Isn’t it funny how we’re almost completely blind to ourselves?
We have this narrow-band view on who we are and what we stand for and so on…
But there’s a lot more to you… good things and bad things.
Problem is, we tend to so be hyper-focused on what we do see, that we never get to noticing the rest.
That example from yesterday is a nice one: I saw myself as someone who is putting things out there, building my success one step at a time… and it blinded me to the fact that I’ve been avoiding things and essentially been playing small.
Which is why I’m really happy that I spent a lot of hard-earned cash on just one conversation with someone who showed me a side of myself that badly needed being seen.
And yes, I’ll do it again. Because I’ve found that each time I invest in myself, it pays off.
Over the years, I’ve spent thousands on working with coaches and trainers, and things always got better as a result.
Is it because those people are such geniuses?
No. It’s because I realised that on my own, I wouldn’t be able to get beyond where I had arrived.
And so I invested, and bam: progress. Insight. Change. Every time.
I can’t tell you that I’m the right guy to help you, but I’ll tell you this:
Investing in yourself is worth it. Whether it’s by hiring someone or by reserving time each day to study: we all need to invest in ourselves.
Just make sure you choose the right person do to it with.
Last week I had a consult with Peter Shallard, the shrink for entrepreneurs.
And I almost wish I hadn’t.
Because what I learned rocked my world, and not in an uplifting way.
No, what I learned was harsh. I got to have a cold hard look at reality.
A reality in which I play it safe. Play small.
Which is ludicrous, because here’s the guy always talking about big ambitions… who has to face the fact that he himself actually doesn’t have a big ambition.
I thought I did, but that was a story I told myself.
A story in which I would rise to high levels of personal and professional success… but without enough of the actions that make that success real.
And I discovered why it’s been like that. Which was another insight that wasn’t pretty.
Here’s the deal: I’ve basically been holding back, because so long as I don’t give it my all, there’s no risk of failure.
After all, if I don’t play all out, there’s always tomorrow. Always the hope and chance that one day I’ll make it.
But if I do play all out, and if it turns out that it didn’t work… then that would mean that I’ve failed. And apparently, my subconscious refuses to let that happen.
Just like that person who is always ‘working on my novel’ but never ever finishing it, because at that moment it might turn out to be a flop. And we can’t let that happen, can we.
Yes folks: while I preach ambition and action to anyone who’ll listen, I’ve been confounding myself completely, totally blind to the fact that I fell for one of the biggest traps in the life of a creative professional: playing small so as to avoid the risk of failure. And I didn’t even see it.
And what do we do when we discover we’ve been playing small?
That’s right: we step up our game.
I’ve no idea what that will look like, but I do know that I want to be challenged. Because playing small is not my style.
What about you?
Any areas in business or life where – unbeknownst to you – you’ve been playing small, when that’s actually not what you want?
All the things that frustrate you, that you endure, the things that ought to be different but aren’t…
All that and everything else that doesn’t do anything to uplift your mood or your state…
What if none of that mattered?
Would be nice, wouldn’t it?
To just have things be as they are, without any negative experience connected, whatsoever.
No, I’m not talking about some mythical blissed-out state of utter detachment.
What I’m talking about is the one thing that you can change, to a) suffer much less from the negatives in life and b) be far more able, focussed, and energised to change the things that really matter.
Because once you have one gripe, you’ll quickly have a million, and very likely you’ll be so occupied being bothered by them, that you won’t have the energy or the clarity to really make changes in those things that have to change.
I’m not advocating acceptance and then nothing. I’m advocating acceptance as a starting point.
And what is that one thing that you can change?
For that, ask yourself: what is it that makes those things into negatives?
Is it something to do with the things themselves?
No matter how negative something might be objectively, it’s always only our own view on them that makes us experience them as negative.
And our view on things is something we can always change – but only if we want to, and dare to.
There’s nothing outside of you that makes an experience negative. It’s all in how you choose to see things.
And once you shift your view from ‘not want that’ to ‘I accept that it’s there’, you’re stop wasting your energy on maintaining a negative state of experience, and you can put that energy into actually changing the thing that triggers that experience.
What if building a business wouldn’t have to be a struggle… but a joyful process of discovery instead?
Where you play with moving parts, see how they fit together – what if you would play at building a system, instead of slogging through all those things you don’t enjoy doing?
What if you would make that process the goal, instead of whatever end-game spells success for you?
Because most all of us get stuck into doing the work that should bring us that coveted success-reward, thinking that if we work hard enough and long enough at those things we don’t enjoy, the reward will be worth all the effort and teeth-gritting.
But what if it doesn’t have to be that way?
What if you would only do those things that you enjoy and that you’re really good at?
And all those other things – what if you would delegate them, or replace them by other actions that are more fun, and that get you the same result?
Would be a whole different world, right?
So, what if that world could start today?
Because the notion that XYZ is required no matter how much you loathe it – that’s just a story you tell yourself.
