One the most destructive things no one talks about is when you stop trusting your instincts. It happens at different times for each of us, but it always the same shift.
You go from “this is fun!” ——> “oh sh*t, there are consequences.”
For a lot of us, school is the culprit behind this shift.
That’s when you learn there are consequences for being “average.”
If you’re average, you can’t get into a good college. If you can’t get into a good college, you can’t get a (good) (well paying) (respectable) job. After that, the avalanche of consequences spiral out of control and you wake up in jail for the rest of your life.
(or so they say.)
The belief that there is someone holding a rubric with all the answers (and you’re being graded on whether you meet them) is why it stops being fun and starts being frightening.
It’s not surprising that there’s now an eruption of mental health issues stemming from this belief.
This is where internalized shame comes from. It’s also where anxiety, panic, depression, substance abuse, (misdiagnosis of) ADHD, and eating disorders often start.
Because at the root of it all you have the invisible script that who you are isn’t good enough.
If you’re not perfect according to the above arbitrary rubric, there’s something wrong with you. It’s no wonder that the most successful business owners were terrible at school (excellent chapter on this in the Millionaire Mind).
Not because they weren’t smart, on the contrary. They were having fun, honing their skills in other things. Following their curiosity. Learning about markets and pricing and playing around discovering that the rules are malleable.
The Rules Are Malleable
To be good at business (and to be good at life) is to know that you’re going to be wrong. A lot. And that that’s just fine. You brush yourself off, get up, and try something different.
In business, you get to play.
- “That positioning didn’t work. Hmm. Let’s try this.”
- “This pricing didn’t work. Hmm. Let’s try this.”
- “Leading with that appeal didn’t work. Let’s try this.”
- “Selling to this market isn’t working, let’s try that one.”
The moment you begin to believe there’s a rubric for how to do this is the moment you lose.
When entrepreneurs call me stuck on their positioning or their marketing strategy, it’s always the same problem in different words: they’ve forgotten that the rules are malleable.
They read a book or took a course or trusted a thought leader to tell them how this works. They stopped trusting their instincts and they stopped having fun.
The reason we look to others for our answers is because that’s what we were trained to do. We like having a roadmap. It’s how we were taught. We’ve been indoctrinated in a system that told us not to act until you’ve studied this, memorized it!! FOLLOW THE RULES.
Comply. Follow. Behave. Fit in.
Listen, I’m not calling for anarchy here, but you can’t outsource the hard work of thinking for yourself when it comes to your business or your life. It’s like asking your friends whether you should marry the guy you’re dating.
If you have to ask, the answer is NO.
A girlfriend of mine runs a company that’s now in 10 markets. This week she admitted she, “should be doing affiliate partnerships and all that, but, I don’t really want to.”
“I don’t really want to,” is justification enough when it’s your company. As long as you’re willing to own the consequences. Which could very well be positive, like they were in my case.
In my case, it was lead magnets. I’ve made some extraordinary lead magnets in my day. I know they work; I’ve seen the numbers. I get why they’re the industry standard and I recommend others use them.
But every time I put them on my website they tank. I test and I test and I test. Is it my copy? The offer? Placement of the opt-in? The type of pop up?
Then I take a step back and ask: Why do you have a lead magnet?
The answer is: Because I’m supposed to. And whenever that’s the answer you know something is wrong.
The correct answer is and always will be: BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT MY MARKET WANTS.
My personal preference, despite the data, is that I hate lead magnets. When I go to someone’s site, and I like them, I just want to hear more from them. I don’t want their guide and I don’t want to take their stupid 30-day challenge.
I have an entire folder of PDF’s I’ve never read (8 years worth) and shitty checklists (beautifully designed. Why are they always beautifully designed?) that aren’t worth the space they take up on my computer.
So, I said screw it.
I scraped my lead magnets (which were converting at 0% to .79%) and put up the one I have now. Conversion shot up to 5.15%. Still not outstanding but a far cry from .79%.
Because at a certain point you have to trust yourself, trust you know your market, and start having some freaking fun again.
Play with the rules. The point of knowing them is to make them your own. Apply them to your specific circumstance. Your market, your product, your brand is not in the book, it’s not in the course – no one has the answers you’re looking for.
The answers you’re looking for are in the application, not the memorization. Apply these “rules” to your business in a way that works for you.
And if it’s not working: CHANGE IT.
PS: Next week I’m opening the doors for a new batch of people to apply for my virtual coworking space.
We’re taking only a select few (yeah, that’s scarcity and exclusivity baby. But it’s also true. We won’t let you in if you’re trying to be an internet marketer).
If you want to get support from people who are also in the trenches (not just taking courses and regurgitating what they learned), this is where you need to be.
Building a business is a lonely job, even if you have a team, there’s rarely anyone at your level you can talk about this stuff with. You don’t need another course – you need a tribe. You need people who will hold you to a higher standard and push you outside your comfort zone.
If you’re tired of driving your husband nuts because you’re always talking about your business, apply to join us. We’ll never get bored of talking about your business and you can go back to having your regular date nights back.
Brainstorm with people who understand what it’s like to wake up at 3AM with the panic of “Will I make payroll???” or “Crap. Everything is wrong. Must delete all of it and start from scratch NOW.”
Especially if you’re not in a major city that has a big entrepreneurial scene like NY, SF, and Austin. You need people like you (and you want them. You’ve been looking for us – and trust me, we’re looking for you!!)
Get yourself some coworkers.
Learn more about the space here.