We understand history based on where we are in the progression of the story. Most tales of entrepreneurs overcoming massive adversity are not told mid-story. There’s a good reason for this. If an entrepreneur came to you and told their story about how their manufacturer went belly up and their business partner over leveraged the business without partner approval, you wouldn’t be amazed and inspired. Because that story isn’t over yet. That person hasn’t reached the climax of the story where they overcome. 

It’s hard to know where a person is in their story if they haven’t overcome the major obstacle yet. So many people quit halfway. So one person’s failure might be the end of their story if they choose to walk away, while another person’s failure is a springboard to success as they receive and process the feedback of their failed attempt. 

But we love the stories of the overcomer. The winner. The person who bootstrapped and now sells a million plus each year. That’s amazing. We feel we can endure because of these people. Because of their stories. 

It’s why I hate sharing my own story when asked. I haven’t reached that point that will inspire and encourage. And so it sounds like life is just really really hard. I hate whining. When things are tough, you won’t find me savoring that “woe is me” attitude that’s made so many confessional and mommy bloggers famous. No matter how much we need to give ourselves grace to fail and be human, I can’t participate in the culture of failure that celebrates our failures and weaknesses and stops there. No, the failures and weaknesses provide us feedback, which we absorb to improve. 

Example: We moved to this property to homestead. I wanted to grow our own food to compliment the spring water feeding our house and land. But the business we owned has been a needy child. It has required more of my time than I anticipated, and the land has never had my full attention. And after three joy and pain-filled years, we no longer have goats. This stage of our business requires all hands on deck, and more flexibility for travel than goats will allow. So I made the painful but practical decision to trade our Nubians to farmers we know and trust. Our girls are well taken care of, and they are part of a much larger herd now. 

That’s sad in a way, because it feels like a setback. My ultimate goal of establishing a comprehensive permaculture design around our “forever home” is now on hold. We are ramping up two business ideas with the full intention of running them both in addition to the business we already have. There’s a legitimate goal we’ve set out to achieve, and achieving it would mean a different story for the rest of our lives. 

But I can’t tell you how we overcame disappointment and adversity to arrive at our dream destination… yet. But I will. Even if the dream changes yet again along the way. 

Some days the words just don’t flow. The well has run dry. The rest of life has a tight grip on your attention.

When you’re not a pro blogger, you blog when you can fit it in. When you can make it work. Not everyone is a full-time blogger. Trust me. When you’ve seen dozens of top notch bloggers burnt to toast and desperate to develop bus’inesses that live independent of content creation, you’re going to adjust your expectations. Writing can still be fun and meaningful without being the one thing you do to earn an income.

But thats not how the plan worked out

It used to feel like an insult that I, the guy who obsessed about blogging and knew all the ins and outs of the industry, was not the pro blogger of the family. Heather took over that role and honed her craft faithfully for years while I worked at small agencies consulting for SEO and social media. And yet I saw myself as a blogger. I talked about WordPress more than anyone else I knew. I was hooked on analytics… waiting for a hint of virality to go hog wild over.But I cast my net too wide and ultimately walked away from blogging for several years while Heather built her business.

I was trying to be someone other than me

It took me a long time to realize that I am a much more casual and spontaneous sort of writer. Some spontaneity can be trained and honed into a well-oiled practice. But the joy of writing and blogging for me has always been sharing from the heart as it comes. There’s not a ton of interest in a guy who does that. At least, not unless he’s built his name and reputation elsewhere. You can inspire a select few with inspirational jargon and introspection. But that kind of style isn’t likely to get any recognition until at least the author has passed. 

I’m no longer writing to be famous. I’m writing because it’s what I do. And that’s the way Daniel go. 

Sometimes we face opportunities that don’t feel like a perfect match. Maybe they require us to be more extroverted than we naturally are. Or they focus on subjects in which we lack expertise. And sometimes they’re just not that interesting.

Sometimes the right choice is to say no to the wrong opportunities. Sometimes the right choice is to say yes to the opportunity because what we really need is to build a history of success and a pattern of facing our fears. Knowing which opportunity it is that confronts us is the real challenge.

I faced this question this year and I labored over the decision for weeks. Truth is, I could see BOTH pros and cons for the opportunity in front of me. Here are some of the benefits to consider:

The Benefits of Saying Yes

  • I am in motion. FINALLY.
  • I am changing my overall approach to life by saying YES.
  • I am developing skills that may open many other doors later.
  • When I win at this opportunity, I will have more confidence for another.

The Benefits of Saying No

  • I don’t take on a burden that kills my quality of life.
  • I develop the muscle of saying no because there are too many options available in life to do them all.
  • I keep my open and available for a better opportunity.
  • I save myself the time wasted heading in the wrong direction.

