Articles about Complete Elephant
In 279 Days to Overnight Success, Chris Guillebeau calls them “vampires.” In The War of Art and Do the Work, Steven Pressfield calls them “the Resistance.” When I released Melting Chocolate Kettles back in 2010, I borrowed one of J.K. Rowling’s nastier creations from the Harry Potter series to describe them: Dementors.
Dementors destroy, negate, scourge. They suck out people’s souls—literally.
Are critics so different?
Most of the critics I have met were frustrated artists: the choir director who couldn’t hack it as an opera singer; the arrogant fiction writer who never had anything positive to say about other people’s writing; the businessman from D.C. who shot down every marketing idea without proposing a better one.
Critics come in various shapes and sizes.
At different times in our lives, they have different titles. They may be parents, teachers, coaches, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, strangers, colleagues, co-workers, bosses, and business partners.
They know the right way to do anything.
They interrupt you while you’re speaking.
They harumph and snort and sigh when you disagree with them.
They’re fond of the words “idiot” and “ridiculous."
They hold you to a higher standard than they hold themselves.
They usually haven’t accomplished the things they try to dissuade you from doing.
They give unsolicited advice before asking questions.
Perhaps the most difficult part of bypassing critics is recognizing that they are often people we love. In early 2011 I was training for a marathon, and my wife and I were in Nashville for a weekend, visiting my family. I had a sixteen miler on Sunday morning, and the night before, we were sitting around talking about this and that when my dad made this remark:
“Churches aren’t runners.”
My dad is a good man, for whom I have a great deal of respect. We are close. But that isn’t the thing to say when your son has already injured himself twice training for marathons and he is waking up to a long run and the prospect of getting hurt again.
The good news is that I ignored him, finished the run, uninjured, in record time, and said to my dad with some “feeling” on Sunday night: “Clearly Churches are runners if we want to be.”
But the story isn’t over yet. The day of the marathon, my wife Megan and my parents popped up at random places along the course to cheer me on. They met me at the finish line, and my mom said, “That was fun! You should run another one.”
The only way to prove to your critics what is possible is to go do that thing: plan an around-the-world trip. Start a new business. Quit your job.
Run your toes bloody.
I’m not saying that people’s words won’t hurt. You’ll feel angry, confused, and sad all at once. You’ll want to rage with elaborate arguments justifying your dream or chosen course of action. You’ll want to defend your integrity and your intelligence.
Don’t waste your breath. You’ll just come across as defensive and impetuous. After all, you can’t describe ice to a jungle dweller. If you take big risks, then you’re working from a totally different frame of reference than people trying to minimize risk while maximizing comfort and safety. Their paradigm frames you as a lunatic, a charlatan, or a dimwit.
Most of Einstein’s teachers interpreted his boredom in class as laziness, and thought he would never amount to anything. Einstein had this to say: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Might I recommend the latter?
History forgets critics. You should forget them too. History remembers innovators. Join some miracles.
“If a man knows not what harbor he seeks, any wind is the right wind.”
~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca
When we polled Kicktastic members awhile back, a good number of them confided that they needed help deciding what to do next.
Sometimes success can lead to inertia: “If it's not broken, why fix it?” Sometimes failure can paralyze us: “Remember what happened last time? We can't take afford another big loss like that."
So we wait. We hedge our bets. We strategize.
And the Christmas lights strung up in the rooms of our hearts go out, strand by strand.
If you've ever been at a loss as to how to meet your goals, then maybe you can learn a thing or two from Darren Rowse of Problogger.
Darren and his wife had just welcomed their first child into the world.
Those of you who have children of your own will remember being jarred awake by those impossibly loud cries. You remember trying to comfort your child through gritted teeth, stumbling around bleary-eyed while mixing a bottle of formula, and waking up in the morning already bone-tired and out of patience.
Darren managed several popular blogs, and many of his loyal readers had been asking for him to write a short ebook. He had a hungry crowd, and he had a baby. Could he give both what they wanted?
In those early months, making the time for creative pursuits meant getting even less sleep. Darren had every excuse to not write the ebook, but he decided to start anyway and give just 15 minutes a day to writing.
I've had the privilege of going to several thought-provoking conferences this year: ConvergeSE in Columbia, South Carolina; Trey Smith's App Elite 2 in San Diego; Southland Summit in Nashville, Tennessee; and World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon.
Going to conferences creates whitespace. I can take a step back from client work, app development, and other business pursuits and take stock of how I'm spending my time.
What is my Big Why? What is my definition of success? What do I want?
Yes, I enjoy the exposure to new people, new ideas, and new opportunities, but I also need a chance every once in awhile to take a deep breath, to recalibrate my many projects, and to realign my day-to-day activities with long-term goals.
But any creative professional and entrepreneur with technology- or internet-based businesses runs the risk of missing the forest for the trees. Inspirational speakers stir our imaginations and remind us of our dreams. "Follow your heart," they say. Or, "do what you love." Or, "turn your passion into a seven-figure business.”
