“Don’t follow leaders, watch the pawking meters…” (Bob Dylan)
Do you like change?
You know that most folks hate and fear change, right? It’s all so unpredictably messy, and rudely forces you out of your comfort zone.
Bleah. Yuck. Keep it away.
Well, guess what? Successful entrepreneurs love change.
More specifically, they love the opportunity to alter the way things are… both within their market, and in their lifestyles.
If you’re limping along on anemic sales, and suddenly a new tactic or project jacks response through the roof… that’s a good change.
If you roll out a hot, fresh campaign (aimed at demolishing competition and hoarding all the market share to yourself), and it bombs… that’s a bad change.
However, you can’t enjoy the first without risking the second. Which kinda defines entrepreneurship in a nutshell: You do something, there’s a reaction, and you deal with the gains or losses.
Maintaining the status quo is never a valid option in biz. You keep moving and adjusting, like a parade negotiating twisting streets and weather changes.
You set up camp and settle in, though, and you’re like the Donner Party. I’ve seen many businesses eat themselves alive, trying to avoid change.
There is stress inherent in both situations. When you resist change, the anxiety and internal turmoil builds and festers. When you engage with change, you are constantly flushing out the bad ju-ju, keeping your system in good working order.
It’s kinda like early dating. I viscerally remember staring at the phone with Susie Q’s number in my hand, completely freaked-out over the looming possibilities. Still, it was better to dial her up, mumble and fumble the conversation and face the consequences…
… than to walk away and pretend this trial-by-hormone-fire wasn’t something I had to deal with.
And I did both, over the course of a lifetime. Engaged, avoided, sort-of-engaged, and sort-of-avoided situations loaded with consequence. You win some, you lose more, you get a lot of ties. (You can take this metaphor of dating-to-biz a long way, too. I, for example, successfully asked some very attractive women out… and had epic horror-story dates. And, my courage failed on other attempts to pick up the phone, and I later discovered — like, at the 10th reunion of my graduating class — that a truly sordid, amazing adventure in sure-thing sex had been missed.)
(That’s easily the greatest danger in going to your reunions, you know. Susie Q walks up, gives you that upside-down pity smile, and asks why you never called her, because if you had, well, OMG she would have so jumped your bones and…
… well, it’s too late now, of course, but jeez, you shoulda called…)
Becoming an entrepreneur initiates an alarming increase in the number of decisions you must make in life. Where your buddies, who are working in a regular J-O-B with The Man, can space out the big decisions and coast a bit…
… you now are faced with a never-ending To-Do-List of choices, each crammed to bursting with consequences.
If you’re in business, you are not gonna get around this fact o’ life.
However, here’s a piece of hard-earned advice that may help you out: The most fundamental decision you need to make, as an entrepreneur…
… is simply how you’re going to play the game.
It’s “Step One”, and everything else that happens flows directly from it.
You basically have 3 options:
1. Choose to know nothing about your market and how to succeed in it…
2. Or choose to know something about it all, and see what happens…
3. Or… and this is not a trick question, folks… you can choose to become an expert in what you do.
This includes being the most-informed and knowledgeable dude among your competitors… in what you do and how you do it. Creating product, providing services, conducting campaigns, managing resources, building alliances, raking in the moolah and everything else that happens or doesn’t happen in the successful high-end part of your niche.
I will share a secret with you, which I learned in the course of consulting with boatloads of clients over the decades: Most biz owners never get past Level Two here — they know “something” about their market, prospects and competition… but don’t go deep on any of it.
And it’s fine to live in the shallow end of the pool. Lots of company there.
But choose to do so, if that’s what you’re gonna do. Don’t let it just happen.
If you insist on winging it with your biz, and the stakes are low (as in, you are not investing your life savings, and you didn’t quit your day job yet)… then you can come away with an experience and adventure to tell your grandkids about when the project fizzles. No shame there.
And I’ve known many biz owners who escape disaster despite being pretty much complete-freaking-idiots. They use money in place of knowledge, and hire experts to run the joint. This can actually work, if you have enough capital to ride out the rough spots.
Again, though, just be conscious that this is your plan: To act like a spoiled rich kid, buying everything and everyone you need to get anything done.
And if that realization creeps you out…
… then make the very simple decision to become an expert yourself. The details of doing so are easy, once you’ve made that initial commitment — you figure out what you know and what you don’t know, and set about filling in the gaps while gaining mastery over the steps.
