Last week I delivered:
Niche Marketing – How Thinking Small Can Payoff BIG
At Sandbox Suites for the Co-Working Meetup Group.
Here’s a YouTube highlights video:
Thanks to Ian Griffin at http://exec-comms.com for the videography and posting
Last week I delivered:
At Sandbox Suites for the Co-Working Meetup Group.
Here’s a YouTube highlights video:
Thanks to Ian Griffin at http://exec-comms.com for the videography and posting
I came across a great blog post at dumblittleman.com, entitled – 4 Reasons You Fail to Achieve Your Goals. And I’d like to add two more:
5. Lack of will.
In the Success Principles, Jack Canfield talks about fears, considerations and obstacles – when you set a great goal, you will always encounter these three things. I believe many people don’t achieve their goals, because they are unwilling to confront their fears, considerations and obstacles.
In essence, a lack of will. Will is defined (thanks to Dictionary.com) as:
the act or process of using or asserting one’s choice; volition
So often in my conversations with people do I hear the words, “It would be nice…” or “I wish…” In order to achieve your goals – you must replace the verbs “would be” and “wish” with will:
It will be nice….
The first step after choosing a goal is to apply your will. It is an act of volition, an act of choice – which leads me to my 6th reason you fail to achieve your goals:
6. A lack of ownership.
Not only are these MY goals. But these are also MY fears, MY considerations and MY obstacles (even the external obstacles are mine).
If you have the will and are willing to take responsibility for your results, then you will get your goals.
How do you create the will? Say that you do: “I have the will.” In other words choose it. How do you take responsibility? I own my results – I choose them.
I came across this blog post by Jared Matthew Kessler in which he talked about ways that he stays motivated and I was motivated to write a response. Jared talks about creating more reasons why to do something than reasons why not to do something. And I agree with that – but think you need to take it one step further.
If you want to not only create motivation in yourself, but also be able to maintain it over time, the type of reasons to do something are also critically important. When you are looking at your reasons for doing something – you want your reasons to be forward motivated, not away-from motivated.
The issue of weight loss is a common case in point. Lets say you want to lose weight. This is away-from motivated – you want to move away from your body as it is right now. You want to get rid of something – the weight. The problem with this and any away-from motivation – is that as soon as you are far enough away from the pain that caused the motivation – you will stop being motivated. So as soon as you’ve lost the weight, you are no longer motivated to exercise and eat healthy and control your portion size, and so on. And the tendency is to slip back in to your old habit of behavior. Hello weight gain and yo-yo dieting.
If your motivation is forward-focused, you want to create a healthy body and tons of energy. Then you will continue to be motivated to indulge in those healthy behaviors – because you are still wanting those results. And so, you create ongoing motivation, not cyclical motivation.
This concept is applicable to any behavior you want to create with consistency. For example – making money. If you’re focused on not being broke – you will create just over broke and stop working. If you’re focused on creating wealth and freedom – you will be motivated to continue to create money even when you’ve got enough to get by on.
So focus on what you want to create, not what you want to eliminate and you will create powerful habits of behavior and thought with a lot more ease and joy.
Small Business owners who do not have a background in marketing often confuse PR (public Relations) and advertising. Advertising refers to a very specific thing – buying space/time in a public medium such as print, radio, TV, or billboard. Public relations refers to everything else we do to promote ourselves and our business.
Frankly, unless you’ve got a serious marketing budget, it hardly pays these days to advertise. The point is to create name recognition and visibility. And in order to do that with advertising, even in a small market, you have to spend serious cash over a long period of time. The generally agreed upon statistic is 7-15 exposures to your name/brand to even begin to create name recognition through advertising.
So, as a small business owners – the key is niche marketing (not niche advertising) using a global approach to reach a very small targeted niche segment of the market. By global I mean – all the avenues within your reach:
How do you do all of this while working a job, raising a family, having a life? You absolutely must have a plan and time management/project management systems in place. Because these things all need to happen with some consistency in order to create success.
And you need to include follow-up for the leads that these things create. Because if you don’t follow-up, the energy that you initiate with these activities will very quickly dissipate.
Here it is a rainy March morning and as I sit down to write to you, I realize that I’ve been avoiding doing this writing for some time. Would you call this writer’s block? Perhaps. And it occurs to me, that writer’s block – or creator’s block for the purpose of this conversation, can look different for different people.
But if you endeavor to live a creative life, and even more so, make a prosperous living from your creative endeavors, feeling blocked around creating can be an unpleasant, even painful place to be. And of course, it just may get in the way of pursuing your dreams.
