Success is good. Focus is good. Until it's bad.
Incredible as it may seem, focus can cause a massive blindspot in our business.
So what's the option? Surely it can't be distraction?
Actually it's a mix of both that's required. Using the concept of “spinning plates”, you can avoid the blind spot of success and the mindlessness of distraction.
Once upon a time in New York's Catskill Mountains lived a man called Rip Van Winkle.
You've probably heard of this story. I heard it when I was a kid. I've kind of forgotten what the story was all about. As the story goes, one autumn day he wants to escape from his wife's nagging so he wonders up the mountain with his dog. He hears his name being called out.
He sees a man with antiquated Dutch clothing. This man is carrying a keg up the mountain; he wants help. They proceed to a hollow in which Rip discovers the source of the noises. There are a group of bearded men who are playing nine pins. Rip doesn't ask how they know his name but they offer him moonshine, which is a kind of whiskey, illicit whiskey, not legal. He decides to drink and then he falls into a deep sleep.
When he wakes up, it's pretty strange. His musket is rotting; it's rusty. His beard is a foot long. His dog is nowhere in sight. He returns to the village and he finds he recognizes no one. His wife has died. His close friends have fallen in a war; they moved away.
This is often what happens in business, especially if you've got a successful business.
You get a blind spot.
You start focusing on what works for you, and then you work at it and you work at it, and it works even better for you. The longer you work at it, and the more successful you get, the more you have a blind spot to everything else.
Now, almost instantly you're wondering where is this going. Focus is supposed to be good, right? If focus brings success, then what's the problem with having the blind spot? There is a downside, and that's what this episode is all about. It's about understanding that you can have focus and you can have success, but that you can also have a blind spot.
In this episode we're going to explore three elements.
- First is the concept of the Rip Van Winkle effect.
- The second is the opposite, which is the danger of not having that focus.
- The third is the solution. How do we solve this problem of focus and not focusing at the same time?
Let's start off with the first, which is understanding the concept of the Rip Va Winkle effect.
If you look around you, you will find that a lot of blogs have shut off their comments. Why have they done this? This is not just little blogs, but big blogs and mega-sized blogs. They've just shut off their comments.
Why is this the case? The obvious reaction is maybe they've decided that they're big enough they don't need the comments, but that's not true. Everyone likes to hear back from their customers. Nothing boosts the ego more than having 50, 70, 100, 200 comments on a single post that you made. Remember, when people comment they also send it off to Facebook and Twitter and every other place.
Why turn off that channel? Why turn off the chance for people to experience your blog at a different level?
The reason is very simple: that group has moved on. When you look at the most of the blogs today, even the really big ones, they have far fewer comments. It's embarrassing, so they have to turn it off.
Same thing with Facebook. At one point in time you could effectively run a business off Facebook. Slowly but surely, that tide is changing. Suddenly you find that Facebook has all these restrictions in place. Suddenly there are too many people looking at your stuff, but not the people that you want, so the tide keeps changing.
If you made a successful out of blogging
Or Facebook or any other medium, then it's very simple for you to focus on that medium and not pay that much attention to everything else, so suddenly someone comes around and says, “Hey, podcasting is a big thing.” You look at them with skepticism because you tried podcasting four or five years ago and now this stuff, whatever you're doing right now, is still working for you, so you get into that moonshine mode. You fall fast asleep, and that becomes your blind spot.
This is true even for us at Psychotactics.
We had a blog going around 2003 before blogs became popular in 2005; we dropped it. We had podcasts going around 2008-2009 before podcasting became popular; we dropped it. We never really stepped onto YouTube or Facebook or Twitter in a big way, or even a small way. The reason why we did that is because we had a blind spot.
We had courses that were filling up super fast. I mean every single course fills up in less than an hour. We've had workshops in New Zealand, in the US, Canada, Netherlands, the UK, and they all fill up almost instantly.
Of course we send out a newsletter weekly.
We've done so since 2002 without missing a single week. We're able to sell products for as little as 9.99 all the way up to $400, $500. When you look at that kind of model, you say, “Well, that's good, isn't it? It's great focus,” and it is.
But the ecosystem is connected.
When we first started out in 2002, if we wrote an article and we published it on another site we'd get 200 subscribers. Yes, for a single article. Then we had the blogs come out and we'd get about 50 to 60 subscribers per article. Recently, with all those comments of the blogs turned off, we probably get 2 or 3. We're talking about really big blogs.
You would think that the really big blogs would drive traffic towards you. It's not true anymore. They've had to relook their strategy; we've had to relook our strategy. Focus is a great thing, but things can change around you and you've got to be watching for what's happening around you.
This takes us to our second part of today, which is chasing everything that is around you.
The opposite of focus is distraction. Most of us are not very good at focus. We are very good at being distracted. Every time someone comes up and says, “Hey, here's a new method,” they just put the word new, improved, and we're off like a bullet. It's almost like the diet syndrome: the South Beach Diet, the paleo diet, the Atkins diet, the Zone diet, every single diet. We think that the next diet is going to solve our problem, but it never does.
It's the same thing for business.
If you get into doing, say, podcasting, then you have to be prepared to enjoy it. You have to be prepared to love what you're doing so that you can do it for the next five years or ten years. When we do our courses, they're very tough. They're very tough for me. They're very demanding for me. When we do our workshops I'm on my feet for three days.
I never sit down. I'm always running around teaching and doing stuff. Even these podcasts, I've already told you before, they take between three to four hours to produce even though they're just 15 minutes or 20 minutes long.
If you want to make a success of anything you're going to have to be willing to be there for the long run
But as we found out, the long run can change over time. It can twist and change, and suddenly blogs are no longer fashionable and Facebook is no longer fashionable. Maybe podcasting will not work out as effectively as it does today. It might still be good. It might not be as effective. To continue reading, download the transcript