“We who cut stones must always be envisioning cathedrals.”

Why Successful Entrepreneurs Often Sacrifice Their Success On The Alter of Novelty

One sunny afternoon myself and a group of friends were walking along a marina near downtown San Diego. Row after row of multi-million dollar yachts sparkling in the sun on our left and the beautiful skyline on our right. Then we come to it, the pearl of the marina. A jet black 60+ foot multi cabin cruiser with a helipad. My friend turns to me and says “10 to 1 odds my buddy knows the owner.” This buddy we happened to be who we’re meeting for lunch, and he was right… He indeed did know who the owner was.

“What’s someone gotta do to get a boat like that!” I asked, and he replied “… oh, he just makes signs.” Granted that’s a pretty broad statement, but I replied: “Wow, that has to be the most boring business I’ve ever heard of.”

His reply stuck with me ever since… “Boring maybe, but often the most boring types of businesses are the most profitable. While everyone’s off trying to start the next Facebook or Google, this guy put his head down and focused on fulfilling a need that isn’t going anywhere soon. Oh, and I’m sure you’d put up with owning a boring business if it got you a boat like that.”

Hard to argue with that.

So why do so many ‘entrepreneurs’ seem to give up a profitable business in pursuit of a more interesting one, or one that speaks more to their passion?

You’ve probably seen it before: Person builds profitable business… After some time passes, person hates business… Person shuts down business to start something they think they’re passionate about. After some time passes, person hates business… Person shuts down the business to start something their passionate about…. Repeat…

If you haven’t experienced this, it seems to be a reasonably common among entrepreneurs. It goes like this: They start a business out of curiosity or necessity, and over time with trial and error actually build something amazing. This amazing thing generates good income, and at first feels like a dream come true, in a big way it is.

Then one day, BAM, it hits them. They’re not happy. They’re not fulfilled anymore because the business isn’t giving them the mental stimulation they used to experience. They keep things rolling because you know, money, however, they start to explore other paths.

The new direction generally is more exciting, and very often riskier. Maybe they started out with a dull “ecom” business selling pillowcases, [True story, had a client generating $100k/mo with that type of business] and now they want to build a company that will finally give them what they really want. Fulfillment.

So they let their business languish slowly dissolving into nothing, or just a shadow of what it used to be, while they go off to pursue their ‘passion.’

This can go two ways…

One: They succeed at their new venture, let’s even say that it performs better than their first. Great news right? We’ll get back to this.

Two: They fail at their passion project, either there really wasn’t a business there, or they couldn’t apply the skills from the first business to the next. This is usually the case on average.

Scenario two is a bummer for sure, but let’s go back to number one for a second. More often than not even if they are successful they’ll eventually find themselves back to that ‘empty’ feeling. They thought the new direction would fix things, but it didn’t address the root problem, and they didn’t account for one rule of human nature that we can’t ignore.

Humans are, by our nature, addicted to novelty.

It’s why if you move to the beach you want the mountains. It’s also often why spouses are unfaithful. It’s why social media is a multibillion-dollar business; it caters to new content every second of the day. It’s part of who we are, and we need to factor it into any decision we make.

We think that starting something new will give us that fulfillment, and for awhile it will. Eventually, though we’ll fall to the novelty lie again, and again, and again.

Before you move from one venture to the next (or one spouse to the next for that matter) it’s best to ask yourself… “Am I doing this because of ‘the lie of novelty?’ Am I only quitting because I desire something new, and not because it’s actually a good decision?”

If the honest answer is that we’re letting “desire” make the decision and not logic we need to take a step back and reevaluate our options and stop the cycle of novelty hunting before it begins.

How do we stop the cycle and find the fulfillment we’re looking for?

Here’s two ways I’ve found that works well for me and many who I’ve worked with over the years.

#1: Find Your Flow. Fulfillment in work isn’t from the end result it’s from mastering the process and getting lost in the commitment to quality of our work.
“The best moments usually occur when a persons body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” – [p.84 Book: Deepwork Csikszentmihalyi]

The flow state (coined by Csikszentmihalyi) is immune to the troubles of novelty because it’s where we find the deepest return on investment for our soul. As an entrepreneur, we should be looking for ways to create ‘flow states’ in our successful ventures. Not just leaving them to waste away because we’re not “feeling it” anymore. Recommended further reading: Deep Work by Cal Newport.

Chances are you lost your flow because you’re focusing more on the output than the work. Do the work, focus on improving your craft, and the work will be it’s own fulfillment.

#2: Means to an End. Why did you start the business to begin with? More money? More time with family? To travel the world? Many completely lose sight of the end game and allow emotions to control their decisions.

