There’s obviously only so much I can cover this short film, so I’m going to stick to some primary bullet points, as a sort of a guideline.
Number one will be vision. More often times than not, a lot of folks will get derailed by the hardship of what it takes to achieve anything. And one of the best ways to overcome those hardships is to be very clear with your vision. If you know where you want to go, if you know what you want to achieve, then everything that you do becomes a lot more easy to manage, and in a lot of cases, even fun because it is fun to achieve things. It’s something that’s very important to set off in the very beginning. Imagine who you want to be, what you want to do, what you want to have, what do you want to have accomplished? How can you answer those questions? Who do you want to be, what do you want to have, what do you want to have achieved by, say, a year from now? And really visualize that thing, write it down, put it up somewhere where you can see it. For some of my clients, I even encourage folks to create a vision board because some of us are visual, and respond better to images. And so it’s really important to hold that vision.
Now of course there are cynical people out there who don’t believe in these practices, don’t believe in visioning. I feel sorry for them because creating a grand vision is something that you have to do whether you’re a company of one or you’re a company of 1,000 or you’re a company of 100,000. No one who wants to achieve anything, does so by accident. You have to visualize it, you have to see it. Ultimately that vision is something that is congruent to your values, and your code of ethics. That is what creates company culture, and that is how you inspire yourself and everybody else to partake in the mission.
If you don’t have a vision, then it’s going to be easy to look at the regular hardships of day-to-day life, and you will get derailed. Because in those instances, you’re only looking at what’s right in front of you rather than what could be achieved. You’re only looking at what already exists rather than what you can make exist. This is why vision is highly, highly, highly critical. It’s what will continue to keep the work fun and manageable. It gives you a reason to continue. Without the vision, you’re doomed.
So first step, create a clear, highly articulated, very compelling vision: What do you want to achieve?
Next on the list, fear management. Most times when people don’t get to achieving anything, it’s because their ego gets in the way. They are too busy imagining all the worse case scenarios. I say, what’s the best that can happen? We have to put on our optimist goggles. Of course, this is another thing that cynical people hate. They say, “Well I’m a realist.” And I say, “You’re not really a realist if you’re a pessimist. You’ve just acclimated to absorbing a lot of negative information so now you think that’s your reality.” But in truth, there are equally many good things happening in the world, as there are bad things. There are equally many powerful things about yourself as there are weaknesses.
And the more we acknowledge our ability to survive in this world, the more we will be able to manage our fears better. So put on your optimist goggles, recognize that it’s not about vaporizing your fear, it’s more about managing your fear, acknowledging your fear, and moving on anyways. The truth is everybody’s scared. Everybody is scared of something. You’re not alone in that journey. Recognize your fear, and ask yourself, what’s the best that can happen? Because more often times than not, the thing that we’re risking is mostly ego. And if you put your ego down a little bit, you stand to achieve a lot more than what your ego is trying to protect you from. Manage your fear, learn to step out of yourself in little increments in the day-to-day so that one day when the big thing calls you, when the big thing presents itself to you, you will be more prepared to actually say yes to that thing. A lot of times people say, I want a million dollars, but you got to be prepared to say yes to a million dollars, and you do that by setting yourself up in smaller increments in the day-to-day to be able to say yes to other opportunities that aren’t million dollar opportunities, yet, but you’ll be working yourself up to it.
Burn The Ships
Next thing I would say when it comes to determination towards achieving your goals, you have to be prepared to burn the ships. In 2012 or at the end of 2012 rather, I’m going to share with you this little story; Art of Hustle had been running for two years, but I was still very unclear and uncertain about what to do next, and I knew that I didn’t want to be an unpaid blogger for the rest of my life. It was very time consuming, and I needed to be compensated for it, not just do it as a hobby because I have lots of hobbies. This was one that I really wanted to make sure turned into a legitimate enterprise. A sustainable one, a viable one, a successful one, a growing one, a thriving one. The end of 2012, I said, “This is it, I’ve been doing this for two years, I can’t just be volunteering for this thing anymore. I have to up the ante so to speak.”