Whether you are writing words, writing songs, painting, taking photographs, sculpting, designing jewelry or in any way creating on a regular basis, creator’s block can happen. Perhaps it shows up by being “too busy” with other things. Perhaps, you sit down and nothing comes – just blank. Or you get “distracted” by email, the phone, the dishes….
In my experience, most creative blocks are caused by one of three obstacles:
I’ve often heard from clients that they got blocked because they got a bad review or what they perceived as negative feedback and found they couldn’t create for months after. Has this ever happened to you? I’ve found that the artists most vulnerable to this are already fighting an inner critic and that external voice, especially from a mentor or someone you really respect, can just amplify the inner critic to the point where all creative juices stop flowing. For artist’s who have a strong internal supportive voice, external feedback becomes just that – feedback. Take what you can use, leave the rest.
When it comes to your environment blocking your creative endeavors, this can be tricky. There are so many ways in which your environment can act as a block – whether it’s your physical space (like the gardener who is right now outside with his leaf blower!), your temporal or time management, or your tendency to give other people’s requests for your time and energy more importance than your own creative priorities.
Learning to set up your environment to support your creativity is a key skill for any creative entrepreneur.
All of these issues can be summed up into one: the inability or unwillingness to prioritize yourself – prioritize your needs, your values, your beliefs, your own inner voices and muses.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t be open to other people’s needs or constructive criticism, but if their needs and voices are drowning out your own, then you have a problem. And I’m betting a creative block isn’t the only way that issue is turning up in your life.
For this issue of the Newsletter, I’m going to focus on a method that has helped me tremendously and that my clients have used with great results. When you are creating, whatever you are creating, use the following steps:
Step 1 – ideas, brainstorming, brain dump – no editing
Step 2 – sort through the ideas and brainstorming and develop an idea into a first draft
Step 3 – edit that idea into a first public draft and send it out for feedback
Step 4 – take the feedback and polish and hone the work
Step 5 – repeat step 3 and 4 until you are truly happy with the result!
The first step is to put all your ideas down on paper. Good ideas, bad ideas, bits and pieces of ideas, unformed ideas – everything. You want to have absolutely no filters here. You may work this step in a structured way – you sit down to the page for 1 hour every day. Or you may just carry around a notepad or tape recorder with you, every where you go. The key here is to capture the ideas – good, bad and ugly – all the ideas down on paper.
This step can show up in many forms, depending on the medium in which you’re creating. For a visual artist, it may be doodling in your sketchbook, jotting down ideas of themes or concepts. For the songwriter, it may be bits of melody, lyric phrases, or even just a book of song titles. For the novelist or screen writer, it could be bits of dialogue, scene ideas.
I was working with a novelist awhile back, and she was blocked. My assignment to her was to write 1000 words a day – badly. She was to write as badly as she could. We were going for her writing to really suck!
The point is to just put the perfectionist on hold here. This isn’t about creating a final product or even a good first draft. It’s just to allow the creative juices to flow.
This step should be scheduled and given a decent chunk of time several days a week. What you want to do with this time is to sit down and look through your ideas, your bits and pieces and starting with the pieces you feel most drawn to, flesh them out into a first draft.
You may work on more than one project at a time during this stage. But what’s most important is that you set up this time as completely separate from either Step 1 or Steps 3, 4, or 5. Again, we aren’t going for a final product here and you want to continue having the perfectionist on hold.
During this stage work on your projects enough to find out if there’s a solid idea. Flesh it out enough to be ready to show to some people for feedback. Get to a first draft. And then put it aside for at least 3 days.
After you’ve left this project alone for several days, come back to it and give it a read through. Edit it, play with the language, the order. Try different things with it, perhaps change the rhythm or the key it’s in. Try using a different size brush or color scheme.
Again, do not mix this step with either Step 1 or 2. The part of your brain that you use during editing and adjusting is not appropriate during the initial stages of creation – it only tends to block things. Because this is when you begin to use your critical facilities. This is when the voice that tells you that you can do better becomes useful.
But beware of spending too much time here. Again, we’re not going for the finished product yet. We’re looking to create a version that’s good enough to get feedback on, which leads me to Steps 4 and 5.
There are two critical factors for this step. You must choose your people very carefully. You want someone who is going to be ruthlessly honest with you. You want someone who really knows your medium and your genre (and if they know your niche, it’s even better). And you want someone who can communicate feedback in a voice you are willing to hear.
