This past June, my wife and I spent 15 days exploring Ecuador.
Unlike the other countries we visited this past year, our Ecuador adventure involved a lot of bus travel.
On the plus side, Ecuadorian bus travel is cheap. We traveled by bus from the Pacific Ocean to the Amazon jungle, with a couple stops in between for good measure, all for less than $100 USD.
On the not-quite-plus-side, the bus system is entirely unpredictable and you never know how many buses you’ll need to change to get to a particular destination.
On one such night, after about 6 hours of travel (with a few more hours to go), we found ourselves stopped at a standard Ecuadorian bus stop:
As we waited for our next bus, we came in contact with two other gringos; a couple taking a 2 week vacation in Ecuador. They had spent the past few days in the Galapagos and were now headed to the Amazon jungle.
“Perfect,” I thought, as we were also on our way to the Amazon (and if there’s one thing my Human Geography studies have taught, it’s that foreign travel is safer in packs).
So we got to talking the usual traveler’s talk:
And of course, once these questions come to an end:
Our new acquaintances were grade school teachers. They spent the past year saving up for this trip and in about a week they were headed back to the States to teach and start saving again for another trip.
When it was my turn to answer, I told them I do a little teaching myself – on topics like pricing, product launches, and marketing / growth hacking – and that I basically collaborate on various projects and publish books for a living (my own and others).
“What school do you teach at?” she asked.
I don’t – I teach from a platform I created. It’s entirely online.
“So who do you work for?”
No one. I created the platform myself. I’m my own boss.
“Well, what books have you written?”
I mentioned one of my books, The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing, and told her it’s all about an unconventional pricing technique that helps people increase their reach, impact, and sales.
“What makes you the expert?”
What makes you the expert?
I thought about the answer she probably expected to hear:
As I thought about these socially acceptable answers, I realized something: none applied to me.
I teach what I know, and I share what I learn. Some people find that valuable. Because of that, I have the opportunity to make a good living with the flexibility to travel around the world.
So I answered here:
"The better question is: why aren’t you?"
I went on to explain what I meant.
Fundamentally, it comes down to:
What is stopping you from being the expert?
What's keeping you from being the go-to, subject matter expert in your field?
What's holding you back from shipping that book or blog or business?
Because the answer certainly isn't "I don't have a degree" or "I haven't won an award" or "I am still paying my dues..."
More than likely, it has to do with your actions; the action you take when you start, even if you're not ready, or feel under-qualified, or would rather concoct some other excuse instead of doing the work...
Once you decide to take action, the only question after that is: when?
I hope the answer is today.
Started, finished, and shipped in Denver, Colorado.
Total writing time: 3:41 hours
In fact, I must be.
Right now, as I write this blog post, I'm sitting outside a Starbucks in Boise, Idaho...
I'm thousands of miles away from most of my friends and family...
And I'm Homeless and unemployed.
That's right - no job, no predictable income, no home...
And I have no intention of trying to get any of those things back.
Maybe not as crazy as you'd think.
Let me explain...
You might be thinking that being homeless and unemployed is terrible.
After all, that's the scenario presented to us - no job, no home; it means you've lost everything, right? Pretty soon, you're running amok inside a fast food joint demanding breakfast for lunch, even after they stopped serving breakfast...
For some reason, I feel like that's Hollywood's (embellished) take on it. The reality is often much less dramatic.
And in my case, it's actually a little boring.
You see, I didn't lose everything. I made a conscious decision to give up certain things that weren't important to me. To simplify and streamline my life in a way that's congruent with what I want to do and who I want to be. To get rid of excess. To trim the fat, so to speak.
I didn't lose everything.
I have exactly what I need.
And now I have the opportunity to build whatever life I want.
It's a choice most wouldn't be willing to make.
But what good are talents if we keep them buried?
About 6 months ago I put my 2 weeks notice into my employer.
Two weeks ago I sold my car and most of my belongings.
Last week I packed up what remained and shipped it to the West Coast for storage.
This past weekend, I signed out of my unit for the last time and started driving across the country with my fiancee (we get married next month).
I have no conventional job prospects lined up. No massive savings account or trust fund to rely on while I 'get back on my feet.' No escape route if things go south.
I've burned the boat - there's no going back.
No more job. No more house. No more semi-monthly paycheck. No more job title. No more certainty...
In exchange, I get the opportunity to fail.
