Yesterday I posted a podcast to complement this article. The four minute podcast is packed with the best points from this article.
If you don’t have time to read this entire blog post please check out my Manifestos and Mantras Podcast.
In this post I touch on the following topics:
- the difference between manifestos and mantras
- why successful people are successful
- difficulty making decisions
- fear of failure
- role models
- positioning strategy
- public manifestos
Listen while you read –
If you press the play button on the Spotify player you can listen to the music directly on this page. You do not need to open Spotify to hear the music.
What am I doing with my life?
I wake up some days struggling to remember the meaning of my work. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been wasting time. Do you ever feel like this?
I am writing a manifesto for two reasons:
- I need a document to read every morning that reminds me why I’m doing what I do.
- Successful people have a code they live by that gets them from non success to success. If they woke up everyday and were happy with mediocrity, if they were happy watching 6 hours of TV instead of being productive, or if they were happy to submit a first draft and call it a final version…they would not be successful.
A mantra a group of words or formula capable of creating transformation.
A manifesto is a published declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer.
There is a beautiful dinner on the table. Sitting next to the meal is a recipe for the dinner.
Within the recipe are ingredients.
The beautiful dinner = your goals
The recipe = your mantra
The ingredients = your manifesto
In order to understand mantras, manifestos, and why they’re important to your growth I first need to
deconstruct some other ideas. Stay with me. I am (semi) sure everything comes together.
I was born into a Catholic family. CCD. Nuns. The whole shebang. When my parents divorced I was raised by my mother. She has different religious beliefs than my father. Actually, my mother and father have completely different outlooks on life.
It’s always been difficult for me to make decisions in life. Maybe it’s because of my upbringing. Maybe it’s because I’m a Libra. Who knows.
I’m always weighing options, thinking about possible outcomes, and this usually debilitates my process. I spend my time researching the best decision. This usually ends up with never making a decision.
The fear of failure prevents progress. Tweet this
Should I buy the engagement ring? What if she says no? (Don’t worry mom it’s just an example)
Should I go in for the kiss? When is the right time? Who determines when the right time is? What if it ends up being the wrong time? Is there such a thing as the wrong time?
Should the website have a vertical navigation or horizontal navigation? Should the color be blue or orange?
I’m late for the party. I’m driving around. Lost. Should I stop and ask for directions? Yes, of course I should ask for directions. But what if I find the destination right now? I may waste ten minutes stopping at a gas station and they might not even know where I need go.
I help people sell their books. I also love to write. Should I write a book about how to sell books? What if nobody reads it? What if it’s a big waste of time? Do I know proper grammar? What if I don’t use commas the right way?
Follow the leader
I think the strongest factor in my decision process comes from people in my industry who I look up to. They must be doing something right if they have whatever it is I wish I had. Right? They have something that indicates success from my point of view.
Normally, I would play “follow the leader”. Learn everything about a person and follow in their footsteps. Instead of making my own individually unique decisions, I look at what others have done…then I mimic that.
How should I build my website? Well, let me see what XYZ does so I don’t have to come up with my own vision. That’s the easy way to make decisions.
Easy does not equal success. Easy does not pay the bills. Easy definitely is not sexy.
I’ve learned this is a waste of time. If I haven’t innovated an idea into my own creation it’s pretty easy to see who is the established expert and who is the poser. Besides, if someone is looking for my product or service they are likely to find the person I copied the idea from before they find me.
This brings up positioning strategy, but let me talk about individuality first.
I’ve learned not to follow my role model’s every move. I don’t want to end up just like them. That’s boring. Besides, there isn’t room in the world for another Seth Godin or Chris Brogan or James Bond 😉
Do you know what Chris Brogan and Seth Godin have in common? They are the best at being themselves. This can’t be taught. It’s a meta skill. It’s hard to see and impossible to touch. Individuality is out there. I only started to find it when I looked in myself for answers rather than mimic other people’s behavior.
One thing my father said to me growing up, “At some point in your life you have to become responsible for your own actions.” If I follow what someone else does and it ends up being a poor decision I can easily blame it on the person I was following. This excuse may fly as a child. If I don’t become successful there is no one to blame but myself. I can’t say, “Well, Seth Godin told me to do XYZ in his last email.” I’m not Seth Godin!