I haven’t had to call anyone for a date in a while, since I’m in a very happy long-term relationship. But even back in my wild-ass bachelor days, the decision to ring a lady up or not never approached the red-line anxiety of those early attempts in my teens.
Years of raw experience, trial-and-error, plus a healthy sense of humor about the absurdity of it all had turned me into a grizzled master of the process.
The hard part was just deciding to do it. To change from being that shy kid who couldn’t pull the trigger… to becoming that guy dedicated to figuring it out. I shared notes with friends, interviewed women to get their take on the experience, read everything I could find on the subject and road-tested advice to see how if it actually worked or not.
Making that decision to just get hip changes everything. Each fragment of info builds and sets up deeper understanding, and your mastery builds quickly when you have opportunities to implement stuff.
That’s important. Being an expert in the intellectual theory of relationships won’t get you a date for the prom. Putting things in motion is the difference between the successful entrepreneur and the info-junkie who can’t let the curtain go up.
This may seem like common sense, but the actual practice of it — going deep into the mastery of what you’re doing — is rare. So it ain’t so common.
And making the choice to become a master will open the floodgates of change in your life, in the best way possible.
Love to hear your thoughts on the subject. The comment section is open. (And sharing of dating horror stories is encouraged… surely there are further marketing lessons to be gleaned from the tales of woe we all have…)
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GREAT POST! Not just good, but great.
Your words also come at a time when people need to take risks to really shine.
You really reaffirm the notion of motion over meditation and this is a very encouraging piece.
Thanks for the post.
Thanks, Bondo. This really is the big damn secret to wealth and happiness that few want to hear. Which just makes it all the more valuable to those willing to listen — it’s a really, really fast way to climb over the more-reticent competition and secure a top position while others are dithering…
I think I may be addicted to change. Every year it seems like I need a complete shake up in my life. New relationships, new businesses, new hobbies, etc etc etc. This week my life has once again been venturing down some very new paths and I’m excited as hell to find out where these roads lead to. Great post.
Yeah, we’ve discussed this a lot, Jamo — one of my favorite topics. Change is a fearsome beast when you’re unfamiliar with it, and totally addicting once you start enjoying the ride. Life IS change… it’s just that most folks spend all their energy resisting, while the successful dudes and dudettes go with it…
This is one of the best posts iv’e read in a while. It reminds me that I’m sometimes being a teen scared to phone the hot ones, and settling for the ugly ones.
Thanks for reminding me to aim BIG… **LOL**
Ah, yes, the Scared Inner Teenager who lives inside all of us. Gangly, lacking self awareness and confidence yet boisterous and brimming with nervous energy.
That dude can wear you out with high-octane anxiety and doubt…
Great post. I think I’ve been hesitant to become a real expert in some areas of the services I offer because I sometimes question myself. What if I put in all this time into learning this stuff and then figure out later that its not what I want to do?
What if I’m spending too much time learning and trying to be an expert instead of actually getting out there and trying to get clients?
Those are the things I wrestle with, but I think this post just helped inspire me to just do it and worry about the consequences later.
So thank you : )
Hi Eugene. Good point, and yes there is a good balance of research and action. Let’s call it one-to-one, to start… one hour of research, followed or preceded by one hour of putting stuff into action. Or in bunches of three hours each, or however it fits in your biz.
Adjust as needed or wanted, up or down. At the beginning of my freelance career, it was easily one-to-one. Then, after a year or so, it became around 3 or 4-to-one (the big number being action).
I wish I’d kept better track of the split, because it’s a good question.
Thanks for the note.
Great post as always.
Change is something I am addicted too and I have, through the discipline of martial arts, learned how to focus and just be disciplined.
My lesson in dating that influenced me a lot in marketing was getting my heart ripped out by my then-fiancee when i was 18 years old.
It was driving force that helped me get through the toughest thing starting out in marketing and as an entrepreneur and that is dealing with adversity.
Now a few people make it online straight away and get great results, i on the other hand went through hell and back. And still do from time to time. But what really kept me going was the why factor. I know it’s odd but to prove to that ex that I wasn’t a loser and was worth it and she made a big mistake letting me go. I came to where I am today, I have since let go of those pesky emotions that drove me at the start but they were the rocket fuel to get to where I am today.
If I looked back at things I could have done – such as planning my way. I would have, but then again going through the struggles were a must to get to where I’m going.
anyway looking forward to speaking to you tomorrow and sharing this post with my list.
Yes, I anticipate you’ll gouge me with excellent questions during that interview tomorrow. Looking forward to it…
Brilliant Interview John, thanks again.
