We’re moving away from the tactical and the strategic to talk about something more philosophical...and thus, far...far more important.
Our philosophies dictate our lives...even if we don’t readily define them. They’re the rules by which we conduct ourselves, and the beliefs that govern our thoughts and actions.
I don’t normally talk about philosophy, because I believe it’s every person’s job to create their own meaning and rules for living...it’s not my place to impose my own beliefs on people. But in this context...for the purposes of this mentorship...I’m going to share some of my thinking with you.
I believe there are 3 types of people in this world...but those types are not set in stone. They’re transient, and anyone can become any of them at any time.
The first kind are the strivers.
They are the ones who continuously attempt to move beyond their current place in the world. They take action, try things, defy failure and accept rejection as part of life.
The second kind are the dabblers.
They are the “comfort seekers” of the world. They find a small pocket of comfort in their life and stay there, occasionally reaching out tentatively to mix things up or allay boredom. They aren’t committed, and often draw back to their normal habits at the first sign of resistance, pain, or hardship.
The third kind are the dejected.
Their view on life is negative, defeatist, and harsh. They strive to prove to themselves and the world that everything is just as bad as they think it is. They’ll actively go out of their way to make something fail, even if they think they’re trying to succeed...because in their mind, the battle is lost, and everything is hopeless, so why try anyway?
This might sound pretty stark.
But after serving in the military for 10 years, coaching 1000’s of business owners and training almost 100 new copywriters myself…
I’d say this is mostly accurate.
Sometimes people can be Strivers in one part of their life and Dabblers in another...and still have habits of the Dejected in other parts.
It’s not so much the COMPLETE label...it’s which label you’re currently attributing to your efforts in some area of your life.
There is a “hidden” danger here…
That danger lies in thinking you’re a Striver...while actually being Dejected.
The biggest red flag of being a Dejected Striver is active procrastination.
Sometimes people refer to this as “busy work”. Others call it “putting out fires” or “reactive management”
It all boils down to the same thing: there are activities that you’re avoiding that you know are critical to your success.
There are questions you ask...but are avoiding the answer, or even looking for an answer.
I recently surveyed over 30 “junior” copywriters from a single Facebook group…
And let me tell you something interesting:
If they said they were a “New” copywriter...their #1 problem was ALWAYS “how do I get clients”
But when I dug a little deeper...I found out the truth.
They weren’t even trying to get clients.
They were gathering information to put a bandaid over the REAL problem...which was actually very simple - They were dog-shit terrified of getting a client and failing them.
They had no confidence in their skills, their own ability, or that any client would even pay attention to them.
So they masked that lack of confidence by constantly asking “How do I get clients?”...and then never doing anything with the 1001 answers they got.
This is an example of Active Procrastination
Gathering more information than is necessary to take forward action...that is Active Procrastination.
Trying to find the “best” solution to a problem, rather than picking the first one that sounds moderately effective...that is Active Procrastination.
If you’re asking the same questions to different people over the course of several months...that is Active Procrastination.
And here’s the shitty part…
People spend their entire goddamn lives doing this.
This is the “...lives of quiet desperation...” that Thoreau writes about.
This is the dream killer. The insidious sickness that afflicts people with more Fear than Desire for their dreams.
How do you find out if you’re a Dejected Striver vs. an Actual Striver?
Luckily, there are a few easy tests.
Test #1 - The Einstein Test
Using Albert’s misattributed quote...the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.
This is a time for reflection.
Get out a notebook or notepad, and think back to your actions over the previous week.
What did you do?
Write it all down. Everything you can remember. Put little question marks “?” next to times you don’t remember what you were doing.
Now… write down your #1 problem right now, in the very first words that come into your head.
Don’t try to make it sound better or worse...just write it down.
Now you should have two things…
- A list of activities dating back 1 week.
- Your #1 problem right now.
Take a look at both of those things.
Did you take ANY positive, forward motion towards fixing the problem you wrote down?
