To our clients & customers & friends & fans:
I’d like to invite you to settle in and listen close. I have a few things I’d like to drip into your brain.
1. This is New and Different. Still.
You’re likely juggling your attention at a peculiar rate at this time. From screen watching to screen-talking to the dread of poor health to wiping down groceries to caring for loved ones through phone calls or playing games online instead of physically hanging out.
You’re likely finding new forms for engagement and escape and purpose. The human brain has well over 100 trillion synapses built from connections made over the course of your life and none of them have been made in a global pandemic.
If you’ve ever mastered anything, you remember the awkwardness of beginning. Getting started felt clunky and disjointed but then as you got into a groove, you started to feel capable. It isn’t until lots of repetitions that we move from “capable” to “mastery.”
There’s a very small possibility that you’ve “mastered” this moment yet. Don’t mistake “getting used to something” to “mastering.”
Continue to work to improve and grow and evolve. Give yourself grace for not hitting every beat.
2. Have You Learned Not To Copy Others Yet?
There have been enough businesses featured or business owners on panels or op-ed pieces that have proven to be unstable. Marketing campaigns, press outreach, and well-worded positioning can make us believe that they must know what they’re doing.
Airlines, retailers, restaurant chains, hotels and others are being exposed for having fragile finances. They didn’t have a lot sitting in the books and it now shows.
Entrepreneurs who used to peacock on social media are at home sitting on their hands while others are so busy providing relief and connection they aren’t finding the time to post anything.
The reality of your (or any) business is not publicly available on the internet.
Listening to what your industry or competitors are doing on Instagram does nothing for you. The odds that it helps you are far outweighed by the risk of paying attention to the wrong things or being misguided.
3. Do something that matters.
The current moment in history has exposed what matters and what doesn’t.
There are a boatload of ways to earn an income. You can deliver food to those in need or paint the roses to be red for those with wealth. You can do things in-person, online, or both. Sell at scale or sell limited quantities in an artisan, hand-crafted manner. Work for yourself, or someone else.
I have zero moral qualms with what you choose to do with work, all that I ask is that you take an honest, long, serious look at yourself in the mirror and ask “Am I proud of what I’m doing?”
You don’t need to pass anyone else’s purity test on your motives or answer to a crowd that likes to point fingers at those who fail, but I do think you need to check yourself. “Can’t tell me nothing” is a useful mantra to help mitigate temptations to fall into a comparison trap, but if you can’t even live up to your own scrutiny, then you’ve got bigger problems.
4. Certainty is a Lie
As entrepreneurs, you may have grown accustomed to how your business was running. As an artist, you may have grown accustomed to how people responded to your work. We’re creatures of habit.
Good art isn’t routine. Good entrepreneurs aren’t those that don’t face risk. And good creatures have sense to change their habits.
No need to take work, customers, income, health, or creative opportunities for granted.
5. Clutter is Taxing
Minimalism, essentialism, fasting, trimming overhead, unsubscribing, unfollowing, reducing, and cleaning out our lives is natural.
Amidst an important societal and global issue, we’re learning that more stuff doesn’t equate to better engagement. A near infinite amount of marketing is nudging you to buy something, grow frustrated, change your behaviors, and switch brands.
Our minds process all sorts of information. One cannot scroll through the news or spend 15 minutes on Twitter without consequence. The content we read, watch, listen to, and hear about sits in our minds.
Please “detox” mentally. Process your thoughts/feelings/emotions with a therapist. Journal. Donate to those who need it. Unsubscribe from email newsletters. Say “no” to some zoom meetings.
Clutter creeps in and removes presence, focus, and engagement from the most important things. Ruthlessly prioritize. You can always – and should – reprioritize often.
6. You Are Not A Machine
A machine is built to do as it’s programmed. You’re not programmed. You have a brain. The human brain is infinitely more complicated than any other known entity and until roughly 30 years ago, scientists hadn’t even studied a “healthy” brain up close. Your brain may as well be a universe or some unexplored deep crevice of the ocean. We know some truths to how it works, but as far as your particular brain, your guess is as good as anyones.
A machine does as expected each and every time. You press a button, it turns on. You press a button, it turns off. Over and over and over and over and over and over. You don’t do that. Living things evolve and adapt. They grow bored or unengaged or passive. Animals in cages lose whatever it is that makes them “wild.” Plants in homes can grow weak without exposure to wind or resistance. You are – fundamentally – wild.
What do you want to do now?
Since mid-March, I’ve spoken very candidly with clients and customers and soulful business builders and artists. The 6 things mentioned here have been re-iterated repeatedly to many of those folks and now I’m sharing them with you.