We all want to live a life aligned with our purpose, and do work that unleashes our unique gift. There’s never been a better time to do that than now. The world has more entrepreneurs, contractors, and writers than than it ever has. The current state of the technological connection and access has enabled 16 year old kids to build YouTube businesses.
In a world of infinite possibility and freedom to choose a path, many of us struggle to choose anything at all. Analysis paralysis they call it, and it can lead us to make conservative choices, moving towards the status-quo.
This piece is for those who have that sneaking feeling that there’s something more to create in the world, and it’s going to be big. You want to be more creative and do that thing you’ve wanted to do for a long time, but you don’t know where to start. You don’t know the first thing about business or writing or video blogging, but you’ve got the itch to bring it to life. Maybe you’ve already started working on your project, but you’re feeling stuck at an impasse. If you’re there, this is for you.
10 rules for success in creating a business that brings out your unique gift
1. Acknowledge how hard it is going to be
Any great creation takes a massive amount of time and energy to come to fruition. You are going to need to pour out tons of energy in to whatever you want to build if you want to succeed. Prepare for the difficulty of hours and days spent on your project. Most people hate this hearing this. We all want quick results with little effort. We live in a time where we’re conditioned to look for quick results, easy wins, and hacks that help us skip the line to the top. Everybody is looking for the perfect formula to get their Facebook/Instagram followers to 100k because that seems to be the key to success, but there is no easy 5 step formula to social media success. The goal is to provide REAL value for people, and that requires creativity and the production of valuable material, not just facebook likes.
Instead of focussing on numbers from day 1 - “how do I get to 10,000 followers the fastest?” - focus on pouring energy into creating real value for people. Don’t try to copy other people’s path to success.
Your path will be your own. You can’t hitch a ride on someone else’s success and have it work long-term.
If your path is too easy, you’re missing something: you’re settling, you’re faking, you’re copying. If it’s too easy, you’re off the track of your growth edge.
Belief isn’t going to substitute for hard work here. Many people focus primarily on mindset, vision, and “manifesting” without spending time in the trenches creating. If you want to create something that offers more sustainable value than your competitors, you’re going to have to outperform.
2. Its not about what you get. Its about what you give.
Some of us enter in to a new venture with mixed motivations. We want to offer a service or product, and we also want to make money (or get rich) doing it. Sometimes getting rich is the primary motivation, and we want to get to the top as fast as possible. We’re walking in saying “How can I get what I want as fast as possible". This mindset takes you out of creative flow, and puts you in a kind of "scarcity mindset”, frantically trying to extract value from something that hasn’t yet matured.
Instead, turn your focus to how you can serve others, and what you can bring to the table. Put your focus there for the first while, and you’ll find fulfilment in the creation of something that ACTUALLY helps people. Once you’ve created something that sells itself, marketing will come more naturally. For example, Dave Asprey spent years building out the Bulletproof Blog before selling products on the site. He established himself as an expert first, then built out his product line.
3. See through your own bullshit and your limitations
We all have barriers to success, especially when it comes to putting our brainchild out in the public market to be scrutinized and voted on by the public. Fear of failure and ridicule runs deep. Self sabotage is a common occurrence, and you’ve probably seen it in yourself and your friends.
Self sabotage manifests in one of two ways:
Overinflation - Arrogance, puffing ourselves up, narcissism, a “better than” attitude.
Self-deprecation - under-inflation, “I’m not worthy of success”, “I don’t deserve it”.
Overinflation and arrogance are repulsive, counterproductive, and often disguised as confidence and being an “expert”. There’s nothing wrong with being a confident expert, but arrogance and overinflation can derail our success, our learning, and our growth. This might also look like putting your project out in the world expecting it to succeed, without getting feedback. If your product sucks and you’re not open to feedback, you’ll put something out that nobody wants.