If the answer is Yes...good. Dig deeper. Figure out what you did, why it helped you fix your problem. Find the things that made it successful at fixing your problem, and figure out a way to increase the quality or quantity of those actions moving forward.
Odds are, though...you just found out the answer is No.
You did NOT take any positive, forward motion towards fixing your problem.
If you didn’t take any action towards fixing your problem, you’re operating as a Dejected Striver.
You’re doing business work that won’t actually fix your problem.
You’re procrastinating on tasks or activities that will immediately fix your issue.
But what’s deeper...is that you’re probably doing the same procrastinating or ineffective actions over...and over...and over...hoping that something changes.
If you catch yourself in this loop...we need to set up a call, ASAP. PM me on Facebook and we’ll get it in the calendar.
(P.S. Getting coaching is a Positive, Forward Motion activity if you’re not clear on the next steps to take. While i expect a certain amount of autonomy from you guys to solve minor problems...if you’re ever in a spot where you haven’t made forward progress for a week or more...you’re stuck, and you need coaching. Reach out. That’s what you’re here for.)
Test #2 - The Medusa Test
You remember the legend of the Medusa from Greek mythology, right?
A monster lurked in the bowels of a forgotten cave...her upper body that of a beautiful woman, her lower body a giant snake. Her head was covered in venomous vipers rather than hair...and her gaze alone could turn a man or woman into stone in an instant.
This test is kinda like finding the Medusa.
First, you have to have a hunch that you’re Actively Procrastinating on something.
Maybe you haven’t made progress on a project or goal in a while. Maybe you’re feeling anxious and worked up without a specific reason why.
Whatever the reason, you’re probably feeling like you’re wasting time and effort without getting close to your goal.
Now here’s the hard part.
You need to STOP all “Suspected Procrastination Activity”
That means no more Facebook (use this Newsfeed blocker if you need to: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/news-fe...
No more Youtube. No more Twitter. No more “research” on topics you can’t even remember 20 minutes later.
Ok...you’ve stopped. Things haven’t exploded. Your phone is notifying you that someone “liked” something, somewhere...but you’re ignoring it, for now.
You’re going to experience a short period of calm and serenity...followed by immediate anxiety and “FOMO” and “entrepreneurial guilt” around not “working”
Once you start to feel anxious, a couple things are going to happen. You’ll either cave, and go back to the Active Procrastination work...or you’ll start to find other distractions. Food. TV. A book. Sleep. Flighty thoughts. Cleaning the house.
Once the “distraction” period starts, you’ll need to start paying attention.
You’re going to be trying to find stuff to do…But you’re also going to be AVOIDING a very specific activity that you know you have to do.
That thing you’re avoiding...that is your Medusa.
You’re avoiding her gaze, because you are petrified of her.
For most freelancers, their Medusa is Client Outreach...Client work/project work...or working on their own marketing funnel.
For content creators, it’s editing, creating new stuff, or publishing.
Most ROI positive activities are also uncomfortable, threatening, and overly simplistic.
Can you find and email 10 marketing directors for publishers in your niche?
Of course you can. You know the steps involved, you’re not stupid.
You can find their website.
You can google “how to find a person’s email” and get free browser extensions to do it. (Try this one: https://hunter.io/) You can write a cold email...fuck, you’re a COPYWRITER! You write sales emails for a living!
The ACTIVITIES are not hard. They aren’t hidden. They aren’t complicated.
But they are SCARY. And we avoid them.
Sending 10 emails might mean 10 people reject you...and that doesn’t feel good.
But by stopping ALL procrastinating activity...you’re going to confront the Medusa you’ve been avoiding.
That’s Test #2.
How To Reverse The Trend
Nobody wants to stay in a state of “quiet desperation”
If you’ve taken one of the tests above and realized that you’re “stuck”, there are ways to switch IMMEDIATELY, and get on a track of action.
These are good to learn, because as people, we’ll ALWAYS avoid things that scare us. It’s nature.
But having the skills to identify that behavior AND reverse it quickly...that’s powerful.
