Beware of fancy formulas and slick shortcuts

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When I used to teach the Afro-Brazilian martial art of capoeira, new students would come in for their first class and watch the more advanced students doing flying kicks and ariel cartwheels.

“Wow, how long before I can do that?” some would ask.

“Oh, in a few thousand push ups and sit ups,” I would usually reply.

I become one of those over-eager beginners the other night when I was sparring for my belt tip test in mixed martial arts. Our instructor was telling us to develop our vision for seeing holes and gaps in the other person’s defense.

“Do you see that?” he would say to us, as he demonstrated sparring with a student and pointing out what seemed to be obvious drops in defense.

“Yes sir!” we all said, quite smugly, since it was so obvious.

Obvious, that is, until we were the ones sparring. Tried as I might to be one step ahead and see the gaps in my partners’ defense, I was so busy trying not to get pounded in the face that I felt totally blinded to what movement she was going to do next.

Marketing advice

Sometimes, you get advice from an expert that embarrasses you because you should have known better.

“What you need to do immediately is create a high-end mastermind program.”

“If you would have sent a third message in your follow up sequence, you would have closed 32% more sales.”

“If you had an upsale prepared at your live event, you could have made 50% more money from the event.”

Great advice, all of it, when you are ready to hear it.

What trips up new entrepreneurs

The problem for new entrepreneurs is when you try to hold beginner, intermediate and advanced advice in your head at the same time. You have not had enough experience with the basics to have the vision and capacity to deliver the fancy twists and subtle enhancements. If you are not careful, you fall into these patterns that I see every day with my clients:

  • Instead of just writing your ebook, you get worried about the three tiers of affiliates you want to cultivate for it.
  • Instead of getting your sales page ready for your January class, you spend 47 hours reading everything Sonia Simone has ever written about sales letters on Copyblogger.
  • Instead of pitching a talk at your local Rotary Club to promote your personal training business, you attend a high-priced seminar on branding so you can choose the perfect tagline and color for your website.
  • Instead of trying to secure a local sponsor for your first live event, you wonder how to get Richard Branson to Skype in from Necker Island.

Observe the greats

Every great fighter, writer, musician, speaker or expert I have ever known is obsessed by foundational work. I have said it before, and I will say it again:

Writers write.

Coders code.

Speakers speak.

Consultants consult.

One day, as you are quietly  doing a great job on the basics, you will get a flash of insight about how to improve things that will make sense and that you have the capacity to carry out.

I can’t wait for that point in my training when I am three steps ahead of my sparring partner and make her dizzy with my speed and counter attacks.

For now, I am quite satisfied with squats, push ups and basic drills.

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16 Responses to “Beware of fancy formulas and slick shortcuts”

  1. Amanda Higdon says:

    Nice post! Thank you for the excellent reminder. Although we know that there are no shortcuts to success, it seems we can never refuse to accept searching for one. The suggestion is to do hard work, learn from earlier mistakes and try not to repeat the same mistake next time. It reminds me of the motto of Rafe Esquith- author of “There Are No Shortcuts “- that is “work hard, be nice.” Probably after a few dozen of mistakes and improvements, you’ll become an overnight success.

  2. […] From Calling to CreedBy Laurie Foley on December 19, 2011 in Career Last week, I got my proverbial butt kicked when I read Pam Slim’s post on “Beware of fancy formulas and slick shortcuts.” […]

  3. Mani says:

    Brilliant. Thank you. I needed this reminder.

  4. Extreme John says:

    There’s indeed no shortcuts to success. It does not happen over the night and it does not happen by just thinking it out or allowing the distractions to come and get us.

  5. […] Beware of fancy formulas and slick shortcuts. Pam Slim strikes again.  And she knows us so well. Proof in this quote: “Instead of just writing your ebook, you get worried about the three tiers of affiliates you want to cultivate for it. Instead of getting your sales page ready for your January class, you spend 47 hours reading everything Sonia Simone has ever written about sales letters on Copyblogger. Instead of pitching a talk at your local Rotary Club to promote your personal training business, you attend a high-priced seminar on branding so you can choose the perfect tagline and color for your website. Instead of trying to secure a local sponsor for your first live event, you wonder how to get Richard Branson to Skype in from Necker Island.” This post is a good antidote. Be Sociable, Share! Tweet(function() {var s = document.createElement('SCRIPT'), s1 = document.getElementsByTagName('SCRIPT')[0];s.type = 'text/javascript';s.async = true;s.src = 'http://widgets.digg.com/buttons.js';s1.parentNode.insertBefore(s, s1);})(); […]

  6. Thank you, Pam, for the excellent reminder. Writers write. Coaches coach. Being at the beginning of this adventure myself, I’ll focus there. Write. Coach. Create a simple way for my peeps to find me and not get caught up in anyone’s advanced teaching. When I’m ready, I’ll know. Feels right and true.

  7. This is just the perfect reminder.

    I write, and would like to be successful with that- and all I can do right now is WRITE MORE.

    Thanks for this simple and important tip. 🙂

  8. Martha says:

    So frickin’ wise you are… 🙂 Thank you.

  9. Eleanor says:

    Wow. Another home run, Pam.

    It reminds me of something my Dad used to tell me..I can’t remember the details but there was some great Jazz musician that said something to the effect that, first you have to learn the notes, then you practice your scales and then you learn all the classics, then (and only then) you get to the point where you can throw all that stuff out the window and just play some jazz…

    Thanks so much!

  10. Denise Green says:

    Guilty as charged. It’s way too easy to compare myself to others farther ahead. Or, even more likely, to compare myself to some future version of myself. But it feels so nice to be present with where I am and grateful for all that I have learned up to now. I suspect I would get bludgeoned in your class.
    Thanks Pam for another great (albeit annoying) reminder. Denise

  11. Great advice and very useful.
    There is a quote “A caterpillar cannot reach its potential by taking flying lessons BUT only by its development into a butterfly.”- Peter Szabo
    You hit it spot on, as we progress and continue the build the foundation our development into different happen. And if you try to hard (like teaching flying lessons to a caterpillar) no-matter how much that caterpillar wants to fly in cannot.

  12. Your point about needing to be ready for certain kinds of information is so true! Serge and I experience this all the time. We’ve sat through seminars or webinars that left us feeling kind of “meh!” But when we revisit them 6 months or a year later we’re like, yes! This is such great stuff! And the difference is that we’re in a new phase of our business and different types of advice now resonate more.

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  14. Doris says:

    Hi Kristi, that’s so encouraging to me right now as I try and take e-book writing steps in the order they’re supposed to happen. The hours I spent playing with Scrivener are surely an investment into being able to write and organize, umm, faster, umm, once I actually start typing, of course. 😉

  15. Lindsay Diven says:

    Thank you for this motivation. I needed to this pinch to stay focused on what I am really trying to achieve instead of the distractions that are holding me from getting to work!

  16. Kristi Hines says:

    I had the same issue with my eBook – I was hung up in how to launch it, what steps to take, who to contact, how to design the salespage, etc. Then I just wrote the eBook, created a simple page on my blog, emailed my list & wrote a post about it. No fancy launch, but it did well anyway. 🙂

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