John Maynard Keynes
“I always say that it’s about breaking the rules. But the secret of breaking rules in a way that works is understanding what the rules are in the first place.” - Rick Wakeman
I love hearing the backstory to how successful businesses are started from scratch and turned into uber-successful enterprises. Sara Blakely is the founder and principal owner of Spanx, a company which changed the game in women’s hosiery, and made her a billionaire in the process.
Sara’s taken her show on the road and now speaks at multiple events regarding her struggle to build the company. After listening to her story here are five key takeaways I got from her story that all us aspiring entrepreneurs should keep in mind as we’re building our own billion-dollar baby. Watch the video at the bottom of this post:
- Build half a product, not a half-assed product. Blakely’s original product is essentially a footless pantyhose. It’s a stripped-down version of an existing product, she just made it fit extremely well without rolling up. It’s simpler to make a great product when you simplify. Cut back on features, not on quality.
- No need to quit your day job just yet. She designed, found manufacturers, and shipped her products after coming home from her 9-to-5 job every day. She made sure to test the viability of her business first before she made any rash decisions and bet the whole farm. Nothing wrong with taking risks, but if you’re more risk averse you can still become an entrepreneur.
- Don’t underestimate charisma and the power of your story. It’s obvious by Sara’s presentation that she is a polished salesperson and knows how to charm people. I’m sure she put all of her communication skills to good use when she was just starting out, even her looks. It’s easier to sell when you’re well-liked and can put a smile on people’s faces.
- Enter a market by being different. She points out in the video that she made her product’s packaging startling on purpose. Until that point all hosiery items came in dull peachy colors. She made her packaging bright so prospective customers would understand that this isn’t your average pantyhose.
- Breaking some rules is part of the job. One of the interesting anecdotes in her talk is how she would show up to department stores and move her Spanx shelf from the crowded hosiery aisle to the front of the store, right by the registers where prime selling space is. The store employees would approach her and she would lie to them and say she was sent under direct orders from the store managers.
- You don’t need anyone’s permission to be great. Sara was not a trained product designer, she had never owned her own business, she didn’t even have office space. The first steps of building a business is a great product idea and the will to make it happen. You don’t need to look to others to validate that you are an entrepreneur. Sara did all of this without any outside investment, no one backing her up.
Check out the video below to see Blakely tell her story. Continue reading