Hope the questions were grueling enough for ya 😛
I love this line: “When you resist change, the anxiety and internal turmoil builds and festers. When you engage with change, you are constantly flushing out the bad ju-ju, keeping your system in good working order.”
Change is the blood and breath of a business.
Thank you for this.
Is it really change that everyone is addicted to?
Because, to be perfectly honest, change irritates the hell out of me…
I want my Hazelnut coffee every morning and I’ll wait ’til they brew a fresh pot if it’s not there. I’m in the gym at 6 every afternoon or I’m not going. And for some reason there’s only one company in the world that can make a half-way decent Ranch dressing… I’ll only shop at grocery stores that stock it.
So yeah, I hate change. But the way you define “change” in the first few lines… I’d say it sounds more like “challenge.” And I’m all about a challenge.
Tell me I can’t and I’m going to try. Tell me it’s going to be tough and I’ll tell you I hope so. “Impossible” and “tough” seriously thin out the competition.
I’ve been consciously tracking something for a while now. I’ve been talking to people who are near the top in their fields (sports, medicine, business, etc) because I find this fascinating. There’s a large consistency between every field: The most successful people aren’t successful in spite of the fact that their work/sport/research is difficult… they went after it because it was a challenge in the first place. Peak performers seek out challenges.
But for your post… I think decision is the most important point.
It’s amazing to me what you can accomplish when you just make a friggin’ decision… pretty much no matter what that decision is. People lose 100lbs, quit smoking, and build business empires all for the same reason… they decided they were going to.
After the decision (a real decision, not “I’ll give it a shot”), you figure out the details because you have to.
So I guess at the end, I’m 100% with you on the “decide to become an expert.” I’ll say the same thing everyone else as said: great post 🙂
There are some secrets to adulthood that have taken me a long time to realize. So many times I wished I had “gone for it” and hesitated until the window of opportunity expired… boyfriends, business, networking.
It hurts to learn these lessons over and over again. Now, when I have a thought more than once in 5 minutes I take action.
Result: Now I usually get what I want.
Not acting, not coping with change, hesitation = pain, regret and not getting what I want.
Great post John! We might need to start calling you “Ladykiller.” All those poor women who regret not getting in your pants.
Can you write me a note to hand out at the next reunion, Rockstar?
Great words John, you seem to have the ‘knack’.
comes so easily…….I guess.
Or that’s what theywould have you believe. Nothing worth haVING EVER ARRIVES, just on it’s own.
People get lucky – the harder/smarter they work the luckier they get.
I’ll make more informed post later, once I’ve finished reading.
Right now my eyes are blurred and I read the email as the most important thing as not
‘… started the gig’
‘start the day with egg’.
That works, too…
Thanks for a great post. The idea of aiming to be an expert is really inspiring and a
great motivator. It is the key idea behind the Charles Atlas type of ad – about teaching a lesson to the guy who kicks sand in your face. Train hard and you can enjoy showing him his big mistake!
Become an expert and enjoy the look on the faces of those who have been your greatest critics (including yourself)
You bet. The inertia of rest is strong and changing the current state needs will power and action. One needs to get off the b*tt to change things.
And when you take up the challenge and decide to ‘just do it’, you are half done. A little push more and you won’t know when you crossed the finishing line.
We have a saying in India – “Firm resolve cuts the shackles of indecision!”
awesome post! 🙂
I think that change is the source of life. In nature everything changes all the time.
The moment it stops changing – it starts dying. And I think it’s the same with us humans. When we resist change and defend the status quo – we are not moving towards life.
I believe you can’t avoid change, the question is only – do you flow with it – or are you trying to paddle against the flow all the time.
Another great point is that we really have to DO the stuff (duh! 😉 ). There are a lot of “talkers” – but fewer do-ers.
But the do-ers are the ones getting the results. And that’s what makes the diffrence.
this is a great post because it hits right at what holds most folks back. Me included for a while there.
I recently made the conscious decision to BE the expert. The authority in my market. And it’s partly so I can offer the best to my clients and also simply because it’s something that Google can’t slap out of you. And the competition can’t really out rank you on either.
It is the one area I have identified where there is very little competition.
Somebody once said that the last mile on the road to success is lonely. You just clarified why that is.
Good line: Google can’t slap it out of you…
I like change,depending on what it is. I have decided to move away from Mom and Dad a Long time ago. Going thru Chicago
I think my problem is the Shiny Object Syndrome. I have a whole bunch of shit that I paid for and probably wont do.