Because everyone else says you should be on Instagram, does that mean you should too even if you don’t like it there?
Nah. Instagram is just a method to get a result: views and website traffic. And you can get those results in many different ways.
Martin says daily emails are good for business, but you don’t like the idea… does that mean you should do it anyway? Of course not. There’s many different ways to create relationships with your potential buyers.
If you want eggs for breakfast, you get to choose how you want ‘em: poached, fried, scrambled, and so on.
When you want a result and the default method to get it makes you cringe, ask yourself:
How else can I get the same result? In a way that would be fun?
Start this type of inquiry today, take action on the answers that come up, and there you have it: instant reduction of struggle and frustration.
And if you need help figuring out what other methods would work better for you?
The other day I called my (ex) abbot, with a question about psychology.
Turned into an interesting conversation, especially when it come to the moment where he said that people don’t change. That it’s fundamentally impossible to change.
I wanted to protest, because I believe in change.
Coaching people to create change is what I do, for crying out loud!
And I see people change all the time.
Especially since I started coaching a few years ago – some of the people I work with, I see them go through enormous, deep, lasting changes.
But speaking with my abbot, I had to agree. I gained an insight: We don’t change.
You can never change. Neither can I.
You as a person, with your mind, and emotions, values and aspirations, your subconscious and your fears – that whole totality of you, which is bigger than you imagine – is what it is. That’s you, and it doesn’t change. There may be shifts and movements, but what you are as a human being is fixed. It’s what being human is.
This might be hard to accept, but follow along with the psychology here. It’s a helpful view, as you’ll see.
Because when you stop thinking that something in you needs to change, you take the pressure off.
You no longer make yourself wrong for being who and how you are.
And you need that easing up in order to create change.
Because change does exist, just not in what we fundamentally are.
What then changes?
When we gain insight – when things come into sight – about who we are and how we think and so on – our perception changes.
When there’s insight, and you see more, you now have a new, modified experience, modified in whatever big or subtle way.
And when your experience changes, so do your emotions, your thoughts, your decisions, and yes, your world.
Because the way you perceive – your particular brand of making sense of reality – determines the world you live in. In that sense, reality is malleable.
And it’s worth your time to do the work that allows you to change your reality. Or rather: your perception.
The good news?
You don’t need to change. Just be as you are, you’re fine.
There, doesn’t that feel more relaxed?
Good, now for the next step:
Ask yourself, always ask yourself: what else? what more does this mean? What else is it, that I’m witnessing here?
What insight would I like to add to my form of experience?
In other words, my favourite question: what am I missing?
If your goal is to grow your business revenue by, say, 30%…
What would you do?
What would you tackle first?
Most people would pick one thing and then work hard to try and drive results up.
You could try to create more customers out of your email subscribers, or you could try to get more traffic to your website, or invest more time in social media…
But for any of those elements to cause 30% growth in your bottom line, that’s a tall order.
After all, any one element you pick to work on is only a smaller part of the total system that is your business.
So here’s another model to consider.
It’s based on the assets that your business has, and how you can improve the usefulness of those assets, in small increments that add up.
Any business will have these three elements:
1: Potential customers
If you manage to get seen and considered by more people, your sales and revenue will go up.
But instead of going for 30% increase of prospects, let’s try to raise the number by just 10%.
That doesn’t sound so crazy, right? 10% is doable.
2: Conversion ratio
This is the number of people who do business with you, divided by the number of people who find out about your product or service.
Example: if you have 200 website visitors a day and 10 people buy from you, that’s 10 divided by 200, which gives you a conversion ratio of 0.05, or 5%.
And getting your numbers up from 10 to 11… that shouldn’t be too hard to do. That’s only 10%.
3: Customer value
We all know that it’s cheaper to acquire a repeat sale from an existing customer, than it is to create a new one.
So, if your average customer currently spends $100, can you find a way to offer something else, and bring the total amount they spend with you up to $110?
Has to be a way to do that, don’t you think?
Maybe even as simple as – hey, novel thought! – raising your prices (I’m making assumptions here, but given the number of people I meet who charge too little, that might be you as well). And raising your rates by 10% shouldn’t be a problem, right?
The logic behind this thinking – that if you raise each of these three by just 10%, your total increase in turnover is 10% times 3, in other words: 30% – you can work on incremental growth across three primary areas, instead of trying to fix and improve one single element.
And further logic:
When we set out to create impressive changes and growth and we want it all to come from one area, we’re essentially hoping for a unicorn to show up.
You know, that magical, fix-it-all solution, the one thing that will make all the difference.
But there is no one thing that will fix everything. Growth comes from persistent improvement across a number of areas – not from some magical solution or miraculous turnaround.
Lust like unicorns don’t exist, neither do magical solutions. You’ll never have a breakthrough just because the universe thinks you’re such a nice guy or gal.
No, breakthroughs and increased results and growth come from strategic action, in the right areas, coupled with grit and the willingness to iterate and optimise until stuff works.
