Taking the long view, and protecting yourself from gaslighting and burnout
Last week I talked about six “laws of fierce business.”
These aren’t laws in the sense of “I made this rule up and now you have to obey me,” but more like “when you drop things, they fall down, not up.”
So here are Laws 7-12 for you. If you watch for these and learn how to work with them, your projects will be more successful with fewer hassles.
#7: Don’t take shortcuts, they take too long.
There is no tool or technique you can use for an effortless, endless supply of customers, clients, traffic, or cash.
I originally wrote about this in the context of ranking in search engines, but it applies to all kinds of “hacks” and shortcuts that are being sold as magical solutions.
I mean, we already have the miracle tool. It’s called the Internet. It connects you to millions of potential customers. And the costs are incredibly low when you compare it with a brick-and-mortar business.
Smart people out there have developed good business tools and good revenue techniques. Sometimes those tools work incredibly well. Sometimes they quit working.
They’re never magic, and they never work all the time. There is no magical faucet that pours out money.
Tactics are good. But the super special magic ingredient is your time and attention, not another person’s tactic.
#8 Don’t let someone dumber than you talk you out of your good idea.
Your creativity and intelligence fundamentally threaten the status quo. Your success hurts their feelings.
I was trading corporate hell stories with a smart friend the other day, and she told me about a time when her supervisors literally told her not to say anything unless she was spoken to in a big meeting.
She ignored it, spoke up, and made an incredible impression on the client. (Because, ya know, she was actually really good at her job.)
If you’re smart, innovative, and creative, you probably have people trying to hold you down. In a corporate environment, they’ll gaslight you, minimize your contributions, and possibly even sabotage your projects.
And even as a freelancer or business owner, you’re running into people who will try to make you feel weak and small.
If there’s any aspect of your identity that is marginalized (you’re female, gay, trans, not white, etc.), you encounter this a lot.
It can be really easy to internalize this and think that maybe your ideas aren’t actually good, or that you aren’t the kind of person who can become successful.
A great support network is hugely helpful in protecting against this kind of toxic gaslighting. I’ll be talking more about some of my favorite options for that support in future issues …
#9: You aren’t good at everything (and you don’t have to be).
Autonomy doesn’t mean you do everything yourself. You can’t, no matter how talented or energetic you are.
I hear a lot of people say they could never run a business because there’s some component they aren’t good at.
I’ve had the good fortune to meet plenty of people who lead huge projects. And I’ve found that all of them have really important things they aren’t good at.
Sometimes you put some time in and you learn it. Sometimes you bring someone else in to help. And sometimes, you build a new structure that lets you avoid the part that isn’t great for you.
Whatever you’re good at, you can shape that into a way to build autonomy and revenue on your own terms.
Find the role you’re amazing at, and build around that.
#10: You’re gonna trade some hours for dollars.
Everyone who has any dollars has traded some hours for them, unless they’re living 100% on a trust fund.
The guru boys like to chide us not to “trade your hours for dollars.”
If you actually read The Four Hour Work Week, you might have noticed that Tim’s “four hours” was more like twenty to thirty — on an ideal week, for a business that had all the systems figured out.
What you do in the early stages of a project isn’t going to scale. And that’s appropriate.
First you experiment, then you polish, then you might be able to automate so that the effort scales.
Don’t feel like you’re off track because you’re putting some solid hours in. That’s part of the deal.
#11: But also: You are not a machine (and even if you were, you’d still need downtime).
Burnout doesn’t create great work.
” … we’ve come to believe that world-class performance comes after 10,000 hours of practice. But that’s wrong. It comes after 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, 12,500 hours of deliberate rest, and 30,000 hours of sleep.” – Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Rest
My culture glorifies hustle. The more we work, the better everything is supposed to get. (And yet, folks with three jobs don’t rule the world. Go figure.)
When Malcolm Gladwell wrote his book Outliers, popularizing the idea that it takes 10,000 hours to make someone “world class” at what they do, he ignored other key parts of the study he cited.
Work matters a lot. Particularly the kind of deliberate work that follows thinking and observation.
And rest matters a lot, too.
As Alex Soojung-Kim points out in his book Rest, looking at the same study Gladwell did, the best of the best also got more sleep, and spent consistent, sustained time on enjoyable leisure.
Do what you can to claim the space and support in order to rest, too. Science says so.
#12: Everything good comes from the audience.
For a content-driven business, all the good things come from the audience.
So make yourself useful.
Don’t make short-term decisions at the expense of the trust your audience has in you. (If cash flow is an issue — and in business, cash flow is always an issue — consider trading some hours for dollars in order to keep your accounts healthy.)
And I want to be super clear — I’m not the boss of you or your business. Your audience is.
So if your audience wants or needs something that contradicts everything I say, your audience is the boss. Listen to them first.
This applies to everything from what you sell, the software you use to run your business, the people who are on your team, and anything else you can think of.
A moment of bravery ?
Like everyone’s, my thoughts are very much with Ukraine this week. You probably saw this, but if you haven’t yet, this is an amazing example of courage. I can only imagine what it would be like to be this brave. Ukrainian woman tells Russian soldier …
Finally, a quick reminder: a discount code for you for CEX
If you’re planning to come see me (and, ok, lots of other great people) at the Creator Economy Expo in Phoenix in May, the nice organizers gave me a discount link to get you a better rate: Sonia’s discount link for CEX (you can also enter simone as a coupon code).
Hope to meet (or reconnect with) many of your there, and stay fierce!
If you’re looking for the first 6 laws, you can find them here: The 12 Laws of Fierce Business – Part 1