And that's all I've ever wanted.
Why does the opportunity to fail matter so much?
Because without the possibility of failure, there is no possibility of real success.
And real success is the only thing that matters.
Success means triumph. It means achieving what we set out to achieve. It means growing, expanding and advancing as an individual (and helping others do the same).
But if there's nothing challenging us, no roadblocks on our way to the top, no obstacles along the path, then success is hollow.
I'm sure just about any adult reading this could be the best 1st grade soccer player in the world. But what does that even mean? More importantly, why would it even matter?
The answer, of course, is that it really wouldn't mean anything (and it most certainly wouldn't matter)....
And so we need the prospect of real failure if we want the prospect of real success.
If we want to do something that matters - contrary to the classic expression - failure must be an option.
There's a very simple litmus test to determine if what you're going after has the possibility of real success (and thus real failure).
Does it scare you?
If yes, you're probably doing something that could fail.
Fear is a guidepost.
It let's us know we're headed in the right direction; it means we're doing something outside our comfort zone; it means we're challenging the conventional, safe and certain approach.
If you're fearless, you're probably playing 1st graders in soccer.
And that should be a signal for you to move in a different direction
So here I am in Boise, Idaho, enjoying an iced Americano and thinking about what's next.
Right now, we're on our way to the World Domination Summit 2013 (#wds2013) in Portland, Oregon. We started in Nashville, TN and after several days of cross country travel, we're almost here.
If you're not familiar, WDS is essentially a massive, 3-day conference on entrepreneurship, creativity and creating impact. Obviously, I'm a fan and supporter.
If you're there, shoot me an email and let's connect.
After the conference, my fiancee and I will be traveling up to Seattle to get married. Then we're taking a year long trip around the world. For about 12 months we'll be traveling the southern hemisphere (New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Chile, Peru, etc.).
While this sounds like a year long honeymoon / vacation, it's really not. We're traveling for a year but we'll both be working. We're just not working conventional 9-5 jobs that keep us tied down in a particular geographic location.
Instead, through conscious and calculated decisions (which I mentioned in the beginning of this article), we've created a lifestyle that is sustainable from anywhere in the world.
Believe it or not, this is possible.
Not only is it possible, I think it's necessary for any person hoping to survive in today's economy (a topic for another time).
So how can I sustain myself from anywhere in the world?
Through a number of projects:
Well, I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m going full steam ahead with my publishing company: Insurgent Publishing.
Insurgent Publishing is a boutique, creative publishing platform. That’s a clever way of me saying it’s a very small operation right now that focuses on bringing a specific type of content to a specific group of people, via non-standard methods (beyond simply publishing on Amazon, for example).
So what kind of content are we publishing and who is it for?
Well, if you’re a reader of my blog, you’re already savvy with the style of content I want to publish. Insurgent Publishing focuses on unconventional non-fiction. Like its namesake, it’s all about bringing insurgent ideas (i.e. the types of ideas that don’t fit the one-size-fits-all mainstream status-quo) to the attention of readers.
Some of my favorite books of all time include The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, Poke the Box by Seth Godin and Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. I love these books. I read them several times a year. I’ve probably read each over a dozen times.
But there’s a problem – there aren’t enough mind-blowing books like this in the world.
What makes them unique is their brevity and power; they’re urgent, critical, and they demand action after you read them.
And they don’t fit a specific, conventional mold.
My goal is to find powerful authors (unknowns and well-knowns), creatively collaborate with them in order to break, build and design disruptive ideas, and publish them in beautiful ways for the happy few who want to read them.
Conceptually, I like to think of it like TED talks in book form (and with more depth).
It’s a company that won’t produce content for everyone. But I’m hoping it produces the right content for the right people.
The website isn’t complete yet. It’s taken me about 6 times longer than I expected (which, ironically, I DID expect). I’m hoping to have it up and running this August.
If you enter your email on the home page of the under-construction Insurgent Publishing website right now, you’ll get lifetime discounts on everything we ever publish…(everything - forever).
My way of saying thank you for taking a chance.
*NOTE: if you're a writer, designer or artist and would like to collaborate on a project and get your work published, shoot me an email (tom @ tommorkes.com)
I’m also in the exploration, research and note taking phase of my next book.
