In 2010 I fell into an upsell moment during a residential component of my coaching qualifications; having fallen deeply in love with the power of neuro-linguistic-programming and layering this over substantive coaching frameworks, I decided to hand over my credit card and invest $25,000 in a 5 day Mastermind which promised to accelerate my success once I emerged into a bright new world with all of my newfound coaching qualifications.
It was a formidable room – Private School Principals, Big 4 Consultants, ASX 100 Procurement Directors, Warfare Strategists, Non-Executive Directors, extraordinary Musicians, psychologists, and bankers sitting in amongst people who just wanted to make their world a better place.
Deeply uncomfortable part-way through Day 2, at lunch I raised the fact that it was not what I had been expecting…it was pointed out to me that my business building experience far out stripped that of the facilitator. That made sense to me and I returned to the room with the view I was making great connections, and I only needed to unlock just one thing that would, as promised, accelerate my success.
Until we hit Day 3. And the strategy became about digital lead generation; which is necessary. But it was how we were to devise our business content that left me cold…the instructions were a child’s guide to Google Research, to grab what was trending, and deliberately create content around that trend and then use all the skills at our disposal – digital lead generation, coaching conversations, and NLP – to drive potential customers straight into our new programs.
It was a week which has seared itself into my brain as I watched the room bell-curve itself…everyone fitting into this version of what a lucrative business should be…where exceptional human beings with extraordinary careers cut themselves down to fit into a formulaic business model with no integrity and wrestle mentally and emotionally to try to fit themselves into this newly scripted version of reality.
A systemised approach to a knowledge based business that should never be allowed to see the light of day – especially when you have deep expertise, deep experience, or a deep way of thinking
Because when you are this – someone with depth of experience and expertise who brings value to the world – then you have the foundations to create something which is unequivocally yours; something no-one can strip away from you; something that can create sustainable impact in the infinite game. But you must…
1. Remember to stand on the shoulders of your career
A fundamental mistake made as people exit a career to forge their own path, or choose to make a right hand turn, is they forget they are a fusion of everything that has come before now; that instead of seeing it as an evolution and a next step they are swept up in the belief that they are starting anew. You are not. You are the sum of everything that has brought you to this point, to this decision and you need to remember to stand on the shoulders of your career that has brought you here.
2. Understand what you have the RIGHT to speak to
Where do you have the right to speak, to mentor, to educate, and to advise? Where does your experience, your insights, your ability to rapidly identify the key drivers in a situation to fix, smash or replicate it stand you out ahead of the pack? What is it that you are world class in – even if until this moment only a handful of raving fans know about you? This, THIS is what you have the RIGHT to speak to, to work within.
3. Know what you would fight for
There is a paradox in being clever, curious, and passionate about what we do…we can usually do anything we choose and simply cannot see the damage it does to our future to have an abundance of choice instead of a narrow field of play. Every day, and in every room, I have people explain to me that they do this, and they do this, and they do this, and they can do it for everyone. So I ask what would they fight for? Which one, if I said you can never do that again, would you fight me with everything you have to keep? Then that is the one that means something to you, that matters most to you.
4. Get up close and personal
You need to know who you are and how you work best. How do you best show up and serve the people surrounding you. What environment and rituals give you the best chance of success. Which is the business model that best suits you? Do you need to destroy the current models and create your own. Do you love to explore and create; to research and extrapolate; to systematise, productise, and consult. Do you only come alive in pursuit of the deal. Would you prefer to be given the clear space to create your greatest work. Would you be happy if you never had to leave your house and deal with people in real life again. Do you work best when creating crowd based momentum, or as the most trusted advisor to a handful of people. It is only when you know categorically the answers to these questions that your work, and your clients, can flourish.
5. Realise you cannot sell a secret
No matter who you are, how strong your experience, your expertise, your unique lens on the world, you cannot create sustainable impact if the market does not know you exist. You must understand how to crystallise who you are and the value you bring to the world in a way the world can understand; you must understand the problems you solve at the deepest level; and beyond being able to speak to that you must be able to sell – your capacity to create something that is unequivocally yours is dependant on your ability to capture, keep and then convert attention.
You are unique. You want to create a you-shaped dent in the universe.
And this is what it takes.