Self-deprecation keeps us from moving forward, frozen in fear, or unable to show ourselves due to a lack of belief in ourselves. If you don’t believe that you’re worthy of having the success you want, you will keep yourself from having it. You will constantly under-sell yourself. Many people get stuck in the trap of acquiring infinite credentials, never feeling ready to lead and teach; always needing one more qualification, certificate, or degree. You can live your whole life chasing qualifications, until it’s too late to share your gifts with the world.
To see through your own BS, take these steps:
Focus on learning, not credentials. Acknowledge that your readiness is internal. It cannot be given or granted to you.
Don’t get lost in the endless pursuit of qualifications - start sharing
Cultivate and nurture an abundance mindset - “you already have what you need"
Fight fear with faith - You don’t have to know the whole roadmap of how it’s going to play out - focus on taking small steps towards your vision
Work to transcend your egoic story of - “I’m better-than/worse-than you all"
Find a container that will expose your self-sabotaging tendencies; A business mastermind or group of friends with a commitment to honesty. Use that container to “cook” your self-sabotage patterns.
4. Acknowledge that upfront energy consumption is high. Use whatever you have to as fuel
In my podcast episode with Jordan Gray, he shares that he flew to Asia with the intention of creating an online business that had “some” sales before he could return home. His fuel was the need to prove himself, and the very real prospect of not returning home until he was able to produce an income from online sales of his products. He acknowledged that the up-front energy demands for starting an online business would be HIGH. He lowered his expenses and placed himself in a position to focus deeply on the task at hand.
A rocket heading for space consumes a large proportion of its fuel just to escape the earth’s gravity. Any successful start-up business will require a similar energy expenditure. Giving too little energy could keep your project stuck on the ground for years.
Everyone has to find their own source of fuel for a new venture. Short term goals, success metrics, and rewards can be useful. Make them measurable and powerful. Be ready to find fast-burning fuel for your initial efforts. You’re going to need it. Over time, align more specifically with your long term goals and your ultimate purpose. This is important for maintaining a sustainable venture.
Example of short term goals:
*Write 20 articles for my new website before attempting to monetize.
*Write a book before I’m allowed to go on my next vacation.
*Finish building my free online course before I can start building my paid course.
*Help 10 kids get off the street and in to a safe living environment.
Example of long term goals:
*Impact and change the lives of young men for the better.
*Share as much love and compassion as I can with as many people as I can.
Choose work that you would be happy and satisfied with on your deathbed. Short term fuel is important, but don’t put all your energy output in to one quick sprint, expecting to be hands-off forever after that.
5. ENTROPY IS REAL - ALL MACHINES BREAK DOWN WITHOUT MAINTENANCE
All things require energy and maintenance. When you buy a car, it will run for a short time before running out of gas. If you take care of gas but nothing else, the engine will eventually seize without an oil change. Some refer to this as the law of entropy, where all things are moving towards a state of randomness and disorganization.
If you want to build something that will survive long term, you must acknowledge that all things break down without maintenance. Any business or creative venture you build will require your energy - or the energy of someone else - to ensure its survival. Whatever you bring to life, give it the energy it needs to stay alive and keep growing.
6. PLATEAUS AND ARE NORMAL AND PREDICTED. RESPOND ACCORDINGLY.
In the creation of any new thing, there is a rising wave of energy that occurs. You start to make progress on your project, and it nears completion. Our progress feels rewarding and we build energy until we’ve hit a milestone. Often, when we approach our achievements (finishing a degree, completing a project, ect.) we can feel somewhat unfulfilled and unsatisfied.
Many people find more fulfilment in the pursuit of a goal, rather than the completion of it. For this reason, it is important to do two things:
As you approach the completion of your goal (the cresting of the wave), turn your attention to a new goal to give your energy to. This allows you to switch your focus right when it is needed.
Set goals for your business (and life) that address the bigger picture of your life’s purpose, which aren’t so easy to achieve.
In all ventures, there are moments of exciting growth, and plateaus where not much is happening. That is normal and to be expected. In those times, it is important to stay in touch with the larger vision and purpose for your venture, and consider directing your energy to a new rising wave within your business to keep moving forward on multiple fronts.
