Guest Post by Ad Otium
A New Year is about to turn and maybe this next one will define a turning point for you financially. Maybe now is the time to start that business or writing gig you’ve been thinking about. Maybe it is time to finally give it a go!
The good news is that there has never been a more direct way to get into people’s minds. In this pandemic we are now more connected than ever. The entrepreneur now has an unbroken bond to an otherwise captive audience, craving consumption from their living room. The bad news is that you are not the only one who sees this opportunity.
In a world where everyone has an opinion and a growing distrust of institutions, how can we stand out from the plethora of content creators, social commentators and paid advertising? The answer might be more straightforward than you think.
You have a secret weapon…
You are normal.
That’s right, on paper there’s probably nothing special about you. In fact, you are the person being targeted in marketing campaigns and being sold things you don’t need. This might seem glib, but this realisation is powerful. It helps shed the idea that there is some special attribute or divine spark that only successful people have. It also allows you to use your secret weapon to a devastating, authentic, effect.
So how can you take your first steps? It’s a cliché, but it’s firstly all about connection.
You might have heard that to make a successful business you need to solve a problem. This is true, but you cannot persuade people to listen to you if you don’t have an audience. The internet has almost made it too easy to connect with other people. And therein lies the problem. Social media (which is the perfect environment for sharing ideas) is now full to the brim with either advertisements or meaningless platitudes. You can do better.
We all crave to connect with like-minded people. But how will people know you are like-minded, unless we speak in familiar and authentic tones? We don’t have to have original ideas, but only translate great thoughts onto paper and make them actionable. We have to be sparing, direct and balanced all at the same time.
The Age of Mutual Self-Actualisation
Acceptance and perspective are the first steps to thinking about problems. But there are two more things that set you apart from normality, which are intrinsically linked: your desire and your ability to overcome challenges with personal agency.
Our success is defined by how well we meet the problem. Whether it’s becoming a UX designer, a car mechanic or a master orator.
We have become accustomed to daily success stories. The internet now delivers you the pinnacle of human achievement without leaving your bed. But if we never leave our domain of comfort, it can never rub off on us.
What the internet provides is boundless opportunity to learn. We can instantly connect to millions of thoughts, all asking questions and sharing answers. In a realm where learning is unlimited and everyone seems to know about everything, it is difficult to stand out. But the bar isn’t as high as you think.
With the collective knowledge of billions of people, you can sell almost anything you want, but it needs to be well-defined and actionable. And it needs to come from an authentic and trusted source – without it you are doomed to be relegated to the underworld of clickbait.
Normal people have always had dreams but until now, never a way to execute. Self-limiting beliefs are now an insurance policy for the unconnected.
What do You Really Want to Achieve?
Money has always been heavily competed for. Almost everyone wants more of it, but few take the time to actually think why. How is your desire for money masking what you really want? Is it success, influence, time?
This second-order thinking represents your problem. Chisel away at it until it starts to look more recognisable. Next: on a scale of one to 10, what level of mastery do you want to achieve? On the success scale, 10 might be world domination. I humbly suggest dialling it back.
Interestingly, under cross-examination our aspirations tend not to pass muster. We are very good at saying what we don’t want. We all naturally have a limit, and this can create a starting point. Some examples of dialled back dream-thinking and the questions around limits it can lead to:
- “I want to be successful, but I wouldn’t want the Prime Minister’s / CEO / Leader’s job”
- Q) What level of success do you want and what are you willing to do to get there?
- “I want a big house, but I don’t want one that’s too big, it must be difficult to maintain”.
- Q) What level of comfort would you actually be happy with?
- Q) Do you need a way to avoid feeling overwhelmed?
- I’d like a healthier body, but don’t want to be too muscle-bound.
- Q) Is this more a question of function?
- I want to be famous, but I don’t want the public knowing so much about my life.
- Q) What is the definition of fame that you aspire to?
- “I’d love to win the lottery, but I wouldn’t want to win too much.
Okay, I can’t help you with the last one. The point is that uncovering what you really want might help reframe the problem and help develop your authentic voice.
How much you want it will only take you so far. Very few people succeed in life by just looking at motivational posters. There comes a time when you have to actually design and implement something.
Imagine an Engineering Solution
In successful projects there is an equilibrium between imagining (i.e. being creative) and planning. But these factors are often not mutually beneficial. We all know people who plan and design all day, but never actually execute. And we all know people who blaze a trail without ever realising they are lost.
Decrepit models plague the engineering industry. Things that work, but no-one knows why. An operating manual is all we are left with. We have outsourced our design, testing and critical thinking to professional agencies or computers. We are keeping things going and not breaking new ground.
But true engineering is problem solving at it’s core. It’s taking a real-world problem and designing a solution that fits. It’s about bringing to fruition something that helps others.
There is a Table Set for You
One thing that I’ve realised is that people are far more likely to help you than hurt you. The internet is a great leveller, and you are almost universally welcomed to bring your ideas, problems and thoughts forward.
In a world where physical contact is restricted, there is still a table set for you, but it is in your own home. This pandemic has led to isolation and loneliness and technology has stepped up to meet the challenge. People are looking more than ever for trusted, authentic information. And behind the hive mind are a group of individuals who are collectively aiming to help build each other up.
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Embrace the new found “Countertop Freedom”, our new normal, for yourself!
Unlock your freedom and a very Happy New Year to You!!!