Take the time to really think about this. Fulfillment shouldn’t be completely attached to our business or income. That’s a fool’s errand and leads to many bad things, least of which is getting bored.

Having more ‘time’ is a common “means to an end,” but it’s important that we have a plan for that time. Again let’s look at Deep Work – ”We want to work less and spend more time in the hammock, the results from Csikszentmihalyi’s ESM studies reveal that people have this wrong “Ironically, jobs are actually easier to enjoy that free time, because like flow activities they have built-in goals, feedback rules, and challenges, all of which encourage one to become involved in one’s work, to concentrate and lose oneself in it. Free time, on the other hand, is unstructured, and requires much greater effort to be shaped into something that can be enjoyed.”

The point is, we started a business for a reason and we can easily lose sight of it. Or worse, we get so caught up in it that we sacrifice the things we really want.

Income (our business) is a tool. It’s not a life.

You may need to take a long hard look at the gaps in your personal life, to make sure you’re not trying to fill them with your business. Once we have a handle on the “ends” in “means to an ends” the business can serve as our “means” and can drastically modify the way we look at it and set goals around it.

Maybe we don’t need to make as much as we thought to reach our “ends”, maybe that extra 10 hours a week can go a long way towards spending more quality time with our family, at only the cost of giving up a small percent of our income.

Funny thing is when we adjust our priorities a side effect might be that we actually work better, get more done in less time, and find ourselves in that “flow state” more often… leading to a better quality work experience overall.

If you started your business because you’re a naturally curious person, you simply love building new things another alternative is to build systems into our business. This allows us to transform into the “owner” of the business, not the person who runs it. This is a different skillset than starting a business and will be a challenge.

This all isn’t to say you shouldn’t quite an old successful business and start a new one, but examine our real motives is incredibly important. Doing so will go a long way to helping us find real fulfillment.

The grass isn’t greener on the other side. It’s greenest where it’s watered.

P.S. A happy middle ground is a simple rule – start a new business as an experiment, and use your current one to fund it. Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too.

// This post we created in response to a question in our “Motivational” section on Discord – click here to check it out.

The 5 Most Powerful Questions You Can Use to Harness The Positive Thinking (And Avoid The Side Effects)

“Problems are Only Opportunities in Work Clothes”
There’s lots of research showing that positive thinking can improve our lives substantially… However, the TYPE of positive thinking is very important. Simply focusing on mantras or hollow inspirational affirmations has been shown to lower self-esteem and providing the subconscious an excuse for a negative view of one’s self.
You see, our subconscious doesn’t really distinguish imaginative and realistic thoughts, and these thoughts can generate both positive and negative emotions. If we focus entirely on other peoples thoughts (motivational quotes, rhetorical affirmations, etc.)  without taking time to develop our own perspectives on the subject we’re not fully harnessing the power of “positive thinking.” While there’s no question that ruminating in negative emotions can turn toxic, whitewashing your insecurities with positive thinking is merely a temporary fix.
Think about that for a moment, the motivational stuff floating all over social media can actually hold us back from what we’re hoping to achieve!
This isn’t to say these types of quotes and content aren’t a great place to start. Most people just forget to take the next step.
Actually think (meditate) on what it means to you. Meditating, or thinking mindfully, about something is what generates emotions. Those emotions are what can prove powerful to inspire action and change… to get us to do something.

5 Questions that Internalize Positive Stuff.

Here’s two simple steps to meditate without getting too far down the rabbit hole of ‘self-actualization’ that can be associated with meditation.
#1. When you find a quote, article, or piece of content that you find motivational instead of just uttering “ah ha” and moving on, take a moment write about it. Answer the following questions with the goal of generating emotion (positive or negative doesn’t matter)…
a. What about this content did I find motivational?
b. What part of my life does it seem to impact most? c. How could I use this information to improve that area of my life?
d. How would improving that part of my life make myself and those I love feel?
e. What are 3 practical steps I can take regularly to improve that part of my life
Bonus question: If I were to put the quote into my own words, how would I say it?
#2. Share your findings with a loved one and ask for their perspective. This is a powerful step, a lot of people forget that real connections are made with people who have real discussions.
These simple steps will take a fleeting emotional high from a motivational moment and turn it into a deep, subconscious, tool that we can actually use to make positive changes in our lives.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes and my 5 answers to the questions…