Remember John, when I bought your program? Simple Writing System. I have started your program, never finished.
I get bored very easy,well like you said “Getting rid of the ju,ju,ju. There is all this stuff sitting around I never knew what to call it.
I remember John gave me another chance to get SWS done. I never expected him to do that. I am grateful too.but I didn’t finish it.
So this week, I am deciding what I should do,
I’m not spending money if I am not online.
Or I could get one of my frigin websites earning money, Then rinse and repeat. I keep trying.
I can see your point about being an expert, I had not thought of. I don’t really see myself as a Expert.
A good friend of mine visiting from Colorado (I live in northern NJ) wanted a NYC dirty water dog (for the uninformed – a street vendor hot dog).
I said ” a good friend of mine, a buddhist monk, has a cart down in the Village.
Sooo, we hop in my car, zoom through the Holland tunnel and arrive at the cart. They are both my friends, consequently, they have my sense of humour, I introduce them to one and other.
My dog selling monk friend asks my Colorado friend “well, what’ll it be?”
My Colorado friend jokingly says “make me one with everything.”
We have a good laugh and my Colorado friend gets a dog with everything on it and hands over a ten spot.
My monk friend goes about his business, my Colorado friend, looking perplexed, asks “These dogs are ten bucks?”
No says my monk friend.
Colorado friend – “Well, where’s my change?”
Monk Friend – “in case you didn’t know, change comes from within!”
That seriously happened? Funny, if so…
Hi John, it’s been too long since I’ve read your blog!
Recently I met a ‘nice man’. He was everything on the outside, although; was he insincere?
I hadn’t dated in over 1 year so I was rightfully hesitant … But guess what? I went for it… and … he was a flop!
… Make wise choices in your business. Even when the opportunity ‘looks fabulous’ on the outside; look deep before leaping, (or at the very least be courageous in the face of possible failure).
It felt good to take action, followed by the inevitable “dust off”.
John,this essay is a keeper. Like Yoda said
“Do or do not,there is no try.”
Yes,no,maybe. Maybe is not now so it’s no now. I believe the maybe is not fear of success or failure but the fear of the unknown and making a decision without all of the facts. As having all facts is static and change is dynamic having all the facts is temporary at best. Once I accepted that course corrections are required for successful life navigation and embraced change as a tool to exploit opportunity as a positive, my results did a 180. What motivated me off my ass set was when she said
“Go big or go home…to your blankey.”
Funny — that must have been a significant woman in your life. Made me think of all the one-liners from women that startled/stunned/woke me up over the decades. One blunt line like that can do the work of a library full of self-help. I believe it’s one of the primary functions of smart young women, to dumb young men (like I was) who are full of piss-n-vinegar, full of themselves, full of wrong-headed notions, and full of promise that will go to waste if no intervention happens.
I’m trying to get a freakin date. I get the number. I make the call. It all seems like it’s going to happen and then…
…nuffin. Starting to feel like there’s something disgustingly wrong with me no one wants to mention.
Business on the other hand is starting to roll nicely. People are calling me. I’m barely even trying.
What is it John? WHAT IS IT? Is it because I’m just so awesome it freaks them out. Maybe they feel like they don’t deserve me. No self confidence.
Man, it’s frustrating.
Must be the awesomeness, Scott. Gotta be the awesomeness…
Great post, John.
And the corollary would be great entrepreneurs are instruments of change.
I know you’ve been around those folks that are embodiments of Chaos Theory, constantly shaking it up to grab a better angle.
Routine is the death of the human spirit.
For entrepreneurs like us, yeah. What’s scary is that routine is the default choice for most folks. (Some routine is good, of course… so you can get through daily chores fast. But a LIFE stuck in routine? Screw that…)
John, I think you are constantly tapped into my head. I was just wondering where you’ve been the other day because I hadn’t received a notification in my email that you’ve released a blog and… bam – there it is!
And not only is it there, but you just answered something that’s been rolling around in my mind for a few weeks.
“… then make the very simple decision to become an expert yourself. The details of doing so are easy, once you’ve made that initial commitment — you figure out what you know and what you don’t know, and set about filling in the gaps while gaining mastery over the steps.”
I’m committed and now I’ve said it on your blog so now I’ve got to keep proving it.
Let me say that change is good. Winging it is scary. Solid knowledge and practice rules.