And I promise that will work much better than hoping for magic to fix your economy or business or sales.
Work the three areas mentioned, and try to get a 10% rise in each. There’s growth, guaranteed.
Just ask any friend, client or relative how they see you, and I’m positive that they’ll mention traits that you think you have, or omit bits that you thoughts are good or bad about you.
Just a fact of life: there’s a difference between how you on the inside see yourself, and how you are being perceived by others on the outside.
This matters, because in the self-view that you have, there are opinions and beliefs about yourself that hold you back. Can be in a big obstruction way, leading to self-sabotage and so on, or it can be in more subtle ways, causing you to not play as big as you could.
And I believe that literally everyone on earth could be playing a bigger game than they are, no matter how famous or successful or fulfilled they currently are.
So if you’d like to up your game, achieve more, create more, it’s important that you don’t let your self-image be the reason you don’t.
But you can’t simply change the way you think about yourself and expect to miraculously become someone you don’t believe you are. Because the problem with self-image is that it exists on the level of beliefs, and thoughts don’t have much impact on beliefs, as I’m sure you’ll have noticed in life.
So the solution?
Simple. A practice of ‘act as if’.
Which is vastly different from ‘fake it till you make it’. I wouldn’t recommend anyone fake anything, ever.
Act as if is much more fun, honest, and useful.
Act as if means you decide on who or how you’d like to be, and then you decide to act as if you are already that person.
You play the game of behaving in the way that person would (or will) behave.
So for example: if you don’t yet believe that you are able to stick to a diet, ask yourself:
How would the version of me that CAN keep a diet behave?
How would that me think? What choices would that me make? Would that me even buy soda or processed food? Would the me that sticks to the diet give in to urges and cravings?
Next, start experimenting with those behaviours. Play with it, make it a game to see what it’s like to act that way.
You’ll find that that it’s not all that hard to act that way part of the time.
Sure, that doesn’t remove the problem itself in an instant, but it WILL show you that – sonofagun! – you actually CAN act that way!
Even if it’s only some of the times, even if it’s only in small ways… you are now living the experience of behaving the way you’d like to.
And that’s a powerful start to creating the change you desire. It becomes the carrot to your donkey, and if you keep up that practice, you will over time (and faster than you might expect) find that it becomes natural to act that way.
And bit by bit, you’ll change, and turn into the person that you’d like to be – regardless of whether or not you believe you can.
It’s easy to say that nothing of what we perceive is actually what we think it is. Whether this is thoughts, people, invisible waves, the planet and consciousness… we just have no idea what *exactly* a thing is.
All we have is our perception – our own interpretation, our filter.
Our perception of something that is known to be incomprehensibly more vast and complex than the tiny, minute little bit that fits into our human perception.
In other words: we know pretty much nothing, compared to the totality of all there is. We just have experience, one for every human being. And only of a tiny slice of reality.
And yes, one can justifiably mention quantum physics, and proceed to say something that seems to make sense in this context, but has in fact no actual relation to what quantum physics really is.
And I’m one of the 99.999999999% of people who don’t understand what the thing is, so I won’t go there.
Nor will I go into the area of spirituality, because in the end, the only thing that really interests me is the human psyche.
Spirituality is, in our human experience, simply a particular approach to dealing with self, other, world and psyche.
It’s your psyche and the way the thing is configured, that determines how exactly you experience.
There is no objective experience (leaving aside questions of consensus reality) because there is only individual experience.
Filtered, by your brain. And we can’t not filter. It’s what we do, otherwise we wouldn’t even have an experience.
Your experience yourself is the filter.
You might have noticed in the last few weeks that some of my emails have been a little different.
Inbetween the more practical things like planning or sales or business things and psychology, I’ve also been getting more into questions of the heart. Or Heart, as the Sufis would say.
The reason for that is a series of conversations I’ve had with a coach in the USA. Conversations that had a profound impact on me.
Conversations that caused a shift in me, and led me to see that while business and art and coaching and writing are all very good, but that the only thing – the one thing – that ultimately matters, is Love.
And nope, I’m not going into what Love is because, well… back to the top: whatever we think something is, is not what it is.
But Love (the big one – not human emotional love) can be experienced, which in the last few weeks I’ve been blessed to.
This has a lot to do with listening to my heart. Which is an amazing thing, once you truly get out of your head and really really listen. On the inside, and not to the mind.
This morning, I hired that coach. Sent him the money, brought him into my life.
Which should make for an interesting 2018.
And it will likely affect the nature of these emails.
Don’t worry, I’ll still be Martin the coach, with practical tips on how to think, and plan, and choose and sell and run a business and all that fun stuff.
But I’m also going to give space to Martin the (ex-) monk.
Because learning how to think and how you tick, that’s all useful and necessary. But it’s of the mind, and it should go together with learning to listen to heart, and exploring what happens when you do.
Hint: you’ll experience with a different, MUCH less coloured filter. ‘sFun.
And that’s what I’ll be doing, jumping in headlong.