Some successful artists use family – although this can be tricky. Most successful artists use experts in their field (which includes editors for the written word). Some even use their loyal fan base. Many songwriters use the TAXI submissions to get feedback to improve their music or the TAXI forums to get feedback from fellow songwriters. Some writers will go to a writer’s group or their editor and agent for feedback.
Whoever you choose, remember to stay open to the pieces of the feedback that you can use. Not all of their suggestions will be immediately useful – that’s ok. Sometimes they may make a suggestion which you don’t want to use – but if you stay open, it may trigger you to discover the exact right change you need to make.
Sit with the feedback and go back to your project and edit it.
You may go through Steps 3 and 4 several times. Probably the hardest part is to know when you’re done, to know when more editing ends up doing more harm than good. Be wary of ironing out all the ripples in the fabric of your creation. There’s no such thing as perfection. And if there were – it would bore us to tears.
If you listen to your inner quiet voice – you will know when you’re done. And use your discipline to stop, declare the project done, and start marketing it!
One last note: Your voice is the voice that matters. When being open to feedback, trust yourself. Stay open to their opinions, reactions, and suggestions. But don’t sell out on yourself. It’s a fine line and one that takes practice. This isn’t about creating by committee. It’s about always growing, developing and honing your craft. No matter how talented you are, truly powerful art is always a marriage between talent and craft. This method allows you to use the best of both.
Every morning, I like to start the day by creating a context for the day. Some people think of these as affirmations, but that’s not quite what I mean. I mean that I decide what my perspective is for the day. What’s my paradigm? How am I going to perceive my world, my circumstances, my environment? What reality do I choose today? My context gives meaning to the world. It actually creates my experience.
A few days ago my friend, Moriah Diamond, asked for my favorite affirmation on facebook. And she took all the affirmations that her friends shared with her and created this lovely video clip. I just had to share it with you!
You’ll see mine about half way through. As you can see, it’s more than just an affirmation. It’s a way of interacting with the world. “Everything that happens to me – means – I am wildly successful.” How often do you interpret your world that way? How do you think you’d feel if you could look at your cat’s hairball on the carpet and say to yourself, “Well, this is just more proof of how successful I am!” and really mean it.
That’s my context – what’s yours?
In general, when bad things happen or when the good stuff doesn’t happen fast enough, many people have one of two reactions – avoidance or blame. And neither of those responses will make you feel better or create a different outcome in your future.
What will shift things for you is to consciously, intentionally choose your response. This is called response-ability (pun completely intended). When something happens that is different than what you believe you want – the only proactive and empowering choice is to own it – this is my result.
As long as you’re avoiding it (if I don’t look at it, maybe it will go away) or blaming someone or something for it (it’s the business, it’s the economy, it’s my childhood, it’s my parents, blah, blah, blah) or even if you’re blaming yourself (it’s all my fault for not doing/saying/thinking the right thing) – you are not taking responsibility and you are powerless.
So, I recommend looking at all circumstances with an attitude of gratitude. Now, that may sound all new-agey woo-woo to you. I mean, when you’re drowning under the flood of bad stuff, how the heck are you supposed to feel grateful, right?
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor E. Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning.
In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl explores his horrible experiences in a Nazi Death-Camp. If he could find meaning in the suffering of a Concentration Camp, don’t you think you might be able to look for a glimmer of light and gratitude in the midst of your own human drama?
When I was very ill with CFS, I practiced being grateful for the days I could stand long enough to brush my teeth. And if you practice looking for what there is to be grateful for, that will expand – there will be more and more blessings in your life. Because what we focus on expands.
But maybe that’s too much to start with. What if you just start with curiosity? What if you look at your circumstances, and ask – “Huh, isn’t that interesting – I wonder what this is about? What’s the lesson here? How do I grow, expand and develop from this place?” And choose to respond with gratitude for the experience, the learning, the challenge that asks you to overcome – to be bigger than you’re used to.
All of our experiences, in each moment are our teachers, but only if we actually look for the learning.
By the way, if you’re doing this just so the bad feelings will go away and the bad stuff will stop happening – that’s another form of avoidance. So, acceptance-of-what-is is an important piece of this puzzle.
So, your job is to respond with the question – what’s the positive, constructive feedback in this experience?
So much of our experience is determined by what questions we ask about our situation. So, let me suggest a few alternative questions:
Instead of – why does this always happen to me? How about – What’s the payoff for me in creating this experience over and over? What benefit am I getting?