7. Use your laser focus to get things done
We live in a time where everything and everyone is trying vying for your attention. It’s easy to spend an entire day checking emails and facebook feeds, without getting anything done. For this reason, developing a targeted “laser focus” as one of your tools can be very useful. Many people try to do multiple things at once, thinking they can split their energy between multiple ventures in a day, but the cost of switching focus is higher than you think. If you do too many things, pursue too many goals at once, entropy will have its way with you and you’ll get very little done. You’ll get tiny dopamine hits from each little task you complete, but you may get lost in an endless task of unimportant things.
Learn to shut out distractions and focus on exactly what is important to you for an extended period of time. This might require a geographical change, a technology hiatus, or some other drastic change. Isolating oneself and pouring energy in to one thing can sometimes look like workaholism - and it is if it becomes your every day state - but a laser-focus is very important in this day and age.
When things start to get done and you are making headway with your current goal, step back and assess where to direct energy next. Don’t get sucked in to directing all your energy towards one part of your project.
Another counterproductive cultural phenomenon is our need to be busy all the time. It’s very cool to be busy these days, but so much of that busy energy can be squandered by focussing on the wrong things.
Do not get sucked into the habit of getting work done for work’s sake. Busyness is not what moves the needle forward. Focus on the right things that gets creates real progress. Focus on what actually matters and stay aligned with your purpose.
Take periods of time where you focus deeply on what you want to achieve, without going overboard and losing your grip on other areas of your life - health, relationships, etc.
8. Use authentic relationships to find out the truth. Don’t do it on your own
The Lone Wolf 24/7-hustle solopreneur is exalted by many of us who seek to be protected, self sufficient, and strong on our own. But success does not happen in a vacuum, and the lone wolf mentality is usually your ego is running the show. All good entrepreneurs have a mastermind group where they can learn and grow from each other. If you want to find out how your business looks, get a mirror.
Authentic relationships can act as a powerful mirror for how you are showing up in the world. People in your life who are willing to be honest with you will tell you when you’re on track or off track with you ideas. Use your friends, your network, your mastermind to give you feedback and push you in the right direction. A group that knows you will be especially useful when facing your self-sabotage patterns as outlined above. If you don’t have a group like this, find one or create one and make it your top priority.
The highest value relationship you can have in your life is someone who is willing to be honest with you at all costs, and get to the TRUTH. Not what feels good. Not what you want to be true. But the truth of how you’re showing up, and how you could show up differently.
9. Compete with yourself - when you’re engaged in your own passion, there are no competitors
We tend to compare our insides to everyone else’s outsides. I feel under the weather, kind of crappy, and unmotivated, yet I see Johnny’s facebook photos and he’s living the dream. We all know this comparison is unfair, but we do it anyhow. We’ve been doing it since our teen years.
If you ever want to get past this, you’ll need to learn how to cut your own path through the forest and stop comparing yourself to others. Comparison is counterproductive, takes us out of our power, and it’s really just one of the ego’s games of “I’m better than or worse than that other guy.” It’s okay to use other people’s successes as inspiration, but remember that you have a unique flavour to bring to the world, and it’s up to you to bring that.
The most important metric of your success should be “Am I taking action that aligns with my values and my purpose?” If you can say YES to this, you’re winning. You’re burning long-term fuel that will take you where you want to go.
10. Have faith, and take action
Fear is a useful force in our lives, at the right time. But it can be a crippling force when it comes to putting our work out in to the world. Fear gives us messages like “What you’ve got may be the best you’ll ever have, so you should not risk leaving”, when you’re working a job that gives you less than 50% satisfaction in your life. The fearful mindset puts you at war with yourself, limiting your capacity to grow. It can be easy to play it safe and listen to stories like “Nobody is going to want my unique thing."
