Went to South by South West. This is my obligatory “What I learned at Internet spring break” post blah blah blah… Let’s get to the good stuff.
SXSW made me realize that almost everything we know about goal setting and communication is wrong. Big time. Here’s why:
Meeting people face to face rocks my world. I can’t escape the fact that this Internet schtick doesn’t come naturally to me – I’m an offline man living in an online world. What really grinds my gears is the years (literally years) I spent honing my skills in what NLPers describe as “calibration” and “rapport”.
Basically, I taught myself to pay very careful attention to people’s physiology and it’s meaning. On the Internet, this skill is about as useful as a chocolate kettle. So, when Internet folks get together in the real world, I finally got to use it. At SXSW, I noticed something incredible.
I can’t claim total credit for figuring this out on my own. The concept I’m about to share with you initially came up in discussion with either Adam, Jeff, Marla, Dave or Taylor. I can’t remember who voiced it first (funny that) – but all those folks are ultra smart and don’t need my praise anyway.
The point is:
Telling people about your next big idea robs you of motivation.
What?! Surely not! Surely every experience you’ve ever had indicates that this is patently false. What about sharing goals to create expectations, social pressure and accountability?
Right. When you tell someone you’re gonna do something, something big… You don’t want to look like an idiot. You don’t want to let them down. This creates motivational leverage right? Sure. Sort of. Maybe.
The truth is, sharing your big dreams with us is doing far more harm than good.
Sharing your next big idea is practically orgasmic.
Your eyes sparkle. Your heart flutters. All manner of happy chemicals flood your brain.
Such conversations can light your fire, inspiring you with new nuances for your vision. Even just a smattering of approval from whoever you’re talking to will feel like liquid gold, bathing your ears (and ego) in effervescent sparkles.
Then what happens? To continue the organism metaphor longer than is probably sensible….
You peak. Then, you sit back practically panting. You light a cigarette. You bask in the afterglow and consider a nap. You want to “rest your eyes” for a few minutes.
You might do a lot of things after an idea orgasm. Execution is not one of them.
When you share you big vision conversationally, something interesting is happening in your mind. You’re making vivid mental images of a bright, shiny future. In the theatre of your mind, you can see, hear and even feel success as your idea comes to fruition.
That’s the cause of the massive endorphin rush. The unconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between imagined mental imagery versus real, external reality. It thinks the topic of your conversation is real and rewards your brain chemistry accordingly.
Want evidence that your unconscious thinks internal reality is as real as external? Try this quick mental exercise:
Think of a fresh lemon. Conjure up an image of it in your mind. Notice the shiny, dimpled skin and imagine a sharp knife slicing deftly through the center of it. See the micro spray of tangy droplets from the knife’s pressure. Smell the scent of the peel, releasing its aromatic oil into the air.
Are you salivating yet?
Your unconscious mind doesn’t know that the lemon isn’t real. It’s literally preparing your mouth for an acidic assault by coating your tongue in saliva. You saliva glands (like endorphins and most body functions) are entirely regulated by your unconscious mind.
When you tell someone about your next big idea, the mental process of visualizing future success convinces your unconscious mind that it’s already happened. It doesn’t fill your body with pre-victory anxiety… It fills it with post-win celebration!
Telling someone about your big idea is almost as emotional rewarding as achieving it!
The worst part? It can become an addiction.
When the emotional high of sharing your plan inevitably fades, you start seeking that positive feeling again. Which is easier? Actually executing… Or just finding someone new to talk to?
South by South West exposed me to huge numbers of eager entrepreneurs, busy hustling, talking about their huge plans. My body language observation revealed idea orgasm occurring all around me, pretty much 24/7.
The people who have a track record of executing huge things and turning hustle into results acted a little differently. People I met like Dave Navaro, Johnny Truant, Jonathan Fields and Brian Clark all did something different.
They play their cards close. They were cryptic. None of the pros were really talking business and none of them wanted to.
Maybe they were just sick of having the same conversations over and over. Or maybe, they intuitively know that sharing their plans only creates mental faux-victories. Instead of real achievement.
We’re all guilty of this idea-sharing mistake. I did it when I published my plans for my revolutionary quest – although, I haven’t shared any actual details on what’s happening in that space. I’ll wait until I have something superb to actually show you.
I’ve got a radical suggestion. It’s going to be damn tough for you, if you’re stuck in an addictive cycle of indiscriminate idea sharing. It’ll be hard, but think you should try to follow this advice anyway. I guarantee a thirty day trial of this will transform your life.
Are you ready for this? Here goes…
Simply say: “Oh, just you wait…”
Don’t tell us what you’re planning on doing. Don’t share one detail! Not even for the sake of accountability. Instead, say absolutely nothing. If you must speak, just let us know that we should wait and see.
Here’s what’ll happen…
You will buy yourself a very, very brief window of opportunity. Intelligent people will keep an eye on you for a few short weeks or months. They’ll wait and see.
If you get your shit together and actually execute something impressive, you’ll be welcomed into the inner circle of people who walk instead of talk. You’ll come “out of nowhere” and blow people away. Folks will say things like “I knew you were cooking up something!”
(In reality, they didn’t know shit… But they’re happy for you all the same.)
If you fail to ship anything, people will simply forget about you. That might sound bad, but the alternative (which most people are stuck doing) is much worse.
When you blather about your grand designs to everyone you meet, you might be able to create some excitement. Good ideas are still respected! However, if you don’t execute right away, people will remember. Folks will think “what ever happened to that guy with the idea for the supersonic bread slicer?”
They’ll remember your wide-eyed idea sharing. They’ll nod and smile. People who’ve read this post will know exactly what kind of person you are. People who haven’t? They’ll still know but maybe they won’t put words around it.
Telling everyone your goals puts healthy pressure on you to achieve them, yes. NOT telling people what you’re planning creates even more healthy pressure. Plus, when you go out and execute you get to look like you came out of nowhere and exploded onto the market.
This may be the best and most ruthless business advice I’ve ever written:
Shut the **** up and go DO something. Make it something worth other people talking about.
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