And dating horror stories? Yeah, had a few. Then there’s the marriage horror story (bad choices). Been there, done that. Glad it’s over (change)! Change happens inside and outside of us all, but it’s up to us to implement the knowledge that comes when it’s knocking at our door – like your post here.
You know what, Gabrielle? When you decide to just live your life as well as you can… which means you fill in the gaps when you realize you have them, and you change when you realize change is required for the situation to be different… you will go through many, many rough times. But being fully aware, and going for the gusto, means that you have a better chance to survive even the horror stories… and have a good, funny story to tell later… and learn to do better next time. Sitting back and reflecting on the ride, when you get older, isn’t all laughs and giggles — there are seriously screwed-up periods we all gotta go through. However, once you accept it’s all part and parcel of the trip, you relish every moment.
Thanks for the note.
So the lesson is.. go do it, if it kicks your ass ah well, just get up, dust it off, and Look where you are going but keep going.
Thanks John! Just when I needed a kick in the butt!
Hugs back, R. My foot hurts from kicking so many butts today…
I’ve been reading your blog consistently, and this one is really great. In creating over 35 companies myself, I had to do number 3 or I would have failed. As you know most of my Marketing efforts initially were trial and error. But I learned from my mistakes. Then I found experts like yourself and dear Gary, who propelled me even further.
If your readers implement what you teach them in this blog, they can’t help but succeed.
To Everyone’s Success.
Hi Ken. Thanks for the note…
Excellent post and reminder. Here’s how I think of that in short- Reality forms around commitment. Commitment is born out of conscious choice.
I’m a newbie to John’s blog, I signed up after listening to an interview I got from itunes on copywriting – Meet the Giants
Thought the interview was great, and I think your blog is great too.
Welcome aboard. Skip the links, though, next time…
Found out the same at my 20 year reunion. LOL.
Thanks for the reminder to become the EXPERT in EVERYTHING related to my biz. I have been acquiring knowledge but have shifted into action. Nothing like being beat up a few time!
Keep up the good work, Master John.
That reunion shit is real, and I’m almost ready to believe that the ladies PLAN it to work that way…
I must be “loopy”.
I actually LOVE the whole process of rising to “expert”
status in a new business challenge.
Learning and achieving mastery is such a damn powerful thing that the other stuff you have to deal with
bothersome, at most.
“We’re ALL SCARED”…you said a couple of months ago!
That was something I will never forget.
Yes, its scary, and daunting—but the juices that go
blistering thru your bloodstream as you face fear—-
now THAT’S living!
You got me reading Halbert’s stuff—you and he are
Dont stop writing until you are 126 years old—we need
to hear it.
Thanks for the note, Don. I’m aiming for 100, though…
Hi John, excellent presentation as usual.
However, trying to be an expert in a constanly changing IM is like trying to catch
a fighter jet with a butterfly net. To quote
an oldie, at some point you gotta stop learning and start earning. Or, when at the
end of your rope you have to start inovating.
The survival mode kicks in and make something
I know, I know. It’s a difficult time to try to nail info down, because it changes so often. But the best do it anyway. I never said getting on the expert path was easy — I said the decision to do so is easy, and getting into that mindset is relatively easy. The actual following of shifting info is harder, but it can be done (and IS being done by the best).
open secret? That’s what you told with;
“but the actual practice of it — going deep into the mastery of what you’re doing — is rare. So it ain’t so common”
My take is, if you can’t go deep into yourself, you can’t go deep in the world of being an expert. Prescription = regular meditation.
Meditation with action, Michael. You need both.
Interesting comparison, John. Being female, and a teenager in the early 70’s I wasn’t the one compelled to pick up the phone. But I definitely had my share of agonizing crushes.
I think in love or in business, if there’s a risk to take, having an alternate plan in place can make a huge difference.
Something like this: I’m going to call Suzie, and if Suzie says no, I will call Linda (someone you’ve gone out with before and had a pleasant time with).
Smart entrepreneurs always have backup plans. For example, you want to try something new in your marketing, but are not an expert in that avenue. Your backup plan may be that if it doesn’t work as you hope, then you promise yourself you’ll bring in an expert in that type of marketing so that your idea gets a fair shake.
You could take it one step further, too. If hiring the pro doesn’t achieve the results you want, then you have another marketing idea/strategy to test out, as a backup, to go with next.
This way you’re always in motion and don’t allow yourself the time to wallow in pain or let yourself dwell on the so-called “failure” of your idea. Of course we know, there are no failures, only ideas that we learn from so we’re better informed on the next “adventure”.
