It’s Harder Than You Think – And Why That’s Okay

I remember going to the gym for the very first time.

I had dreams of becoming super buff in less than 3 months and every week, I looked in the mirror, disappointed with the results I was seeing.

I couldn’t see the incremental progress, because I was too close to the fire. I wanted to be buff FAST. I didn’t want to, and I didn’t notice myself, gaining a tiny bit of muscle every single day.

I was blinded by the promises of 6 pack shortcuts, buff guys who have been training for YEARS, selling a program to look “just like them” in just a couple months.

Little did I know, that the human body has biological limits on how fast we can gain muscle.

As a guy, I could only gain about 1-2 pounds of muscle every MONTH. That’s right. That’s 2 pounds every MONTH, and I was expecting to gain 5, or even 10 pounds per month which is nearly 2 pounds per week.

I wanted fast progress, instead of settling in for the long haul.

You can probably guess what happened.

I ended up not following through with the program, being disappointed with my results, and coming back to it time and time again, only to repeat the same exact mistakes.

And 2 pounds per month might not seem like a lot, but if I consistently worked out, ate right, and slept well for a year, I would gain 12-24 pounds of muscle.

After a month of progress, I would look very similar to how I looked when I started, but after a year, I would be nearly unrecognizable.

Many of us overestimate how much progress we can make in a week or a month, but underestimate the progress that we can make in a year or 5 years.

And this doesn’t just apply to the gym.

How many people do you know who jump from opportunity to opportunity, certain that THIS IS THE ONE, and never end up going anywhere?

They see people who have worked for YEARS to get to where they are now, and they want to be at the same place where those people are, but without putting in the same amount of work.

One concept related to this, is called $0/hour work. (Which is an article by Billy from ForeverJobless linked in the description below.) (Billy has a lot of unique ideas, so I recommend you check out his blog.)

The basic idea is this:

When you’re just starting a business, you might have to put in dozens, or even hundreds of hours, before actually getting paid.

You might have to research the target market, figure out their true needs, create the right solution, prototype, experiment, and break barriers to solve the problem that people have.

Someone who you see earning hundreds of thousands of dollars online, might have spent months, or even years, on figuring out how to solve the problem they’re solving to make that money.

Or maybe they had to spend months on figuring out how to build an audience, or how to find the right audience.

Either way, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that most people aren’t willing to do this $0/hour work, and most people aren’t willing to think long term.

So… What does this all mean for you?

If you are able to overcome your natural tendency to be drawn to short-term gains, you might lose out on money NOW, but it’s likely that you will be better off in the long-term.

You Are A Thief

You are a thief.

You don’t rob houses or banks. You steal ideas, concepts, and knowledge.

However, you’re not stealing from the person you got that idea or knowledge from.

You’re stealing from the people who would have first encountered this idea from you. From the people who needed a reminder of this specific concept today. From the thought leader who might have stumbled upon your publication and influenced the lives of hundreds or thousands of people by sharing it with them.

Sure, you might be reiterating an idea you got somewhere else a couple years ago. Combining ideas. Or even repeating a story you just heard today.

But most things in life have already been said by someone smart. There are no ideas in the world, where everyone who needed to hear them, has heard them.

That’s why you’re not stealing from the person you originally got the idea from. (Although you should still cite them/link to them if you know who it was.)

Take a look at the following list:

  • Tony Robbins
  • Paul Graham
  • James Altucher
  • Grant Cardone
  • Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Brendan Burchard

All of them are rock-stars within their niches, but you probably haven’t heard of ALL of them, and even if you have, you likely haven’t heard every single important message every single person on that list wants to convey.

If someone has an audience of 100,000,000, there’s still nearly 7,500,000,000 people on the planet who haven’t heard their message.

Is their message important to every single person on the planet?

Most likely not.

But could it be important to 1/10 of everyone on the planet?

If we assume their message is important enough, then they’ve only reached 15% of all people who could benefit from it, and for most people hearing it once isn’t enough. To truly understand the message, they need to hear it multiple times throughout their lives.

Maybe they’re more mature now. More understanding. More compassionate.

Maybe they’re willing to listen more. Accept other people’s advice. Be humble.

It doesn’t matter.

You are just like the celebrities who haven’t spread their message to everyone who needs to hear it.

There is knowledge inside of you, begging to be let out.