I’m hoping to take the same easy to read, urgent style from my book “The Art of Instigating” (get it free by joining the Resistance) and apply it to the topic of “Courage” – what it is, how it works, and how we can cultivate, learn and teach it.
In the book Decisive, by Chip and Dan Heath, we’re given a framework for how decisions work, and how, ultimately, to make better decisions in life. It’s a fascinating and useful book as it helps the reader gain clarity before making a decision. I highly recommend it for those curious about the brain, psychology, and/or marketing – or for people who simply want to make better choices in life.
But it left me wondering: what about the choices in life that are already crystal clear, but the right choice leads you down a path of uncertainty, pain or even death? Or the wrong choice leads you down a path of safety, security or fortune?
How do we make those choices?
While not the entirety of the subject, I consider this an important microcosm of courage as a whole – the ability to make the right choices in life, even if it means sacrificing our comfort, happiness or even our lives.
I hope this gives you a little insight into my thoughts on (one aspect of) the matter.
Would love to hear what you think – and what you’d like me to explore in the book: courage in business, perhaps?
Or possibly courage in writing, art or entrepreneurship? Anything goes – just email me – I’d love to start a conversation.
My podcast In the Trenches may be put on hiatus once I start my international travel.
That’s not to say it’s dead – it would just have to be put on pause. I’m hoping that’s a worst case scenario and the places I travel will allow me the internet access I need to upload and create this type of content. I’m also hoping traveling will expose me to even more awesome people around the world doing great things so I can interview them for the show.
So I’m not sure what will happen with In the Trenches…but if you want it to continue, you should write a review and rate the podcast on iTunes.
The only way this podcast or blog spreads is through word of mouth. Thanks to all those who have spread the word already – and thanks in advance to those who help spread the word in the future.
So, again, please leave a review on iTunes if you want In the Trenches to continue!
I also have a few other (super secret) projects I’m working on with several different people in various fields.
I was just brought on as a project manager for a small, potentially disruptive, startup. Excited to see just how quickly this company can grow and dominate its niche. I hope to share more details after we launch.
I’m in the works with a partner to develop a new online sales platform (apologies for the purposefully vague description). It has the potential to be huge, and I have no doubt we’ll be able to develop it into a successful platform – but it’s going to take some hustle. We’ll be bootstrapping the project using the lean startup approach (i.e. iterative testing until we find a product/market fit). Again, as soon as we have a working product you’ll be the first to hear about it.
I’m also expanding my business consulting services. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re a bootstrapper or a solopreneur looking to make sales (or start making MORE sales), or an author who wants to make money from his or her writing, you should definitely connect with me.
This is limited and I can’t accept everyone.
So shoot me an email and we’ll see if it’s a good fit for both of us (a caveat: I only work with hustlers who are totally committed – fence sitters need not apply).
Along with all this, I’ll continue to write for the Resistance.
Expect the same great writing as always sent directly to your inbox (plus behind the scenes stuff exclusive for subscribers).
While difficult to keep up the pace of multiple quality articles a week, I intend to do it for as long as I’m capable.
And I'll continue to create free and pay what you want content.
If you enjoy my work and want to contribute, the best way is to grab my pay what you want products and treat me to a cup of coffee or something.
Here are a few of my products you might enjoy:
The Gunslinger's Guide to Starting and The Gunslinger's Workbook - Start, finish and ship your project in 30 days or less
Putting on Your Brain Goggles - become more creative instantly
2 Days With Seth Godin - I went to a 2 day seminar/conference w/ Seth Godin. Here's everything we talked about (consider this material gold for entrepreneurs and writers)
Thank you so much for contributing to my creative work.
Well, that’s it for today.
Hope it was enjoyable to read a bit more about me and what I’m up too. More personal than I usually get (and, thus, slightly uncomfortable for me to write), but I hope you enjoyed it.
Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.
And of course...
This is Tom Morkes. If you’re reading this, you ARE the Resistance.
Creative work is hard as hell.
If you’re a writer, entrepreneur, or anyone else challenging and pushing boundaries (read: instigator), you know what I’m talking about.
In fact, creative work is probably the hardest work there is – something only those bold enough to create can appreciate.
But what makes creative work so hard?
Doing creative work means we can fail at any point.
All the hard work we do this week, this month or this year could end up being for nothing. No reward. No payout. No bonus.
In the beginning, most bootstrappers work 80 hour weeks and make sweat shop wages. To make matters worse, the majority of startups fail. And for the aspiring writer? The landscape is even bleaker...
