We would achieve much more if we got out of our own way. The difference between the top athletes and the rest is not better physical ability, but an ability to avoid talking themselves into failure at the key moments.
Performance = Potential – Self-Sabotage
I remember Peter Allis commenting on golf years ago. A South African golfer was on the tee. Peter whispers into the microphone “This is the perfect specimen of a golfer… (pause)… big hands… and dumb”.
Thinking too much is not good for performance in the big moments. It might help you learn faster from practice, but you have to find a way to switch it off once the real deal begins.
Greg Digneo of Cloud Marketing Lab wrote a beautifully simple explanation over at Triiibes of how to test an idea before you spend any money building. Even “small” ideas like hosting a webinar or writing a short/free ebook to give away on your blog can be tested even before putting time into creating it.
4 Steps to Test an idea
Here’s what Greg does:
Use Unbounce to create a simple landing page. You are trying to get the idea tested as quickly as possible, not creating a landing page work of art. Basic templates work fine. (no affiliation with unbounce, just like their product). You get 30 days for free which is more than enough time to test your idea.
Marketing to consumers? Buy Facebook ads. They generally cost less than $1.00 per click. Marketing to a specific business function? Use Linkedin ads. They generally cost around $3.00 per click.
Test and tweak the ads and the landing page for about a week. Include weekends. You’d be surprised at how much activity happens on a Saturday and Sunday.
If there is enough interest in that week, then implement the idea. If not, then you’ve wasted a few bucks (learnt a lesson) and not ploughed a lot of time into something that no one wants.
Test an idea. Surely you have one? Try it. Nothing to lose. Maybe a big gain.
Have a great weekend – and do some cheap tests of your ideas before you spend any time writing business plan, developing code, doing UI design. Please. Only Kevin Costner can do “Build it and They will Come”.
The US Aikido master George Leonard in his book “Mastery” speaks of 4 approaches that we take to learning new disciplines. It scares me that I might be a regular Hacker… how to shift my approach and push through “good” and reach “better” and one day “expert”?:
The Dabbler – The Dabbler’s learning curve rises very quickly, meets an obstacle and then drops to zero, since the dabbler gives up the activity and goes on to another; repeating the same curve on different activities.
The Obsessive – The Obsessive’s learning curve rises quickly, meets obstacles, which The Obsessive tackles by redoubling his effort, getting more books and tools and trying to figure out ways to get better results faster and cheaper, and then burns out in a short while when he finds that the curve is not a straight line upwards.
The Hacker – The Hacker’s learning curve rises quickly, meets an obstacle or two and then plateaus out on a straight line. The Hacker doesn’t consider the need for more instruction or rising above that level. He is content with level reached and plans to stay at that level.
The Master – The Master’s learning curve rises quickly, plateaus for a while, and with consistent practice, rises again with some regression and plateaus again for a while and so on. The Master knows that Mastery is a lifetime path. The Master enjoys living on the plateau. The Master knows that while he is on the plateau, learning is happening and practice will inevitably raise him to a higher level.
How do we make the journey of learning a journey towards mastery? George outlines five keys to mastery:
Instruction – get an instructor.
Practice – learn to love the plateau and practice for the sake of practice.
Surrender – surrender to the learning process and the learning curve.
Intentionality – bring all of your willpower and the mental game to the learning.
The Edge – focus on the fundamentals and the leading-edge.
Have a great weekend. Looks like spring is here.
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