I have been struggling with writing a new blog post over the last couple weeks. I have had ideas.. I always have ideas.. but I’ve not been feeling the fire that I tend to get when I want to ramble on about a topic or idea. So I finally asked myself.. what’s holding me back? Why am I having such a hard time putting it together into something that I feel is worth sharing? And then it hit me. It was the exact thing I have talked about before. Fear. Fear of judgement. Fear about what I want to say. Fear that people will question my thoughts and opinions? Fear that people won’t like me anymore? Who am I to be an “expert” about anything? I have failed more times than I can count, and I definitely am not a high roller with stacks of cash and a huge house from some financial or business windfall. So who am I to give advice? And thats when I knew what I needed to write about.. fear of judgement and fear that success is based on the size of your bank account and the things you own. Because I have experienced success, both professionally and through pushing past the dark side of personal struggle.. all in my own way. A way that is unique to me. So here it is.. my latest ramble.
Create something to change people’s lives.. and give it away for free.
We all have ideas. I, for one, am an idea machine. But all too often, I get bogged down in mixing that idea with trying to build a business, and the idea quickly fizzles. Why? Over-complication. I love to create, and I enjoy the dynamics of business, and then I over-think ways to combine everything into one heaping pile of goulash. I might really like the idea, but I might not want to monetize it. More often than not, my ideas revolve around helping others, and I struggle with applying a dollar figure to helping someone make a positive change in their life. How often do you have a great idea only to get bogged down by thoughts of “how can I do this for a living and turn it into a successful business?” Let’s face it, the majority of us are guilty of driving around and looking at huge houses, or seeing someone driving a nice car and quickly thinking, “I wonder what they do for a living,” or “that must be nice to have,” immediately drawing a comparison to ourselves as if our lives don’t measure up in importance. But is it the material possessions we are truly jealous of, or the perceived freedom these expensive items seem to represent? “They’re probably loaded,” or “if I had that kind of money I would.. (finish this sentence with whatever enters your mind).” But really, what’s wrong with our own lives? Are we really struggling that bad and going without? Sure, most of us can’t buy everything we want, and stretching a tight budget even tighter sucks.. but if we look at things a little more abstract, don’t we have most everything we need? A roof over our heads.. clothes on our body.. family and friends who love us.. a mini handheld computer that we can do just about anything from.. a way to get from point A to point B even if it’s not in a BMW and point B isn’t a mansion in the hills? Besides, do we really need all that stuff anyway?? So, what is leaving us feeling so unfulfilled and incomplete?
We would all like to get paid for doing what we love. And with social media being covered with pictures of beautiful people playing on a white beach covered in palm trees, or a showing a mansion with a garage full of fancy cars, it can leave you feeling like you just don’t measure up. But what if we removed the money side of things.. how would this affect our creative process? What if we quit chasing dollars and instead focused on turning dreams into reality? Could you do it? Chances are with a little bit of effort and research, you could. Besides, isn’t this what these ad’s and pictures are really “selling.” Living your passion and creating your dreams? Its not the money. The glitz and shiny objects are just used to catch your attention. We’re just conditioned to look at things and ideas as ways to make us money. So what if we have all that money.. then what? Does it make us feel awesome and all our problems magically float away? Maybe temporarily, but they generally come right back, often in a new form. So if you have an idea and a passion, what would it look like if all that white noise was removed and you could start the process with minimal time and little to no financial investment? I chased the money. I had the job making a comfortable income, and I did it for years. In truth, the more I made, the worse it got. I was still stressed about money, but now I was also over-worked, short on time, and stuck where I never really wanted to be in the first place. I was chasing the money.. and I did it for years. I even went back after years away for a second go round thinking “it will be different this time,” and I was more miserable than the last time!! Why is that? Why do we go from wanting, to getting, only to wanting more? Its simple really.. we lose focus on what we already have, or what we really need. And its things we don’t need money to buy.
Time. The most valuable thing we have. You can have all the knowledge in the world, but if you don’t create the time to do something with it, its wasted. Think back to when you helped someone just because they needed it, not because you expected anything in return. How did it feel to have no expectation of payment? How did it feel when the person showed you their sincere gratitude for what you did to help them, no matter how small it might have seemed to you? And it cost nothing more than a little bit of time. Did they ask you specifically because they had no where else to turn and they knew you could be counted on? Or did they ask you because out of everyone they know, you have a certain skill set or understanding of what they were trying to do or get done and would ensure the best outcome? In most cases, it’s the latter. To them, you are the “expert.” So lets take that a step farther.. being an “expert.”