Creative work requires us to be on point every hour of every day.
If we’re not doing our best work, if we’re not going as hard as we can, if we’re not constantly pushing the boundaries, then we’re at risk of being overshadowed by someone who’s willing to hustle harder. The fear is this: any moment we fail to capitalize on is a moment that could have been our tipping point – the thing that allows us to break out of obscurity.
Worse yet, the only thing more exhausting than putting our mind, body and soul into a project, day after day, is the anxiety we experience from the thought of wasting time or losing ground...
For most of us, creating something from scratch requires long periods of time devoted to working in solitude.
This requires a great deal of self-imposed isolation – something that inevitably becomes lonely over a period of time. This isolation is made even more painful when the few times we do interact with other people they don’t “get” what we’re doing.
The only thing lonelier than working in isolation is working beside people who don’t get what you’re doing.
Face it, if you do creative work, at some point the uncertainty, exhaustion and loneliness will make you want to quit.
I can’t tell you how many times a week (a day?) I want to throw in the towel and walk away.
This is the inner creative war we each have to fight if we want to do great work.
It’s at times like this, when things get darkest, you need to remember what's important.
The rest of the world probably won’t get why you do what you do.
But you didn't do it for them, did you?
Do the work. Do YOUR work. And do it for the happy few who want what you create.
Serve those people.
Ignore everyone else.
They're not worth a second of your time anyway.
Creative work is hard...
But here's the thing: life is hard.
Any course of action you choose in life will be hard - hard because you chose to enter the trenches, fight the creative fight, and do work that matters, or hard because you chose to avoid the trenches, insolate yourself from challenging, impactful work, and accept what life throws at you.
I'm sorry, but there's no happy medium, no painless compromise.
These are the only two options.
So what will you choose?
Call me a ruffian, but I'll choose the former.
I hope you do the same.
New to the blog? Join the Resistance and join me and an army of creative ruffians (artists, entrepreneurs and all around instigators) doing important work. Never fight along - join the Resistance.
Do you really need more money in your bank account before you can create something worthwhile?
Do you really need to develop a routine before you can start making something great?
Do you really need more time in the day before you can dare boldly?
Or is it possible that you can create something worthwhile regardless of the number of zeros in your checking account; or that by making something great you create the routine you need; or that just maybe ‘no time’ is precisely the right time to dare boldly…
Writing a book, building a business, creating something without permission – these things are hard to do and they’re plagued with setbacks and failure.
Of course, the enemy knows this and uses it against us. Excuses are just another tactic used by the enemy to stop us from creating our life’s work.
But like anything the enemy throws at us, we can overcome it.
We can prepare ourselves by recognizing these universal truths of creation:
I promise you this – there are a million reasons you shouldn’t start today, why tomorrow works/feels/seems better – but none of these reasons matter. They don’t keep you from doing the work: you do.
With a simple choice, right now, you delay building your worthwhile project.
Or, with the same simple choice, right now, you begin building your empire.
The choice is yours every day.
There will never be a perfect time, place, or set of companions for you to begin your journey.
There will always be mountains to climb, swamps to traverse and dragons to slay.
This isn’t a reason not to start, it’s the reason you MUST start - otherwise there is no journey, no hero, and no story worth telling.
The crazy reality of life is this: it isn’t training. This isn’t a sparring competition getting you ready for the actual fight.
This is it.
This is the real thing. This is the main event. You were born into it. You have one life to live - no do overs, no second chances.
So you have a choice: fight like hell or throw the match.
Either way, you’re going to take a hit (many hits, actually).
While it might seem like throwing the match, which requires less of your energy and strength up front, is the easier choice, the fact is this: you’re going to take way more hits throwing the match than if you stand your ground, keep your gloves up, and hit back.
And I’m sorry to say but opting out to spectate or referee isn’t an option. You might not like it, but that’s the reality.
So how will you fight?
Is by starting.
Start right now. Not tomorrow, not next week - right now.
Now is the best time for you to start; now is the best place for you to begin your journey; now is the best way for you to climb the mountain and slay your dragon.
It’s not easy, but let’s be honest: would you have it any other way?
Good luck and keep fighting.
There’s something about that moment – the moment we finally write our ideas on paper – that’s both invigorating and scary.