Maybe this is knowledge you obtained today. Maybe it’s knowledge you’ve had for a while. Or maybe, just maybe, it is knowledge that you and only you could’ve come up with. (An insight so rare that it only happens with 1/10000 or 1/100000 people.)

Don’t bottle up your knowledge even if you think it’s been said already.

You never know who might benefit from it.

Why You Shouldn’t Keep Your Ideas Secret – The Adjacent Possible

Paris Stephanie Tarnier:
  • Chicken coop -> newborn incubator to cut the mortality rate in half
    • A long chain of ideas: capturing animals for food/livestock -> what if animals could be entertainment (zoos) -> chicken coop in the zoo
    • Combined with: let’s eat that thing that chickens lay -> how do we increase their number (incubator) -> zoos
    • Developed world the incubators break & people can’t fix them because they’re too different from what they know -> let’s create it out of parts they already have there and know how to fix (automobile parts)
  • “We have a natural tendency to romanticize breakthrough innovations, imagining momentous ideas transcending their surroundings, a gifted mind somehow seeing over the detritus of old ideas and ossified traditions. But ideas are works of bricolage; they’re built out of that detritus. We take the ideas we’ve inherited or that we’ve stumbled across and we jigger them together into some new shape.”
  • Adjacent possible: all the “states or places” we can get to from where we’re currently at.
    • It’s a house that gets bigger with every room you open. As you open each door, you see a room with more doors, that lead to rooms with more doors that lead to places you couldn’t reach from where you started.
    • Based on the evolutionary idea of the adjacent possible.
    • Atoms -> H2O -> one cell carbon based life forms -> multi cell life forms -> etc until we reach to humans
The multiple- Many brilliant ideas often occur to many people around the world working completely separately from each other.
  • Sunspots: four scientists in 4 dif countires
  • Electrical battery by 2 people
  • Isolating oxygen in the air by 2 people
  • Require previous ideas to develop new ones.
    • EX: to isolate oxygen you needed to:
      • Know that you’re looking for something in teh air
      • Advanced scales
      • Once the above conditions are met, it’s a matter of time until we reach a new idea
Technological and scientific advances rarely break out of the adjacent possible. However, sometimes people have ideas that jump 50 years ahead of their time
  • Those ahead of their time ideas end up being short term failures
    • Analytical engine designed in early 19th century by Charles Babbage
      • Basically a computer, but it was way ahead of its time
      • Wasn’t in the adjacent possible because it required parts not known yet and if they built it using their current knowledge it’d be too slow
All of us live in our own version of the adjacent possible:
  • Organizations, work, our capabilities, relationships, etc
  • “Challenging problems don’t usually define their adjacent possible in a clear, tangible way. Part of coming up with a good idea is discovering what those spare parts are, and ensuring that you’re not just recycling the same old ingredients.”

The Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday, Summary, Quotes, and Lessons

How to create something lasting

  • 80/20 marketing to work ratio doesn’t work
  • People who are thinking about things other than how to make a great product never make a great product
  • Powerful work is a struggle and it requires great sacrifice
  • The difference between a great work and an idea for great work is all the time, sweat, effort, and agony that go into engaging that idea and turning it into something real
  • YOU must do the work YOURSELF
  • Art is the kind of marathon where you cross the finish line and instead of getting a medal placed around your neck, the volunteers roughly grab you by your shoulders and walk you over to the starting line of another marathon
  • It doesn’t matter what the deadlines are or who is breathing down your neck — in a year, will the extra two days you spent seem ecxessive? In ten years, will spending ten extra days, or even ten weeks, seem like a long time?
  • You have to shift your “goal timeframe” and make tough choices.
  • Hemingway rewrote the ending of A Farewell to Arms 47 times, and the first part of the book 50 times.
  • Just like good wine has to be aged, an idea has to be given time and space to develop.
  • Test your ideas small and use the MVP framework when possible.
  • Decide who you’re creating for. If you’re creating for everyone, it’s the same as creating it for no one. You can’t wait until after you’re done to figure out who you made it for.
  • Imagine or find one ideal audience member and write/create for them/to them.
  • Just as you should know who it’s for, you should also ask “what does it do” for your audience?
  • Create your own category. Being the only one category is better than being the best in another, especially if you’re trying to compete in a competitive market.
  • If your idea is original, you’ll have to ram it down people’s throats.
  • Work is unlikely to be layered if it is written in a single stream of consciousness. Deep, complex work is built through a relentless, repetitive process of re-visitation.
  • It takes time, effort and sacrifice to make something that lasts.

