Look back on your past year. How many initiatives and projects did you tell yourself, your spouse and your team that you were going to accomplish?
How much actually got done?
Don’t worry, those horrible stats are what most establish owners struggle with and it all stems from the same 1-2 keystone behavior – overestimating your work capacity and underestimating the effort required to get things done.
But what leads us to overshoot, what gives us that false sense of what we can get done in a week, month or quarter?
If you know the lies you tell yourself you can wake up and stop believing and investing in them or at least, acknowledge where you’re BSing yourself. And instead, you can choose to invest in things and activities that actually serve your betterment and leave your competitors lost in a cycle of self-destructive, mental masturbation. That’s the opportunity.
Let’s dive in.
The good news, first and foremost it’s not all on you. The causes of this condition are a combination of a few subtle unconscious decisions that were made responding to outright lies and disingenuous prescriptive beliefs. It is indeed at least in part a conspiracy of heavily marketed beliefs we buy into that helps us create this false sense of capacity. These are the same forces and beliefs that keep you shopping and filling your garage full of crap you rarely if ever use – just applied to your business.
Here are the big lies you’re buying into:
1. The belief in unlimited capacity – That you can do it all, have it all, be it all, all at once, at any time you want to.
There’s a lot of fine print that comes with this little piece of hustle porn. It tricks you into believing that tradeoffs don’t apply to you, that the space-time continuum doesn’t apply to you, so long as you click your fucking heels, wish on a star, and use the power of The Secret, after drinking your fucking green smoothie. That ain’t real life friend. The trade-offs are real and they are more difficult than ever. You will not achieve abundance through denial. Read that again.
You will not achieve abundance by denying the facts or ignoring the conditions of your situation.
It won’t happen. It doesn’t matter how powerful a “manifester” you are. You still need to reconcile yourself, your business, with action, in a particular and finite environment. There are opportunities everywhere, but you must cultivate a discerning eye in order to see them. Vague wishing won’t cut it.
Stop following the basic and vague advice of the mow, blow and go gurus who lead you to these beliefs in the first place. The only things they’ve mastered are loose concepts and snake oil. They usually lack substance and a tight game under the hood.
2. Your company isn’t good enough, it is lacking.
This belief is what most marketers and salespeople leverage to sell you easy buttons, potions, lotions, magnets, and shakes. This how they tap into that addiction to procrastinate your real issues and get high on whatever hopium is being sold. The truth is, we’re never really perfectly ready for growth. We go at it with all we got, held together with duct tape. It’s ugly at first. It’s funny how the world would have you believe that you always need one more thing before you make your move. But then, before you get it, necessity pushes you to act or surrender.
You are far more resourceful if you take the time to reconnect and remember. I catch myself holding out to have the right gear, the right setup, the perfect plan. Then I remember that perfect isn’t the goal, getting things done well, consistently is. I remember that my first triathlon required a duct tape covered mountain bike (in a street race). I remember my first date with my wife involved me pulling up in a car whose hood was held down with duct tape. And as embarrassing and deeply flawed as all of this was, I didn’t let the flaws and mistakes keep me from reaching my goals.
3. Easy buttons exist. This is the greatest lie and the easiest to get you to believe.
All you need is a gold pan, some jeans and to head west in order to strike it rich…right?
That was the marketing narrative of the Gold Rush and the tactic is still used today.
The fairytale of the overnight success. The just add water and watch it grow concept are still present in our sophisticated digital society.
The notions that there are magical turnkey systems, you can buy and plug in to grow your business – no work required should sound absurd. This is the biggest lie that you are sold, and then subconsciously tell yourself. All of these promote the fantasy of easy efforts.
Any system that lies about the effort required to succeed probably doesn’t deliver on its value proposition in the first place. Good products don’t hide in these lies.
4. There is ONE thing, Only this ONE thing that holds you back…and when you address it, your problems will disappear.
The truth is there are probably many factors hindering your performance. Some bigger than others and some of equal priority. It often doesn’t matter which part of the boat you start bailing water from, just that you start bailing and fix the leak.
The belief that there is only one thing getting in between you and success is how marketers and salespeople focus your attention on their particular solution. This also primes you to commit your resources to an over-simplified solution. At the point where you read the famous line, you already believe you have the capacity to address that one thing, even though you have no earthly idea what’s entailed. That’s a stretch moment for a few, but for most, it’s a moment of overestimating capacity, and ultimate failure.
This phrasing appears in just about every self-help and business book out there. It’s part of the buildup to the big reveal of whatever idea or concept they are selling. This can be quite a toxic lie to believe in, as:
A) it creates a false sense of the work required by using the law of small numbers
B) once you address that one thing, you find out, there’s always one more thing or that next thing to address standing in between you and success.
Spoiler alert: When you succeed, at every finish line, you’ll find that your problems don’t go away. They just change and this is a blessing. You have different problems but the good news is, they are better problems to have.
You have different responsibilities with your new found capabilities and resources. It’s only natural. If you come into great riches, people come out of the woodwork in search of a share. If you build an empire, you will then have to protect it. For every problem you solve, a new challenge will take its place. The point is don’t curse problems, or trick yourself that life would be better without them. Instead wish for the means to solve them, and then wish for better problems.
5. You can Have Radical Transformation in 90 Days
Everyone seems to think that systemic problems can be cured in 90 days. 99% of the time, this is just another marketing gimmick. Just like with your personal health, 90 days is long enough to swap out some habits and make noticeable progress; but you’ll need to stick to them for 18 months to 2 years to get where you really want to grow. That’s the NO BULL rodeo.
Most people don’t have the stomach for the real effort required to win and this is why marketers lie and help others live in the fantasy world. Then they compete for who can tell a better lie, in an escalating arms race of overpromises, and no accountability. You can do things in a 90-day time frame. Radical transformations and six-pack abs aren’t going to be among them for most people. There are exceptions, that marketers don’t hesitate to portray as the norm, but in reality, they are unicorns.
Why do otherwise smart, established business owners keep falling for these?
The belief in easy buttons keeps you hopeful, high on the hopium pipe, sedated and happy to be shopping as it enables you to put off the hard, real work. Shopping is so much easier than facing the scary dragons, some known and others unknown inside your business. This is why everything you can buy is positioned to make your life easier and more turnkey – despite that most of it doesn’t work as advertised. Deep down, we want to believe that it’s true.
Sometimes the best way to actually solve a problem is to attack the primal, gritty, dirty work of it, the same way you attack the dishes on Thanksgiving. Rather than lying about the state of things, or dodging the task shopping for a new dishwasher, you roll up your sleeves, grab a sponge and start scrubbing. Before you know it, you create a little space in the sink to wash the dishes faster, and you find a flow and tempo, and it gets done.
Often times DTFW is the best growth hack, the most cost-efficient and time-saving solution. So ask yourself – what is the real work you’re avoiding? Consider attacking it head-on.