We move from day-dreaming to actualizing and everything seems at once entirely possible and wholly reachable.
The goals we set not only excite us by their grandeur, but by the thought of actually reaching them.
The moment you write your ideas on paper and form coherent objectives (clear, precise goals), a shift occurs. This shift brings about two important realizations:
The question is: what will you create?
This is the 3rd episode of “In the Trenches: The Resistance Broadcast Interview Series” and today I had the honor of interviewing Jeff Goins.
Jeff is a successful blogger, published author, and a self declared writer.
Jeff Started his blog in 2010. In less than 2 years time he grew his readership to an impressive 100,000 people a month.
Jeff has been featured in RELAVANT magazine, Problogger, Copyblogger, Zenhabits.net, and many other publications.
You can find his most recent book Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into your Comfortable Life online and in bookstores around the world.
This interview is a MUST listen. Jeff gives so much great information and has such an amazing perspective on writing, publishing, business and life in general.
If you're a writer (or anything you do involves writing of any sort) you NEED to listen - I promise you won't be disappointed.
You can read more about Jeff Goins at GoinsWriter.com.
I highly suggest you subscribe to his newsletter - it's really great content.
If you liked this interview, share it with everyone you know and reach out to Jeff and thank him!
p.s. leave a comment below and let us know what you're struggling with or where you're having success (writing, business, blog or life related - anything goes).
Today I thought I’d try something a little different.
Instead of writing a mindblowing and inspiring blog post (at least that’s my intention with every post I write), I decided to interview a successful entrepreneur, published author and good friend of mine, Al Pittampalli.
This is the first in a series of interviews I'm doing with some really incredible people.
I'm calling it "In The Trenches: The Resistance Broadcast Interview Series"
You can probably guess the type of content we talk about, but I will say this: it's all about those people who are doing creative work, fighting the Enemy daily to build their empire, and making big things happen. The guests will include entrepreneurs, founders, CEO's, authors, bloggers, philosophers, scientists, and psychologists (among others).
You can press play below to listen to the interview immediately (it's hosted via dropbox and anyone should be able to access it - let me know if you have any problems):
UPDATE -- this interview has been republished on my podcast "In The Trenches." Click here to listen to my interview with Al Pittampalli on "In The Trenches" here.
Al knows what it means to instigate and lead, and, if you’re looking to create something from scratch successfully (aspiring writers and entrepreneurs take note), I promise this interview will blow your mind and inspire you.
There are some truly profound pieces of wisdom in here and you really need to hear them from someone who’s in the trenches and knows what it means to fight and strive for something.
A little more about Al Pittampalli:
Al is the founder of The Modern Meeting Company and a self-proclaimed meeting culture warrior. He's on a mission to change the way organizations hold meetings, make decisions, and coordinate action (and when you listen to the interview, you’ll see he’s most certainly doing just that).
Al is a published author. His book Read This Before Our Next Meeting was published by Seth Godin’s Domino Project, and during the week of its release it was the most popular Kindle book in the world.
Al has been featured in Forbes, the Telegraph, Huffington Post, CBS Money Watch, and many others publications.
You can read his blog and find out more about him and his company at his website: www.modernmeetingstandard.com
Al is a sought-after speaker and writer and an all-around awesome guy.
Here are just a few of the subjects we touch on:
I hope you enjoy the interview.
*note: I had originally recorded the interview on a better recording system, but that version ended up crashing on me, so what you’re listening to is the unedited, unabridged, backup version. There’s nothing sexy about it, but I think the sound quality is good enough to sit through and enjoy.
I’d like to hear your feedback too – let me know in the comments below or shoot me an email and let me know if you want to hear more interviews like this one!
p.s. If you haven't subscribed to The Resistance Broadcast, click the link below and receive a free copy of my book The Art of Instigating, as well as broadcasts (newsletter publications) 3 times a week - Monday, Wednesday and Friday - to help you build your empire.
Note: if you haven’t read The Art of Instigating, read that first. Grab a copy for free by clicking here. It’s short and sweet, I promise.
When it comes to doing creative, courageous work, there are forces at work that act against us.
Any time we strive to create something from scratch and without permission, we go to war with the Enemy.
The Enemy is composed of two major fighting units: conventional forces (the Army of Bad Habits we’ve accumulated over the years), and unconventional forces (the voice in our head that feeds us negative self-talk propaganda).