How to position, package, and perfect your work

  • Audiences can’t magically know what is inside something they haven’t seen. They have no clue that it will change their lives. You can’t be the self-conscious wallflower in the corner, hoping that people will seee through the act and just know how great you are. Someone is going to have to tell them. (Dish presentation and taste.)
  • Even though it’s hard, you HAVE to take full responsibility for everything here. Just because you have help doesn’t mean they’re going to take care of everything for you, or that it will all turn out for the best.
  • You need an editor. The final decision is on you, but more often than not your first draft will be terrible.
  • When people tell you something is wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
  • Getting feedback requires humility. It deamnds that you subordinate your thoughts about your project and your love for it and entertain the idea that someone else might hvae a valuable thing or two to add.
  • One sentence, one paragraph, one page. This is a _____ that does____. This helps people _______.
  • You must understand which conventions of your genre you’re observing, and which ones you’re taking a risk on.
  • A creator can’t magically inherit the audience of another. There’s no convention for Malcolm Gladwell fans.
  • You must be able to explicitly say who you are building you thing for. You must know what you are aiming for– you’ll miss otherwise.
  • Service the core audience first and then expand.
  • You must create room for the audience to inhabit in and relate to the work so they see themselves as the hero and see their friends as the heros so they recommend it to them.
  • You’re not just competing with current published work. You’re also competing against the other greats that came before you. EX: New TV shows compete with Breaking Bad. New books with Harry Potter or Shakespeare. New films with the classics.
  • Of course you can judge a book by its cover– that’s why books have covers.
  • Nothing has sunk more creators and caused more unhappiness than this: our inherently human tendency to pursue a strategy aimed at accomplishing one goal while simultaneously expecting to achieve other goals entirely unrelated

How to market it

  • You can cut back on a lot of things as a leader, but the last thing you can ever skimp on is marketing. Your product needs a champion.
  • You must apply the same creativity and energy into marketing as you put into making. Marketing is an opportunity for you to distinguish yourself, to beat out the other talented folks whose entitlement or laziness holds them back.
  • Accept that nobody cares about what you have made (right now) and work from there.
  • Word of mouth is key because you can’t keep advertising forever.
  • Just because you’re playing the long game doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on creating an explosive launch.
  • While a launch date is artificial, it helps create momentum, and customers tend to choose what appears to have momentum.
  • Do a lot of work in advance so it seems like you’re everywhere on the day of the launch.
  • The problem for most artists isn’t piracy. It’s obscurity.
  • Think about all the stuff you haven’t checked out even though most of it is really cheap. There is so much out there that you couldn’t possibly consume it all in your lifetime. So we ignore a lot of it, especially the stuff that looks expensive.
  • Try to find people least likely to get a request from someone like you, and aproach them first, instead of going where everyone else is going.
  • Much of the press that people chase is ephemeral and innefectual, yet expensive and time consuming to get. Media outlets have trouble getting people to pay for their own product — what makes you so sure they’re going to be able to convince their readers and viewers to buy yours?
  • While other creators waste their time chasing media that doesn’t work, there are plenty of PR strategies that do work– and, better yet, are easier and often costless.
  • Do things that create media opportunities for reporters. Cut thorigh the noise, make a statement, and do most of the legwork required.
  • Platforms come and go like the wind. It’s always better to focus on the bigger picutre, on the things that don’t change.

How to build a lasting audience

  • Becoming a perennial seller requires more than just releasing a project into the world. It requires the development of a career. It means building a fan base both before and after a project, and itmeans thinking differently than most people out there selling something.
  • Networking isn’t about going to networking events and handing out business cards- that’s flyering. It is intead about forming, developing, and maintaining real relationships. It’s about being valuable and being avaialble so one day the favor might be returned.
  • Creating more high quality work will help you market your previous work.
  • It’s not enough to make one great work. You should try to make a lot of it. Very few of us can afford to abandon our gift after our first attempt, convinced that our legacy is secured. Nor should we. We should prove to the world, and to ourselves that we can do it again… and again.
  • It doesn’t matter how popular your product is or how long you’ve been doing it. To the majority of people you and your product will still be new.
  • Luck is polarizing. The successful like to pretend it does not exist. The unsuccessful or the jaded pretend that it is everything. Both explanations are wrong.
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