Just my .02.
And John, I need to let you know about a problem with the direct view of the Action Seminar. Your support staff wasn’t helpful but I think this was an error on their part and I’m sure you’ll want to take care of it. How can I reach you directly? Or, could you email me? Thanks!
YES, Chris — you keep a long line of options behind the one you’re going after, at all times. Never put all your eggs into one basket and all that.
Regarding support: Sorry for your bad experience. Go to the support desk in the Insider’s Club and re-submit your ticket. Our staff is small, and we know them all personally… and they have gotten high ratings for support for years now. We don’t off-shore any of it. If you experienced a bad contact, please try again. There are multiple reasons why your email may have been lost, or tech issues prevented the solution from happening, or whatever. We take support much, much more seriously than any other online organization we know of…
Thanks for the great post. I think the most destructive habit is not fearing to take THE PLUNGE but going easy on the small things you need to do to become an expert, almost feeling your time is too precious to spend on the monotomous grind required to make you a master, while hoping for something more worthwhile to turn up…..Then one day you wake up to find life has passed you by.
Yo, I’m looking at beginning the aging process in earnest here, so don’t talk to me about life passing you by. That only happens when you snooze your life away. As a Zen-aware dude, you go for the gusto every day, and you consciously go through life enjoying the ride thoroughly. It is a short adventure, when you get really old and look back… but you should aim to hit that day when you look back and say (ala Frank Sinatra) yeah, you did it your way, and it was a blast. A long life is a luxury that most people ignore — the petty bullshit of daily life consumes their thoughts, and they miss the Big Picture. Life lived well is a Feast… but you’ll never be invited to the party, and you need to really have your shit together to elbow your way into a seat at the table. That’s the way it is. Thus: Get real, go deep, and strive for expertise.
Life WILL pass you by, if you slip into the zombie state most of the world exists in. You must actively seek a different path, if you’re gonna be different…
Thanks so much for this great post which is the best I´ve ever read and the one I´ll never forget.
I´ve been that info-junkie for so long but now I´m starting to put things in motions which at the same time is fun even if I fail I learn and make me stronger.
Some people or better to say many,many people
don´t like to hear the truth but I love it even if I don´t like it in that moment and I
And yes if you wanna do something better do it good or don´t do it at all so yah better
become an expert..I´ll aim fot that one!
Thanks again John and be blessed!
Thanks for the note, Orestes. Good luck to you…
John — Great rant. But the point’s not very profound. Just HOW expert do we need to become. Malcolm Gladwell says it will take 10,000 hours. That’s a long time to wait to get a date. Or, if we barge ahead with little knowledge, we face a lot of rejection and failure. And that’s OK for an entrepreneur, so long as we learn from those flops — and I reckon that’s your point. I believe that most serious business people seriously try to learn as much as they possibly can about their biz and their market. But, still, trial and error is a painful way to learn to be an “expert,” and I was looking for a little more from you. I know, I know, you have a product. But so do a million (?) other “gurus” and the investment in expertology can quickly devour all your working capital. What can you say about just getting the right balance of expertise and activity?
Yeah, I head that 10,000 hour thing 30 years ago, long before Gladwell put it in his book. Guitarists have known this forever — you start at 13, obsess to the point you’re playing and practicing every spare minute (and sleeping with your cheap axe in bed with you, it’s just the most gorgeous thing you’ve ever encountered since your binkie as a swaddled baby), and squeezing in close to the same hours as a part-time job. At 40 hours a week, in 5 years you’re a grand master. (This is Eric Clapton’s story — at 18, he was a sought after lead guitarist in London. He is NOT a natural — the dude put in his hours.) At 20, it’s 10 years.
BUT… we’re talking super-duper grand master at that point. As a copywriter, after 5 years I was in that handful of A Listers in the world handling the big jobs — a budding expert. However, I was GOOD after just a year or so of consistent writing.
The “expert” level I’m referring to here, in this post, is an on-going process, John. You don’t get there accidentally — you make the choice to go deep, and then you obsess. I use the word “expert” loosely, not as a “grand master”, but as someone at the top of the pack in your market — among the most knowledgeable and active and successful of your competitors. Make sense? Your decision to be an expert puts you on the path… so each move you make furthers your quest. You read all you can, you consult with masters, you test and work hard in the real world. You become an expert, because you know what to do, and how to do it… and then you go DO it. You’re on the path to becoming a big-time expert… but in the process, you’re refining your expertise. And you ARE an expert, because you’re dedicated, and you’re going after the higher levels of expertdom.