It’s not always obvious which kind of opportunity you are facing. Sometimes you face options and you can benefit from either choice. But the important thing to note is that you can win if you are aware of the possible pros and cons and you remain flexible. Mental flexibility means you can adapt to new information. It means you are not stuck in a rut of either action or inaction.

Our choices are most largely affected by our intention, our perspective, and our ability to frame the situation within a flexible, adaptable mindset. You can choose an imperfect action because you understand what you have to gain from it, and perhaps inaction has been your greatest fault.

If you’ve never gotten started, doing and doing now is important. Momentum is a skill you can maintain after you choose to fall forward.

I really, really… keep… trying to publish something… ANYTHING… each day.

It’s like being restrained by an invisible muzzle. What did I do to deserve this? I think God’s answer would be something like, “I called you to be a spokesperson, and you keep getting in My way.”

Now, keep in mind that when I really start breaking things down it gets pretty confusing, so keep up.

(more…)

I’m halfway through Module Two of Jeff Walker‘s Product Launch Formula class online. We’re elbow deep in product testing at the Dessinger homestead, and Jeff is helping to frame the launch we will undertake in the very near future.

During one of the first videos of PLF Core, Jeff introduced a chart he called the Entrepreneur’s Hierarchy of Needs. If you’re unfamiliar with the original hierarchy of needs chart by Maslow, it’s structured to show the order of needs which people are driven to satisfy. You don’t attempt to facilitate world peace, for example, when you haven’t had enough food or water to keep you alive. So basic survival comes first, and we work our way up from there.

The Entrepreneur’s Hierarchy of Needs looks a little different, but if you’ve ever tried to venture out on your own, I think you might identify with this order.

 

The Entrepreneur's Hierarchy

 

Show Me the Money

When starting a business or launching a product, you start to meet a core need: You gotta make some money. Maybe you lost your day job. Maybe you’re adding children to the family and yesterday’s income doesn’t cut it anymore. Maybe you moved from Fort Worth to Los Angeles and you can’t even afford to eat anymore. Whatever the case, you launch your first product or business to earn money. To stay alive.

You might put in 17 hour days to build that first launch. You might work for 2 years straight with no days off. But eventually, you launch your product and you start making real money. Check.

Redeeming the Time

It’s great to not starve or get kicked out onto the street. So earning money from your own business feels great for quite a while. The sense of accomplishment is palpable. But eventually, the long hours required to maintain the income you’ve acquired takes its toll. There are missed playdates and holidays and family dinners. You realize that if something doesn’t change your children will grow up without knowing you. So you look to redeem your Time.

Some people solve the problem of Time by choosing to earn less. They see how much they can make in their current state of endless frenzy and they decide to make less by working less often. In a best case scenario, this works, and you can eek by on a lower income and get back some of that sanity you surrendered when you started this whole thing.

Seriously, Time is important. Without time, you lose mental bandwidth to process information and think clearly. Without personal time, you miss out on feeling human, which accumulates until your health can become the biggest issue in your life.

So you adapt and change. You start thinking about delegating, hiring employees, and passive income. Your effort shifts from simple but grueling product creation and support to legitimately sustainable offerings.

Relationships

Hopefully you haven’t lost all your friends by the time you get to focus on reestablishing relationships. Children and spouses are usually first, but close personal friends, siblings and parents rank up there too. No one is an island. We each need other people to balance us out, help us connect, and allow us opportunities to care and to give.

Reaching the relationship stage is key for long-term quality of life. Until you have people you can count on, EVERYTHING is harder. And I mean everything. Until you begin building relationships, you’ll have less support, less fulfillment, less feedback, less encouragement, less connection, and less motivation.

Purpose

If all goes relatively well and your business is thriving under your management, you have personal time to feel human, and you feel close to the people you love most, it’s time to address your purpose.

Making money is great, but financial gains rarely satisfy anyone. Having BFFs is also amazing, but friends are people you walk shoulder to shoulder with, toward a common goal. What do you hope to accomplish? Not just in earnings. What mark do you want to make on the world?

Your own personal needs come first. You can’t save someone else if you’re drowning. So you take care of you. Then you take care of others.

Maybe you want to teach younger adults to do what you’ve done only faster. Maybe you want to adopt animals that need to be rescued. Maybe you shape your business into a mechanism that causes social change. Maybe you use your success and reputation to influence CEOs, politicians, or celebrities.

The possibilities are endless. But the entrepreneur isn’t done until he or she is fulfilling a purpose greater than themselves.

Food for thought. Thanks to Jeff Walker for the inspiration. Hopefully you’ll find it useful as you navigate your own path.