We all have things we’re good at.. things we devote our time and energy to that become a “specialty.” And whether its a skill set or a specific knowledge on a topic, most of us have more than one. While there are always other “experts,” there are also many non-experts that know less.. much less. What the other experts don’t have is your combination of experience that creates a unique perspective that might be slightly different, and potentially more effective than another in a given situation. So really, what is an expert? According to Merriam-Websters dictionary, an expert is “a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of, or skill in, a particular area.” With this definition, doesn’t that make someone with even a basic knowledge and understanding an “expert” in the eyes of those that know nothing at all? Consider these examples; Can you build a website? Can you fix a car? Do you know how to start and/ or run a business? Do you have management ability? Can you create and implement a process (this is a huge area of opportunity)? Or as an example of the basics, can you change a tire? If not, someone that has changed even ONE tire quickly becomes an expert. They don’t need to have Nascar pit crew experience to know the fundamental steps. They just need to know where to start and where to end. Suddenly, with that single tire change, to 1 in 4 americans, THEY ARE THE EXPERT!!
So how do you get better at a particular skill? Additional schooling? Reading books on the topic? Ok, you’ve done that.. then what? A component of learning is sharing that knowledge with others, allowing you to implement the skills you have spent your time building. There is nothing that says you must have a college degree or 20 years of experience at any particular area to be an “expert,” only that you have a “comprehensive and authoritative knowledge.” If your area of interest is also a passion and something you love to be involved in, wouldn’t it make sense to share it with other like-minded people interested in the same thing? Some people call this consulting and charge hefty sums for their wisdom and expertise. Others call it coaching and again charge for their services. But how do you think they got started? You have to prove you know what you’re talking about or people will be unwilling to pay for the services being offered. So again, lets keep it simple. What if we took all the business and money away and just gave the information away to those that wanted it.. for free. Call it creating proof of concept. Call it the building blocks to a brighter future. Call it whatever you want. I call it helping others create happiness. Will everyone listen and agree with your perspective and opinions? Definitely not. The 80/20 rule will most likely be hard at work here.. 80% of your effort will be for 20% of your audience. So focus hard on that 20%. If your message is sound and based on facts, a successful track record, and proves to be helpful.. it stands to reason that others will see the benefit of your help. The more you prove yourself, the more traction is gains (again, if the information and process proves to be sound). As the snowball of success starts to get bigger, more people will turn to you for help and guidance in the future, and before you know it you are in demand. But where does this lead? How do you do this and continue to put food in your face, and sweet threads on your back? Do you always have to give it all away for free? Nope. Thats where baby steps come into play, a plan, and a process. The more in demand you become, the more naturally you can transition from giving away this time for free, to creating a business model and charging a fair price for what has now become a successful endeavor of doing what you enjoy. Living your passion, so to speak. The heavens don’t suddenly part and a dream career falls directly into your lap. You have to work at it and build it naturally. And you have to give. Never stop giving. It might not be money, but give and you shall receive. That takes time. Just don’t give with strings attached. It’s ok to get something in return, but it can be more abstract than getting a thing, or money. You give your time, and you gain additional knowledge and skills of new and improved ways to help others. Because thats what its really all about.. sharing your keys to happiness and helping others achieve the same. If all you worry about is “what can I get out of this,” you’ll find yourself sorely unfulfilled. But if you fill your cup by giving, you not only end up with a greater sense of fulfillment, you also find that you learn other valuable skills along the way. You learn to not worry about how to squeeze a dollar out of everything. And you find that you do get in return. You get successful at giving. And you get to build something that makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning!
By taking money out of the equation you are no longer trying to get a customer, you are gaining friends and helping others build their dreams by sharing what you know. You’ve also simplified getting your ideas out because you no longer are focused on the stress of creating a full-fledged business right out of the gate, which can be a daunting challenge. Once you’ve proven your concepts and created a track record of success, you might even find it leads to another idea or opportunity that you didn’t see in the beginning! Possibly one that further supports the ideas that you gave away for free. Because what’s more important.. making a dollar off everything you do, or showing others how to positively change their lives?
So now the BIG question.. whats the first step??
Focus on your health. Physical health leads to mental health. Mental health leads to a clearer picture of how to actively achieve happiness. Happiness leads to a greater feeling of fulfillment. And a greater feeling of fulfillment leads to more positive interactions with others. It all creates a desire to do something. A desire to become the best you! Before you know it, your cup is filled with more than you ever wanted.. health, happiness, and direction. Who knows, you might end up needing a bigger cup!