To go back to the guitar example: I started at 13, and actually an extremely bad teacher, so I was held back a bit. I met a guy when I was 15 who was much better than I was, and we formed bands immediately… so I was on-stage, playing full sets, doing covers acceptably, in a real band, just a short time after I got serious about playing guitar. We weren’t experts, but we got the job done… and we were well on the road to becoming experts. It was movement, putting what we learned and were continuing to learn into action, in front of high school dances.
It was a rush, tell you what.
So, generally, the “expertise” I’m talking about here is getting on the road to mastery. By doing so, you will zoom past the majority of your competition, who are sluggards unwilling to learn more than the bare minimum. Okay?
Now, regarding your other point: Part of the FIRST steps you should take is to find mentors, or guru’s, or teachers… and they can be authors of books you can get at the library for free or — as is the case here — manage free blogs… and devour what they share. You should concentrate on just one, or maybe two, at a time, so you aren’t confused. Learn what they know, apply it, move on when you need to.
Explore the archives here, John. I’ve answered this question about expertise a dozen times over the years. For free.
I understand you want shortcuts. I’m a huge fan of shortcuts. But you gotta take that first step, and commit to the path. Which will put your nose deep into my archives, hunting down the answers to your questions.
You should answer your last question yourself. What’s the right balance for YOU, at this point in your career? I know it’s frustrating, but this blog is crammed with answers… however, you gotta find most of them yourself. Don’t expect to be spoon-fed in your quest for expertise. (That’s probably a topic worthy of a post…)
Good luck, John.
Great post John. It’s not that I don’t like change, but I think I change to often… and too soon. I have so much shit I want to do and learn, but I(at least in the past) would change course before I had much, if any success with what I was already doing. Change can be hard, and scary but what’s the alternative? Living in misery doing something you hate everyday because you’re afraid to step out of your comfort zone and take action.
When I think about it, almost everything I was hesitant or a little scared to do was never as bad or scary as I thought it was going to be. And I’d venture to say that’s so with most people.
So for me, this post reminded me to keep embracing change and striving forward, but to accomplish one thing at a time… or nothing at all.
Thanks for the post John.
Funny,you wrote this at a time when I decided to get real and not just test the waters of being a real businessman,but taking the plunge and seeing if I have what it takes.
Talking today to one of the top sports and entertainment agents in the biz. Lets see if I have “the goods” to provide the value he’s looking for.
Good Perspective. Jack Canfield would say in his monotone mantra voice, “oh, what the hell! Go for it anyway!”
As to dating, that’s the same thing. But my best insight into dating was –
At 20 and unmarried, I’m a commodity
At 25 and engaged, I’m not on the market
At 30 and married, I’m still not on the market
At 35 and divorced, more women offering themselves to me than ever before.
Moral: Keep in shape. Recognize any reason for coming in for a drink means a very long night in her bed. And don’t worry – the older us men get, the more the wild the women get to sell you on them!
I didn’t write the following, but I feel it makes perfect sense: “No matter what we feel or know, no matter what our potential gifts or talents, only action brings them to life. Those of us who think we understand concepts, such as commitment, courage and love, one day discover that we only create knowingness when we act; doing becomes understanding. Every aspirant is a focal point of energy and should be a conscious focal point. In the midst of the whirl and storm s/he should make his/her presence felt.”
Great post and very timely for myself. It is in these times when most of the sheeple are afraid to move when still employed. Hey they kept you for a reason? what is the reason? The opportunities are the best in these challenging times especially if you are very good at your niche / specialty. This is just another hint for me to leave my 9-5 JOB aka (Just Outrageously Bored). I realized that there is only mediocrity left for me in all this conformity and everyone being dealt with equally. The only thanks of gratitude is a 5 yearly plaque and the biweekly check.
Keep it coming.
Your truth about “just deciding to do it and committing to it” is really what it boils down to. A simple rule that when applied intelligently works every time.
Always good to be reminded.
[…] 3. Step One of Your Shiny New Life […]
John… killer as always.
Yeah, in the early days I was shocked at how the entrepreneurs I hung out with were willing to take BIG chances… on an educated whim.
I’ve learned since that it’s the “educated” part that’s key. Combine that with the thrill of risk-taking (with a REAL shot at money) and voila… an entrepreneur is born.
Great stuff. Thanks John.
Good points; one thing I count on is that my customers can usually tell the difference between a non-expert and a genuine one… to my competitors’ detriment. It’s always been important to me to genuinely put in the hard work it takes to become an authority/master of what you’re teaching.