These units are led by a hardened combat veteran that wants nothing more than to see your creative work fail: the brain stem.
To fight the Enemy, we must understand the Enemy.
We will start with the Army of Bad Habits (arguably the simplest to identify, although not necessarily the easiest to defeat).
The Army of Bad Habits is nothing more than the accumulation of years of individual negative actions repeated consistently over time.
These actions, over the course of that time, have gained brain map territory and strengthened their trench lines (neural networks).
Now, anytime we do something counter to those bad habits, it’s like trying to take down Goliath as David (but we’re stone-less and blindfolded).
Try as we might to change a bad habit, or replace a bad habit with a good habit, we still have the Enemy’s neural network deeply rooted in our brain map territory.
This is essential to understand: you will never entirely rid yourself of your bad habit, nor entirely rid yourself of the desire (no matter how faint) to repeat the bad habit.
No matter how often you repeat a good habit, it will never become fixed and automatic (but it will become easier).
The same principle that allows us to create new habits (the plasticity of the brain) is the same principle that allows old habits to strengthen and remain, to some degree, in our brain map territory.
A habit does not mean automatic and thoughtless: a habit is simply muscle memory.
We can choose to strengthen a good habit each day, or we can regress and act on the old, bad habit again (thus strengthening the old neural networks of that bad habit, no matter how many years it’s been dormant).
That’s why the person in Alcoholics Anonymous admits to being an alcoholic, but fights daily to remain sober (and, therefore, fights daily never to resume the old lifestyle, never to repeat the old, bad habit).
The plasticity of the brain is both a blessing and a curse this way.
It’s a blessing because it means we can always, ALWAYS change, no matter how far we’ve fallen, regressed, or deteriorated.
It doesn’t matter if you failed to become the person you wanted to become, or failed to write the book you dreamed of writing, or failed to start the business you envisioned years ago; every single one of these failures is nothing more than a roadblock, obstacle, or setback – none of these failures are hardwired in the brain, nor do they define us.
If we choose, we can create new habits, destroy the deep rooted bad habits, and get to work on instigating our life’s work.
You can, in fact, teach an old dog new tricks.
But only if the old dog WANTS to learn new tricks.
And here’s the curse of plasticity: nothing about creating new habits is easy.
There’s no quick fix. There’s no magic genie waiting to grant your wish at the snap of a finger.
If you continue to perpetuate your old ways, to reinforce your bad habits, the Enemy gets stronger.
The Army of Bad Habits will continue to fight to strengthen their trench lines and gain more brain map territory.
This is a war that lasts an entire lifetime, and it’s a war each and every one of us fights.
Any person looking to create something from scratch, without permission, is entering the warzone.
There are no gifted people without struggles or problems; there are no talented people that create freely and easily. That gifted, talented, and supposedly carefree inventor, designer, writer, entrepreneur, or athlete you see is fictional.
They care – and they fight, just like you and I.
There are no breaks – just our own actions, our own thoughts, and our own work.
Remember, we can break old habits and we can create new habits, no matter how old we are. That’s the beauty of brain plasticity.
But it also means, the longer we wait, the harder that fight becomes.
So pick up arms and start fighting (sit down at your desk and get to work; go to the gym and workout; throw out your processed, junk food and fill your fridge with healthy food; stop avoiding people and start calling people to make sales).
Your life’s work depends on it.
The good thing about instigating is that so few people actually instigate, you’re competition is pretty limited.
This make success (in any venture) possible and way more probable than you might expect.
The bad thing about instigating is that so few people actually instigate, you’re not going to have very much company on your way to the top (or once you reach the top).
The hard part when starting any worthwhile project isn’t the competition – they are few and far between (and often imaginary). The hard part is trying to get there by yourself, because for large parts of the journey, you’re on your own.
The Enemy knows this.
And the Enemy will do everything in its power to break you down and get you to quit.
The Enemy will use fear and uncertainty to cloud your mind and confuse your goals. The Enemy will hit you when you’re weakest – when you haven’t had success in a while – and get you to question yourself (“why am I even doing this?”), critique yourself (“this isn’t good enough”), and ultimately beat yourself (“I can’t do this anymore”).
The Enemy can use these tactics because you’re alone, and it knows that when you’re alone you’re most susceptible to one of the Enemy’s most effective attacks: negative self-talk propaganda.