Faith is the antidote to fear. This isn’t always a religious term. In this case, it refers to the trust that there are forces at play that will support your survival and growth, as they have up until now. Faith is the trust that there is a process of growth, evolution, and progress in the universe, and the only limit to that growth is your own resistance to it.
Its more important to be “at bat” and not have a huge success with a piece of your project, rather than not starting at all for fear of inadequacy. So use faith to counter your fear and move beyond the story in your head that seeks to sabotage your progress forward. Cultivate a belief there is always more growth, abundance, and joy in your life if you choose to step forward.
The universe won’t hand you anything until you are ready for it. You have to PROVE that you are ready first, and the results will come. Nothing of value comes without some risk. You have to let go of that thing that is comforting in the present, which is also holding you back from your bigger better future. So let go, and move forward.
Conclusion - You can find passion, purpose, and fulfillment
There are millions of people in the world who are living their passion, aligned with their purpose, while making a living. You are surrounded by them. You can be one of them if you want it badly enough and take action in that direction. Trust that you don’t need to know every step of the path. You will be lead down the path step by step as long as you choose to step forward.
Extra notes to take with you. Do’s and Don’ts of bringing your unique gift to the world:
What to do:
Know that it will not be easy. If it is, you’re missing something. you’re settling, faking, or something off the track of your edge. If you’re not a little bit nervous, you’re off track.
Ask what you can GIVE
Cultivate and nurture an abundance mindset
Take a larger view on your life and see it from beginning to end.
Find calls to action in your life and use them for fuel
Choose work that you would be happy and satisfied with on your deathbed
Work towards providing value until you make some money, then set goals from there
Focus on learning, not credentials
Acknowledge that your readiness is internal. It cannot be given or granted to you. (listen and see where you really are, so you can truthfully move in the right direction. see the truth of what’s happening)
Attach your life’s meaning to goals that are not “achievable” and chip away at them forever
Acknowledge to yourself that your up-front energy expenditure will be high (rocket analogy)
Know that anything which does not receive your energy regularly will die eventually. The law of Entropy
Spend short bursts of highly concentrated energy to get projects off the ground, then step back and assess where to direct energy next. Don’t get sucked in to directing all your energy towards one part of your project.
Trust that you don’t have to have a complete roadmap for success. What’s more important is taking steps towards your vision.
Take action that aligns with your values
Cut your own path. Use other stories for inspiration, but keep your own flavour
Make room in your life for bigger, more aligned things: Remove things from your life that are not in line with you values and your purpose.
Ignore the voice in your head that seeks to sabotage your progress forward.
Cultivate faith in your life, believing that there is always more growth, abundance, and joy in your life if you choose to step forward.
Aim to live, love, and die completely, without regret.
What not to do:
Try to copy other people. Your thing will be your own. You can’t hitch a ride on someone else’s success and have it work long-term.
Look for a quick and easy way to the top.
Just focus on belief - “Just believe it, and it will happen!”
Focus on numbers from day 1. “how do I get to 10,000 followers the fastest?”
Ask what you can ‘get’ from the market
Listen to naysayers who think there isn’t a market for your thing, as long as it serves an actual need that exists.
Operate with a scarcity mindset
Get lost in the endless trap of endless qualifications
Hold yourself back due to thinking you are worse than you are. Or push your thing out there because your ego tells you that its great.
Lone Wolf - Do it all on your own. 24/7-hustle solopreneur is the way of the ego.
Over-identify (attach your identity to) the achievement of goals that are relatively achievable and tangible in the world.
Put all your energy output in to one quick sprint, expecting to be hands-off forever after that
Spread yourself too thin - seeking tiny dopamine hits in exchange for no real progress on any one project. The cost of task switching is high, and you risk getting nothing done.
Believe the lie that you have to know the whole roadmap and have the future laid-out in order to proceed.
Listen to that voice in your mind that says “You’re making a mistake. You’re not ready. You should just play it safe”
Give in to fear, believing stories like “This could be the best you’ll ever get”
If you liked this article, check out:
My Evolving Man podcast episode with Jordan Gray where we review this material.