"Work" morphs into a synonym for self-actualization, and those of us who live in the U.S. and other wealthy countries quickly lose sight of the hard reality faced by most of the world's workers:
Bringing your heart to work is a luxury.
Today I'm in Portland, Oregon, at the World Domination Summit 2013, and I've got good time management on my mind. Darren Rowse gave the second keynote this morning, and he posed a simple yet profound question:
"What do you want your future to look like?"
The question really pertains to the present because the future doesn't yet exist. I don't think Darren will mind if I qualify his question with two of my own:
What in the present will keep your desired future at bay?
What changes can you make to welcome your desired future?
You'll find that making changes in the present usually involves changing how you budget your time.
Let it be known that I dislike email.
Deleting emails gives me the same grim pleasure that I feel when using a weedeater to rip through the juicy stalks of weeds. I'd rather be doing something else with my time, but if I must, then I'm going to make those weeds (and emails) pay for it.
Whether I like it or not, email is here to stay, along with self-employment tax and Pigeon Forge. I choose to make the best of it, and to that end, I've captured in this blog post a few of the tricks that I use to grind down my inbox as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Enjoy. Or don't. Just get better at email.
My friend Drew asked me for some productivity tips the other day.
I don't consider myself an expert on the subject, and I certainly waste my share of time. In fact, I believe that not being productive all the time is important for our emotional and spiritual help.
But Drew's request did give me a good excuse to gather my thoughts. Let's dive in.
I recently wrote a post about three crucial shifts in perspective that prepared me for success. They're important for changing the way you see yourself, your work, and your role with clients.
But they're not enough.
You also have to exercise certain habits, and before you can do that, you must first believe that your personality is plastic, malleable, changeable.
If you believe that people don't change, well, Buster, don't waste any more time reading this post. You'll be better off stockpiling weapons, canned beans, and gasoline for the Zombie Apocalypse.
For the rest of you who are more hopeful, know this: not only do I believe that people can change, I believe that we must change. Otherwise, we will never develop the pluck and emotional intelligence to stop letting fear and an addiction to comfort (which is really just fear of scarcity) make our decisions for us.
When you run your own business, you have ample opportunity to feel anxious: what if you don't get the project, what if the client is disappointed in the work, what if you can't pay your bills.
All those "What If's" can do a number on one's enthusiasm and productivity. Anxiety causes you to waste time and energy dreading things that may never happen. Anxiety is the adult version of seeing a boogeyman in the closet and monsters under the bed. So you sit there and tremble and wait for the worst.
Anxiety is the antithesis of productivity, yet once it has a grip on you, it's hard to shake off. What do you do?
When I stop to ponder why my income has grown significantly over the last four years, I can identify three crucial shifts in my perspective that helped me find success in business.
Your perspective on yourself, your work, and the role that you serve with clients can either leave you stranded in the realm of struggling freelancers or convey you to the magical orchard of money trees. (It really exists...)
I still hear other friends who work in the creative industry say things like, "Well, that's just the way freelancing goes."
Yes, the feast-or-famine roller coaster is the way freelancing goes. So why not try something different and expect different results?
How well do you finish projects?
Many of the moments worth creating for your clients come at the very end of a project. You throw in a surprise for free. You create a few extra designs to leave them smiling. You put in a couple of extra hours to make sure that the new website, marketing collateral, or logo gets that special coat of polish.
People remember the last 2%.
When you stop to think about ways to grow your businesses and increase profits, you probably think first about how to get new clients. I propose an easier path.
Over the last four years, most of the growth in my business has come from selling to the clients I already have! I don't have to go from cold to sold because I've already established trust. I know their brands. I know their cultures. I know their communication style (for better or for worse).
And the devil you know is better than the devil you don't. Here are two tips to help you sell more to your current and past clients.
This week's money making idea isn't mine, and it also doesn't come from Nate's or Jon's impressive brain. They heard this idea at LessConf back in April from a guy who works for a large DNS management company. He told them that he writes long, personal, and goofy emails to prospective clients.
"But people don't read long emails," you might be thinking.
"And people don't like to be stalked online."
"And you have to be uber-professional when you're reaching out to high-dollar clients. Being funny can only get you so far."
Until I heard the DNS guy's stories, I would have agreed with you. The email equivalent of a cold call would seem like a long-shot.
Yet the guy had landed huge contracts this way.
Courting clients works!
And the more I delved into the concept, the more punch-me-in-the-face obvious it became.
Last week, I shared one of my best money making ideas: stop the bleeding. Stop wasting money. As sound as that advice may be, it's nothing more than a Band-Aid. So let's move on to Lesson #2: Know your key business ratios.
Guys in fancy suits and silk ties love to talk about their "profit margins." You've probably heard the term and winced. You'd just as soon eat glass as have a conversation about profit margins.
At the end of 2012, we sent out a survey to Kicktastic members, and quite a few folks said that they wanted to learn our best money making ideas and how to profitable each and every month.
The gauntlet was laid.
So let's get to the Lesson #1: Stop the bleeding.