It also comes out in the copy, how you communicate with your audience, the level of knowledge and authenticity you have. And you’re right, most don’t get out of the shallow end, they only take the time to ‘get by’ instead of becoming a true professional.
Business #1. I’ll be getting into the poker niche. And although I’ve been a casual player for years, I will wait until I’ve cashed in at least a few tourneys (including WSOP) before producing info products, so that I have some credibility elements to bring to the table. For me to get to that skill level, it will take a few years, and I’m ok with that.
Business #2. Another (popular/confidential) niche I’ll never be an expert in; is one in which I’ll hire out expertise in and use the ‘publisher’ model, of interviewing and hiring talent to produce the content, instead of being the expert myself.
I much prefer business model #1, though the tradeoff as always is time and leverage. So for “personal expertise” mastery business models, they need to be scalable and ones that you have a personal passion and expertise within (like i do for trading). To make successful side businesses, it’s ok to not be the SME/expert, and hire that out, for spinoff/secondary businesses one wants to be in.
I like the way you explained it, and you’re right. Most people never reach for mastery in anything, and that’s ok, for those that do, we can add value and build empires.
In my experience the decision to as you say “become an expert yourself” was the easy part. The difficult part has been all the lonely hours mastering myself to follow-through with all the spare minutes I could muster in studying, networking and asking questions of those who know more than I to make that decision my reality. Wow, has it paid off!
Great Post John!
The quote below hit hard for me and I love the idea of becoming the “expert” and must act on it and the task is daunting!
“Putting things in motion is the difference between the successful entrepreneur and the info-junkie who can’t let the curtain go up.”
Here’s one more little English butt to kick…Great post as always…Thanks John.
As a corporate “change agent” I am always fascinated with watching how each person deals with change; the more input they have into it, the better the outcome.
And DOING is so much better than thinking about doing – “Fast and Crude outdoes slow and elegant” my sensei once told me! It has got my butt into gear MANY times!
I have been a big fan from afar for a while, but ever since I watched your interview with Tony Robbins, I have become a John Carlton carnival barker.
You spoke to me in this post as I am one who has shelves full of programs and knowledge that I readily and successfully share with others only to let my own projects and ambition sit on the back burner.
I have a successful business and speaking career in my industry, but I know there is so much more. I just need to stop worrying about what will go wrong and embrace the fact that the unsuccessful things get me closer to the successful things. Action is good, but consistent and progressive action is the game changer.
I am going to implement my own coaching advice and teach by example. It is easier to share the experience that way. After all, I think you were the one that said, “it is only when we do, will we truly know”… or maybe I just think you said that. Either way, I am crediting it to you and making it my mantra.
Greetings from downunder John,
Love the post!(Understatement)
This timely discovery of you and related post on “change” couldnt of come at a more opportune time. Becoming an expert is as youve said- a mental shift that is for the major part simply believing in yourself. Map out a path, learn more, fill in the “gaps” and place them into your coat of arms. The suit that does just that- protects you from self doubt and arms you with the knowledge that potential and existing clients will recognise as value. You Rock!
Bruce (an Ozi called Bruce- who’d of thunk it?)
Great post!! I think it’s a shame more people don’t know what a positive effect some change can have. It’s always great to be reminded of that. Thanks!
I too was once, in the Corporate Game, and I absolutely hated it. All dressed up, when all I really wanted, was my flip flops, short, shorts, and more. Not a dress up, who’s gonna blow the boss today, crap. I’ve been writing for many years, I have tons and tons of books, I’ve written to my kids, my grand kids and mostly just ranting, as you say.. I’m glad I made that change, and more ahead, because the day I quit Corporate Life, It’s like the windows came open, and the light shown through, where it had not before, so it’s great to experience change, and I do welcome it, but some of my change, is a lot harder, than just quitting a job I hated, and going on to another Job, just as bad. So I decided to get Cancer, and then I could stay home, and raise my kids, and then………I’d live my life, oh okay, sure. Not happening as I had hoped, but hey, it’s alright, I’m still breathing, so there still must be some time, in me. Right??
So I’d like to say, I like these posts, and I won’t say I’m sorry for being nervous, but I have to start someplace, I’m told.!!
So here I am, waiting on my Publisher, to Publish, my new book:) I’m very excited too, for like I mentioned, I’ve got yet another change coming, too. Thanks for the chance to say, what’s in my head….