Instead of – Why can’t I get what I want? How about – What can I learn from what I am getting and how can I experiment with different responses to achieve different outcomes?
Instead of – What am I doing wrong? How about – what am I doing right? And how are my expectations creating this result?
Instead of – Why do I have to work so hard (or why is life so hard)? How about – how am I creating my own suffering? How could I think about these circumstances differently so I can move out of suffering and begin to enjoy this process?
Instead of – Why are there always these obstacles in front of me? How about – what are some new and different (out-of-the-box) ways to get around these obstacles? Who can help me with this? What are the most outrageous possible solutions to this problem?
If your questions focus on the value, the learning, the opportunities and the joy of the process and the experience, your attitude will organically shift into gratitude.
So start asking good questions, empowering questions, humorous questions and questions focused on solutions. And always, always, always, be looking for what the blessings are in each experience.
I am truly grateful that you take your precious time to read my words.
I was having dinner with a client and two new friends the other night. And we were talking about values and Ben Franklin’s Virtues.
Senia, a positive psychology coach, chimed in that she had used her name to create an anagram for her values. And then we were off! So we all came up with a Values Anagram using our names! I like mine so much, that I had to share it with you!
So tell me, what do you stand for? As we all have our own unique meanings for words, over the next few posts, I’ll tell you what those words mean to me.
For the last few weeks, the conversation in almost every client session has involved how the economy may be, might be, could affect my client’s business or financial life. Is this a concern for you?
So, how do you create a prosperous living doing what you love in this (or any) economic climate?
There’s a saying floating around out there among the financial and personal growth Gurus – “I refuse to participate in the recession.” I agree with their point, but I think we can come up with an even better, more empowering mantra to keep you focused and clear in this time of challenge, uncertainty and fear.
About 80% of the status of our economy is based on what is called “confidence” in economic terms – consumer confidence, investor confidence, stock market confidence. The definition of a bull or bear market – is just that – confidence or the lack thereof. (And more than 92% of all statistics are made up.)
In fact, a famous economist, John Maynard Keynes, asserted that the Great Depression of the 1930s was largely attributable to a collapse of public confidence, which led to dramatic declines in consumer and business spending.
So what does that really mean? The health of our economy is based on our BELIEF about the health of our economy. And what do we know about beliefs? Well, they’re NOT REAL.
So, while most of the country is choosing to believe in the recession, does that belief serve you in your efforts to build a prosperous business? I don’t think so!
Now, as I mentioned in my introduction, the Gurus are advising this mantra – I refuse to participate in the recession. While I agree with their intention, I disagree with their choice of phrase.
First of all – when you look at that sentence, what is the word that keeps popping up? Recession. You have to remember how the brain works – it doesn’t get negative commands. So, what are you telling it? Recession, recession, recession!
My other problem with this phrase? It’s reactionary. It’s coming from a place of victim. It’s, frankly, buying into the beliefs of the majority and then saying, “No.” to those beliefs. What you resist persists. You’re just feeding more energy into those beliefs.
What is the state of mind or belief that will create a sense of freedom, joy and lightness? What is the context that will motivate you into action to build your prosperous business?
How about – “I am in charge of my own prosperity.” Or “My success is a reflection of my beliefs, intentions and actions” Or “I trust in the abundant universe.” Or “My every action is drawing me closer to my Vision (oh, and you want to very specific about that Vision!).
In other words – if you refuse to participate in the recession – what ARE you participating in? “I am creating my prosperity with each breath.” Use one of these, or come up with a phrase that works for you.
How do you know it works for you? Say it out loud and check how you feel! If you feel better, if it’s easier to breath freely, if it puts a smile on your face and revs up your engine to get into action – well, then it works for you!
So, create a positively focused context, use it as your mantra and get busy creating your prosperity!
Last week, in the Artist’s EDGE Membership Q&A call, I fielded an interesting question about procrastination.
How do you get yourself to do the things you’re afraid to do?
It’s one thing to take the BIG SCARY steps. You can work yourself up to take those actions, holding your breath and leaping. But what about the day-to-day things, the small scary steps? How do you motivate yourself each and every day to take those small steps which feel so hard?
It’s been said, “Do what you fear, until you fear it no more.” And it’s true that repetition of a feared action will lessen your fear of it. But how do you get started? How do you get yourself to do it, over and over, while it still feels scary and hard? This requires a different kind of courage. This brand of courage requires perseverance and tenacity and a certain kind of stubbornness.
Here are a few tricks that work for me:
Just like writing this blog post – not so hard, right? Phew!