Negative self-talk propaganda is all the terrible, unproductive, fruitless, worthless, silly things we say to ourselves when we’re building something worthwhile.
The Enemy uses negative self-talk propaganda against us any time we’re doing something courageous.
“In order for there to be courage, of course, there must be risk. It doesn’t take courage to open the refrigerator, because there’s no downside.” [The Icarus Deception]
And fighting alone to create your life’s work is the riskiest thing you can do.
The thing to remember is this:
The Enemy can’t fight (effectively), when we’re engaged in our worthwhile project because it means we’re taking back brain map territory.
“The actions we perform more often, the movements we practice more consistently, and the senses we employ more frequently, begin to control more brain map territory.” [The Art of Instigating]
As long as we're taking back territory, we keep the Enemy at bay.
The key is to know the Enemy will attack us in predictable ways, to anticipate this ahead of time and plan for how we will deal with it, and, when the time comes, to follow through with our plan.
The best way to beat the Enemy’s negative self-talk propaganda isn’t to think happy thoughts.
It’s not to repeat motivational quotes to yourself in the hopes of creating a positive mental attitude.
It’s not even to imagine how good you feel as if you’ve already accomplished your goal in the hopes of attracting the solution to you.
No, none of these will help you beat the Enemy.
The only way to beat the Enemy and overcome negative self-talk propaganda is this:
Get to work.
The negative self-talk propaganda in your head will fade when you sit down to write your next page, build the next part of your business, or initiate your project's next move.
And that's it - that's all there is.
Get to work and you'll beat the Enemy.
Simple, but not easy.
New? Join the Resistance:
We deal with uncertainty, randomness, and luck every day.
Every project we undertake is, by its nature, an uncertain endeavor (because it hasn't been done before – if it had, it would be certain, and there’d be nothing to start).
Uncertainty means we can fail.
But it also means we can succeed – that there is the potential for success infused in every endeavor, right from the start.
If you’re looking to instigate anything, you’re dealing with uncertainty, and therefore with the possibility of failure or success.
If this is the case, what favors one course of action over another? Why do some projects fail and others succeed?
Well, first, they may just be lucky.
There is a very real possibility that good luck or favorable, random chance resulted in the success of an initiative that should have failed, and that bad luck or unfavorable, random chance destroyed a project that deserved success.
And if this is the case, it might follow that everything is random, so better to either never start anything, or start random things often (more dice rolls, better chance of random success).
But this isn't the full story, and this is precisely the type of attitude that leads to failed attempts at instigating.
When we deal with the uncertainty of a new project, yes, we do deal with luck and random chance.
But we can also, through the structure and direction of our work, open ourselves up to favorable, random chance, and avoid unfavorable, random chance.
In a matter of speaking, we can make ourselves lucky.
More importantly, we can instigate projects in a scientific manner that allows for sustainable, long term gains.
We do this through an asymmetry of gains – where the success of a project has large or infinite upside, and the failure of a project has minimal downside.
“By definition chance cannot lead to long term gains (it would no longer be chance); trial and error cannot be unconditionally effective: errors cause planes to crash, buildings to collapse, and knowledge to regress. The beneficial properties need to reside in the type of exposure, that is, the payoff function and not in the "luck" part: there needs to be a significant asymmetry between the gains (as they need to be large) and the errors (small or harmless), and it is from such asymmetry that luck and trial and error can produce results.” [Nassim Taleb]
Before we start our project, we want to set the stage for success by creating asymmetrically beneficial goals.
These are the types of goals we can start, finish, and ship, with little negative downside (i.e. publishing a kindle book; if it doesn’t take off, it only costs us our time), but with very large or infinite upside (i.e. once that kindle book is out there, it could take off and result in thousands of sales).
This allows us to test the waters without drowning if our first attempt isn't a complete success.
As long as we can test safely (and when I say test, I mean shipping a product or project and receiving feedback from the client or consumer), we can continue to test and tweak as necessary.
In essence, we live to fight another day, which allows us to eventually realize our goals.
Too often, people start with grandiose, unstructured plans that require a home run on the first try. And then, if it doesn’t work (and it often doesn't), they go back to the grind that life gives them.
Don’t sabotage your success by relying on random chance to get you through.
Eventually, you’ll break through.
Eventually, you'll get the payoff.
Eventually, you’ll create your life’s work.
But only if you instigate the right way (and instigate continually).