Instead of using this time of year to bask in reflection I rather share some useful bits with you. A lot of people like to give advice. Most of it is bullshit. Actually, it’s worse than bullshit because at least you can use bullshit as fertilizer to grow some crops in your backyard. I found that the majority of insights that people want to share with you has no real substance and is based on ego and not experience.
So in this post, I’ve done you the favor of filtering the best nuggets I received this year from people worth listening to that really helped me and our business this past year. Many of these really helped me see things clearer and prompted me to make small adjustments that made all the difference.
Resistance is real and it’s my enemy – Steven Pressfield
If you haven’t read Pressfield’s book War of Art, then make sure you do ASAP. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in 2013. If you are trying to build a business, create a new product, write a book or pursue any creative endeavor, the take away you need to know and learn (read the book) is there are internal forces that keep us from doing the work we need to do. This is beyond procrastination and combating it is not as simple as playing your favorite pump-up song to get your ass in gear.
Pressfield calls this Resistance and explains why it is our enemy. Without making a total mess of his work in trying to explain, resistance is real and you have to be on your guard at all times if you expect to get anything of value done.
The take away: Just knowing what you are up against and being conscious of the fact you are fighting resistance always, is a takeaway in itself.
Design is in the message- Justin Jackson
Justin makes the compelling argument that design is all about augmenting your message, a message that starts with your words. If you have a message that isn’t compelling enough to your audience, your snazzy design isn’t going to do much good. A great design does wonders for your brand only when your brand’s message is strong. It only augments your message, it doesn’t create it.
The take away: Starting with words and ensuring you have something meaningful to say that resonates with your audience is where design gets its direction. When you start with words, with a message, you end up with a design that leaves them remembering you.
We all believe in something. What does my Audience believe in?- Seth Godin
One of the most powerful reads I enjoyed this last year was Seth Godin’s best selling book Tribes. The book is packed with many insightful bits, but the one that really was a work of art to me was his take on faith. When Seth speaks about faith, he is purely talking about one’s beliefs.
We all believe in something. Without faith, we would never get anything done. If I didn’t believe that this post was worth writing and publishing, I wouldn’t be in front of my computer now. If you didn’t have faith that the sun would rise tomorrow, you wouldn’t set your alarm for the next morning.
So the question is what does your audience believe in and is your message supporting those beliefs? Are you creating things worth believing in? If you’re creating an eBook, is it in line with your audience’s beliefs? And if not how do you make them believe?
The take away: This is such an insightful way of looking at product creation and marketing. Beliefs are stronger than we may give them credit. Leveraging that, in a good way, makes complete sense to me. Create with beliefs in mind.
You can do anything, IF you want it bad enough.- Grant Peelle
We’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Grant Peelle this last year. Grant has been a great friend and if you don’t already know who he is, you ought to. We interviewed Grant for People Who Know Their Shit and the message he sends in that interview and in every thing he does is: You can do anything, IF you want it bad enough.
Grant walks the talk. He left his comfortable life in real estate to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a filmmaker. He documents this event in his directorial debut, I’m Fine, Thanks. Grant is one of those people that just pumps you up just being around him. Not because he is shouting affirmations at you but because he is passionate about going after what you want.
Grant reminds me that there are no excuses. If you want it, go get it. I often feel a sense of comfort when speaking to him because I feel like he sings the same song as we do. And even determined people need support.
The take away: Find out what you want more than anything in this world and go for it with everything you got. Don’t stop. Keep going. Keep trying because those who ‘make it’ really only make it because they’re the only ones standing after it’s all said and done.
Stop making up things to be afraid of. Only you can be you.- Leo Babbouta
I’m a reader of Zen Habbits, Leo Babouta’s simple yet powerful blog. I learned a lot from Leo but the most powerful lesson I learned was not a post or book he has published, but his use of uncopywright. His entire blog, and all his ebooks, have been uncopyrighted since January 2008.
This means he has put all his written work in the public domain. He explicitly states there is no need to email him for permission and you may use his content however you want, with or without credit.
He is not a fan copyright laws but more importantly this statement on his website has me respecting Leo at a whole new level. He isn’t afraid of copy cats or competitors. He isn’t consumed with ‘what if’s’ and protecting information that he believes is best if it is spread freely. He understands that it’s just chatter in our heads and if someone wants to copy your work, they’ll do it and chasing them down is not worth your effort. Moreover, he encourages others to improve upon his work.
The take away: Stop worrying about things that don’t matter and get to work. This is insanely useful advice.
I really don’t have much to add to the above mentioned but I do want to close with this. Steven, Justin, Seth, Grant, Leo, if you happen to be reading this- Thank you. You have impacted us. We appreciate you.