While I don’t follow social media much anymore, it seems that any time I dip in the best latest article that people are sharing is some guru writing about how you need to follow you passion. They tell you that once they started to just do what they wanted, the money came rolling in.
Of course they want you to subscribe to their email list and once you’re on the list get ready to be pitched a $4000 course on how to follow your passion.
That means they sit behind their bullshit “follow your passion” course while you’re in the midst of handling kids and clients and more bills than that 20 year old guru knew existed.
Following your passion is at worst terrible advice and at best, incomplete. I sat there reading these guru’s just like you and at first I bought in to it. Then a change came, I realized that the advice to follow your passion was simplistic and I needed to find something more if I wanted to build a business that was in line with where I wanted to be.
The goal behind ‘follow your passion’ advice is a good one. It’s the thought that you don’t want to build a business you hate. You don’t want to work a job that makes you want to pluck your eyes out. Dreading Mondays and blessing Friday for a life of work doesn’t sound like any fun to me.
Instead, you need to understand what type of life you want to live. You need to understand what matters to you, what are you trying to accomplish in the big picture?
I know that I don’t want to be required to be online more than two days a week. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be online other days, just that I had no one with any expectations of me outside of those two days. In those days I’d coach and get content on my site.
I could spend the rest of my week working on writing, reading, research. Doing whatever I wanted in the day. Sometimes that would include taking the kids out to the local mountains and just hanging out.
The only reason I know this is that I’ve spent a bunch of time working on what I want to do. Going over where I want to be is how I start every notebook. It’s what I walk people through when they join me in BootCamp. It helps us create our filter documents, the things we put every single idea we have through to see if it’s getting us closer or further from the ideal life that we want.
One of the key things that people miss as they build their ideas under the follow your passion advice, is that they never really ask what people will pay for. They do some random math in their head that usually says millions of people have a problem and if only 1% pay for my version of the fix then I’ll be a millionaire.
It’s a lie. A nice pretty lie that everyone wants to tell you. They want you to pay to hear it over and over and over. This is what they’re passion course is all about. Telling you a pretty lie again, but you paid for the privilege of getting lied to this time.
Instead of doing terrible math, it’s time to do some research. Talk to the end users of your product. Ask them to put just a bit of money down to solve the problem initially. Run the first version of your next killer idea as a consulting service to start. Are people paying for your advice as a consultant?
If not, why on earth do you think they would buy your course on the same topic? You’re living the lie, and it’s sad.
Jeff Goins says that when he has an idea for a book his first stop is 10 blog posts. If he still has something to say after 10 blog posts then he looks at the engagement that people had with the content. Did they care? Did they engage?
If they cared and he doesn’t feel like he explored the topic fully, then he writes a book. He tested his content before he spent all the extra effort on building a book. If you put some real testing in, how many of your ideas would have never left your head? What would you be working on now instead?
Years ago I had a course called Hope is Not a Strategy. I put months of effort in to it. I wrote emails and dreamed that million user dream. It ended with zero sales and lots of wasted time. While that was hard, it wasn’t the hardest part.
The hardest part was watching as a few weeks later I saw someone I respect use the same words I was using to advertise the course in their blog post. It hurt as I watched them get loads of comments about how the phrase “Hope is not a Strategy” was amazing. People were printing it off and there was even a poster someone made.
When that happened I went to a dark place. I almost threw in the towel. Stopped this whole writing and business thing. Almost went back to lifting heavy stuff on some construction site somewhere.
Clearly I didn’t quite. Now I don’t remember what made me keep going. Possibly an overdeveloped sense of my own worth? Too much optimism that the idea had merit, even if someone else was winning with it.
What I came to realize a few years later as I read So Good They Can’t Ignore You is that I didn’t have the career capital to further the idea yet. Where the other blogger had 20+ years in software and had spoke at events to numerous to name, I had under 10 years at the time and had spoke at a few regional events.
It didn’t stop the hurt from being there, but I did mean I understood what happened and started to focus on building the career capital to be noticed.
You need to ask yourself the same question about your business. Do you have the capital to get noticed? So you want to do tutorial videos, do you have a YouTube channel with a bunch of followers? Can you produce videos that are 10x better than the competition? Can you produce these videos day in day out for months or years?
If not, ask yourself “What would it take to be a top video training provider?” Change that question for whatever idea you have. What is it going to take to be 10x better than the competition? Are you willing to put the focus and sacrifice in to do that?
If not, stop now.
I run Ultramarathon’s. The first distance that’s “official” is 50km, and I ran my first one last September. One thing you hear over and over as you follow the sport is that:
Oh sure, they’re competitive but when you talk to them they want to train. If there was no racing, they say they’d train anyway for the training.
I feel the same way. I run the races to have some sort of measure, but I get up at 4am on Saturday and go run 30km in the rain because there is nothing I’d rather do.
Whatever thing you’re trying to make work, do you have that same relationship with it? Do you wake up an hour early to work on it? Do you think about it because you just can’t help it? Do you not consider it work?
That’s the type of focus it takes to get to be 10x better than the competition. That’s the type of effort that it takes to succeed, and success is usually a long slow drip not some flash of success.
Are you in for that hard work as you try to find your focus?
Yeah I know I lamented the “follow your passion” people that have some course to sell and now I’m going to talk about the book I’m working on. Well I don’t have a course that teaches you more. I’m not holding back a bunch of secret tips to get you to pay me for them. Yes the first few videos in my BootCamp cover the same ideas, but I’m going to give them to you for free when you have the book anyway.
When The Art of Focus comes out it’s all in the book so you should get it. If you want to join the launch team email firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know you want to join the team. I want to help as many people as possible find work that inspires them. I want to help as many people as possible build a business that lets them be the parent they dreamed of doing.
You can help me do that by joining the launch team and starting to spread the word that you can find your focus. You can build a bridge to the work you want to do.
The launch team will be getting a free copy of the book, plus some other goodies. I could use your help spreading the word. I’m on my own hard slog, and just like you I need help too.
If you want to know when The Art of Focus comes out so you can get a FREE copy, make sure you sign up to my email list to get that chance.
Photo by: julochka