Method 1 - The 5 second rule
Once you’ve identified an activity that you’re avoiding, you have one choice
:Get started on that activity in the next 5 seconds.
Constraints make you resourceful...so if you’re in the car on the drive home when you have an epiphany that you’re avoiding client outreach, you have 5 seconds to take action.
If you’re in your car, how can you do that?
You can call a past client. Right now. Just call, and if they pick up, chat about their business and what projects they’re working on.
If they don’t pick up, leave a message that you want to connect soon to catch up.
You can start voice recording an email to send to 10 prospects when you get home.
You can record an audio or video for Facebook and post it.
The point is...there is NO excuse for not being able to take action on your biggest activity in the next 5 seconds.And this does several important things…
#1 - It shows you exactly what “imperfect action” looks like.
#2 - It forces you to be resourceful AND honest with yourself.
#3 - It creates momentum. Momentum Murders Fear. Once you start, you can keep going MUCH easier. And the 5 second rule destroys inertia faster than anything I’ve ever seen.
Some of my BEST promotions were done using the 5 second rule.I noticed I was avoiding something important...and immediately took imperfect action on it.
My first Mentorship post in the Cult Of Copy Job Board was a result of the 5 second rule.
My best-selling webinar was a result of the 5 second rule. My clickbank control in the PD space was a 5 second rule creation.
The major point is this: if you do NOT take action in the next 5 seconds on the main activity you are avoiding...YOU ARE STILL AVOIDING IT.
You can come up with BRILLIANT reasons not to take action:
Traffic is busy
I’m about to sit down to dinner
My wife is calling me from the other room
The dog needs to go out
My website isn’t ready
My face isn’t shaved
At the end of the day, the 5 second rule shows you the truth: That you’re too afraid to be RESOURCEFUL and take action on that activity you’re avoiding.
Does this sound harsh?
Because it is. The 5 second rule takes no prisoners. It’s drastic, it’s sometimes painful...but it’s deadly effective at showing you the truth.
Use it when you’re tired of your own bullshit. You’ll know when.
Method 2 - The Copycat
If you’ve felt creatively constipated for a while, or you’re second guessing yourself into analysis paralysis...this method is for you.
This takes 100% of the guesswork and thought from the initial action you take.
Let’s say your #1 biggest problem is “having more qualified client conversations”
You’re struggling to have quality conversations with potential clients on a regular basis about your services.
Cool. We’re clear on the problem. That’s a good sign.
But you’re stuck. You’re aware of the problem, but you haven’t taken action to fix it.
Using “The Copycat” method, we’re going to get a little ‘greyhat’.
You’re going to find a person who already has the solution to your problem...and copy every single thing they do.
Literally “trace around” their business model.
So if you’re struggling to have quality conversations with potential clients on a regular basis...and you see a copywriter who is always talking about all the clients they’re talking to...guess what?
You go to their social profile...you look at their content, their blog, their videos, their friends list, their connections, their posts, their EVERYTHING...and you start copying it.
Do they have a smiley photo as their profile picture? Now you do too.
Do they publish videos every few days? Now you do too. You can even take the content they share, tweak it to your own experience, and post it.
Do they have 5000 friends? Who are they? Now their friends are your friends. Who are their followers? Now their followers are your friends.
What groups are they in? Now you’re in those groups.
What stuff do they read? Now you’re reading that.
The beauty of this method is the lack of anything resembling creative thought.
You’re not engaging your “thinking” brain...you’re engaging your “doing” brain.
And...by DOING...you’ll rapidly realize that you don’t actually WANT to be exactly like this person...but you can be close. And you can ACT...which breaks the cycle of creative constipation and puts you moving forward.
Between the 5 Second Rule and the Copycat...you should never have to struggle with Active Procrastination again.
So, your “homework” for this newsletter is here:
Take the “tests”..find out if you’re an Active Procrastinator.
If you are, employ one of the two methods of rapidly destroying that life of “quiet desperation”...