So up until that point, I had done everything on the cheap, I was very economical with how I started the project, as I feel everybody should be. When you’re prototyping something, go on the cheap in the beginning because it’s just an experiment, you don’t know what’s going to work or not work. Just rapid prototype like crazy.
Then after some point when you see it’s starting to catch a little bit of air, you need to start throwing down a little bit more significantly, and that’s what I did at the end of 2012. I told myself 2013 is my year. I will burn the ships. And as the allegory goes, a general who is going to battle with one of his enemies sails his ships and all of his men to his enemy’s shores. He commands his men to burn the ships shortly after they arrive, and basically by that, he meant, we will be victorious today because we do not a retreat plan. If we are not victorious, we must be willing to die right here, and now on these shores. That’s a big metaphor, you shouldn’t literally die.
But you should be willing to go all in on your vision once you feel like you’re ready to do so. So for me, that meant revamping my website, and finally hiring a team of people that were way more qualified than me to make a nice looking website. That was one of the things; that’s not going to be the thing for you necessarily, but it may be. So up until that point, that was the most money I had ever spent on the business was revamping the website. And it was totally worth it. The other thing I did was I hired my own business coach. Yes, I am a business coach, but I hired my own business coach, and I told myself, “I’m going to pay this highly qualified individual to tell me what to do, and I will not argue with this person. I’m not paying this person this much money so I can argue with them about their advice or tactics.” I said to myself, “Whatever they tell me to do, I will do everything.” That way I will not have any excuses for having failed. If I did everything, and it still didn’t work, it just meant that the coaching program I participated in wasn’t a fit or that my business was legitimately not a viable enterprise. So it’s about going all in, and that’s exactly what I did with my time, my effort, my money.
Now let me tell you something that I haven’t shared yet before. So from 2010 to 2012, Art of Hustle was just sort of a hobby. I hadn’t really figured out how to make it profitable. In 2013, I created a legitimate salary, I was making money and I was living off of it. I was able to eat from it. It was not a lot of money, but it was pretty darn good.
In the next year, I’m happy to announce, which was 2014, I doubled the revenue of the business. That is the power of what can happen when you go all in on your business. It means making pretty smart investments, not gambling; really going all in at some point, and saying, “Well if this is the thing I love, I am going to prove it to myself. If this thing is a real thing, if it’s really that valuable, if it can really take off, well then let’s prove it. Let’s go ahead, and set a deadline for it.”
And I told myself if at the end of 2013 this project is not viable, I will have to practice the discipline enough to quit. That’s what I said. You guys have no idea how close I’ve come to quitting because I haven’t announced it up until now. But that’s what happened. And at the end of 2013, I told myself, if this thing isn’t profitable, I’m just leaving because I can no longer to continue to expend this much energy and not get anything in return. Once I committed to that vision and I burned the ships, it actually happened. So the universe has a way of rewarding you once you go all in on investing on yourself, investing on your education, investing in your business. It could be a super powerful tool.
The Invisible Asterisk
And probably the last thing I didn’t write in the my little pad here, the fourth invisible bullet or asterisk rather, is that all these things that I just mentioned, vision, fear of management, burn the ships, they’re all in your head. Most of the time when people get defeated, they get defeated in their mind before they ever get defeated in the real world. So it’s really important to have mental fortitude no matter what you do. And these things that I just described to you will help you further develop your mental fortitude. Go all in mentally, and with your heart, and spiritually first. And then my philosophy is if I fail, it will be because I was beat down but not because I shrank away from the opportunity.
I wish you all to also share in that philosophy. That is the Art of Hustle after all. Mental fortitude first, and then skill building second, and then results will naturally happen next. I hope those tips, however brief, have been inspiring and informative to you. Thank you participating in Art of Hustle whether through the website or the coaching service or in your own version of practicing it wherever you are in the world. Bless you all. Stay strong, stay tough, and we’re in this together. Rock, rock on.
It may also be appropriate to mention that it’s a casual day at the office here, hence the very chill, laid back gear for the camera. How appropriate that I happen to be wearing one of favorite shirts, which relates also to the topic of the day, “Be the Change, Sucka”. Don’t just talk about it, be about it.
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