“Problems are Only Opportunities in Work Clothes.” – Henry j. Kaiser
a. What about this content did I find motivational?
Sean Vosler – Personally I often to dwell on problems and get anxious without examining the bigger implications behind that problem. If I take a moment and actually think about what caused the problem chances are I could find a powerful solution to avoid the problem in the future, while also possibly helping others avoid it as well. I should always ask “I know I’m not the only one who’s faced this problem before, what have others done to solve it successfully and what can I do to help myself and others avoid it as well.
b. What part of my life does it seem to impact most?
Sean Vosler – Problems unfold in every area of everyone’s life. It’s best that I get a handle on this perspective, and internalize it because it will always be part of life. In my business, I can create tools that solve problems I face and possibly sell them to others. In my relationships, I can always do my best to view a problem as an opportunity to connect with others by solving it together, not resorting to blaming or anger.
c. How could I use this information to improve that area of my life?
Sean Vosler – Currently I can admit I often avoid solving problems because “I can’t be bothered”, but with viewing them as an opportunity I can prioritize fixing things!
d. How would improving that part of my life make myself and those I love feel?
Sean Vosler – Putting off solving problems only makes them worse. It’s not about the glass being half empty or half full, it’s how long you hold onto that glass that matters.
e. What are 3 practical steps I can take regularly to improve that part of my life?
Sean Vosler 1. When faced with a problem take a moment to actually think about the concept of problems as opportunities. 2. Solve problems fast, and do my best to build a system in my life to avoid the problem in the future. 3. Don’t let problems fester, it may go away on its own, but why not just get it out of my head and move on?
P.S. if you haven’t already joined my Facebook Group of awesome entrepreneurs who are working together to create better businesses together – join here! Smart Leverage – by Sean Vosler
P.S.S. For my super nerds who know what Discord is – you can join our exclusive group of nerdy marketing experts here.

Building Trust With Your Audience

This will increase your bottom line more than just about anything.

Posted by Sean Vosler on Monday, May 28, 2018

In this post I’m going to show you how you will rapidly increase your content output without sacrificing QUALITY by answering 3 simple questions.

Ok, I’ll be honest.. that pool does look pretty awesome.
Today it seems most people would rather post pictures of themselves gallivanting around a fancy pool on insta than actually give real-world value to their audience.
While there’s a time and place for humble-bragging, your best bet is to always put quality over quantity if you’re in the business of building a readership who trusts you. We have to remember, trust is earned.
The easiest way to build trust is to provide practical training that the reader can actually use. 👨‍🎨This doesn’t mean you have to strip away all personality from your work, but it does mean you need to prioritize the reader’s needs over your own desire to sound awesome.
How do we create “quality” content?

Here are three simple pieces of the quality content puzzle you can use to test your content.

  1. ASK & ANSWER: What Most People Do: Does your content clearly define what most people (who are experiencing the issue you’re working to solve) are doing”, and why that is wrong?
  2. ASK & ANSWER: Why That’s Wrong: Does your content clearly define the outcome of staying on that wrong path leads to?
  3. ASK & ANSWER: What they should be doing? Does your content clearly define what they should be doing instead to mitigate the issue? I’ll literally put the following on the page of any content I’m making first as a ‘kinda-sorta’ outline.

Super simple outline I start almost every piece of writing with.
It may seem overly simplistic, but simple doesn’t mean easy. Most the content out there simply focuses on “What You Should Do,” without making it clear why.
Why is it important that we demonstrate clearly why something is right or wrong? Well, research has shown that children and adults learn quite differently. As children we are more ‘spongy’, we’ll learn things simply by being told, facts, figures, methods, it’s all a focus on what and less on why. This isn’t to say children can’t benefit from knowing the ‘why’ behind a problem, it’s just less of a priority.
As adults we are bombarded with much more information, and we develop a useful filtering system. If the information is new to us we’ll generally start with the subconscious question “What’s in it for me?” Yes it’s a selfish approach, but that’s the subconscious for you. If you can’t make it crystal clear that listening is a benefit than you’ve already lost the battle for attention.
To win the battle we must give clear cut benefit right at the start, then show them through simple to follow reasoning what they should be doing.
The end result?
If we get their attention, show them why it’s important to change, and then show them the steps to change; there’s a solid chance that we’ll inspire a change in that person. And guess who they’re going to turn to next time they have a problem/question/issue around the subject?

Assuming the advice we give is actually useful we’re going to go to the top of the list. This is why TRUST, is the most valuable part of the tried and true “know, like, trust” formula.

If you trust someone, and they deliver on that trust, they’re certainly going to get to know and like you.

How are you doing this in your work? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. if you haven’t already joined my Facebook Group of awesome entrepreneurs who are working together to create better businesses together – join here!
P.S.S. For my super nerds who know what Discord is – you can join our exclusive group of nerdy marketing experts here.

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