As a human, you’ve been granted a very special gift. There is no one else in the world like you. Tweet this
You can’t automate individuality. Be the best at being yourself. Nobody else can do it for you. Tweet this
Who are you? What do you do? Who is it for? The positioning strategy for your business, project and individuality should be one sentence. I do XYZ for ABC people.
A positioning strategy is similar to a mantra. It’s your special sauce. It’s how you do what you do for the people you do it for. The more unique the recipe, the more likely you will be the only person who knows the ingredients. If you have a common recipe, let’s say for baking chocolate chip cookies, you’re not going to stand out at all.
Great companies proudly state who they are, what they do, and who they do it for from day one. Why? Without identifying these descriptors of a business it’s impossible to know how to build your website, create content, and market your products. Forget about marketing. You can’t even build the product without knowing exactly who it’s for.
Most companies, and people, get lost on step one and never fully develop a positioning strategy. The excitement of creating a website and Facebook page take over. These companies end up trying to be “everything to everyone’’.
TasteDaily’s positioning strategy is ridiculously awesome daily emails for bold women.
Break it down.
What is it? RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME DAILY EMAILS (not just emails. not just daily emails. not just awesome daily emails. ridiculously awesome daily emails.)
Who is it for: BOLD WOMEN (not just women. bold women. this choice of word is extremely good because it includes women who consider themselves bold and it motivates women who are not bold to subscribe for the list so they can become bold.)
In the welcome email you get the TasteDaily Move Forward Mantra. It sets the stage for who the company is, the exact type of emails you can expect to receive, and let’s you know you’re in good hands.
Declaring who we are and what we stand for is so hard. Scary, in fact. What if I turn away some customers by saying I only do “this” and not “that”?
By now there is so much noise on the internet you don’t want to try to please everyone. There are a million other companies trying to do that.
I’m building a product for people to self-publish their knowledge, create online learning centers, and become financially independent on their own time. I am also a designer and a business developer and a marketer. I constantly catch myself trying to include all these other skills into my new project. I try to be everything to everyone. In the process, I end up turning away the very customer that I wanted to attract to begin with.
Be the best at one thing rather than average at many things. Tweet this
Utilize the thumbprint
How do I become someone that others look up to?
Utilize the thumbprint I was born with. The thumbprint that no one else in the world will ever have. The hard part is finding the strength to actually put something out into the world. Open to criticism, judgement, praise, and financial opportunity.
There might not be room for another Seth Godin, but do you know who there is room for? A Daniel D’Alonzo. Do you know how powerful that makes you and I as individuals? I don’t have to worry about being in anyone’s shadow or relying on anyone else for success (or failure). The power is in my hands. At my fingertips.
Transitioning to this state of mind has been a game-changer. It shifts my defeating thoughts of “I’ll never be like XYZ.”
That’s right. I will never be like them. Thinking I am supposed to will only defeat the small chance I have at becoming my own individually unique person.
I thought I knew but I had no idea
When I read famous blogs now versus a few weeks ago they take on completely new meanings. I thought I understood what Seth Godin and Chris Brogan and Nicole D’Alonzo were saying three years ago. But the power of these blogs does not lie in the front lines of text. The real power is by watching someone take a leap into the world and say, “Here I am. This is what I know. This is how I feel. Love me for who I am or leave me for who I am not.”
The sand is harder to walk in when you don’t have footprints to follow. But at least the tracks are mine. Tweet this
If you’re still with me let’s talk about how to take action.
Something happens when I write my intentions and motivations on paper. My behavior is snapped inline to achieve my goals.
I’ve tried to keep track of goals in my head. I tell myself I’m going to change the way I eat. A month goes by and I haven’t changed anything.
This has two problems: (1) I’m the only person who knows about it, (2) my mood changes from day to day based on different experiences.
What if I write a blog post about it, tell all my co-workers, friends and family that I’m changing the way I eat? I hold myself accountable by telling other people about my goal.
Building a manifesto has helped me be less reactive and impulsive. I’m not as impulsive to start a new project or stray from the path I’m on.
Several times during the writing process for my upcoming book I woke up feeling like a lost soul. “What am I doing with my life?” I would be so motivated to write some days. Other days…not so much. Writer’s block?
It’s not that I had nothing to write – it’s that I didn’t believe in myself enough to take the chance. “What if all this work ends up being for nothing?”
I want my ideas to change the lives of people that use them. I want to wake up everyday and work on making things better. Not just any things. Ideas. Processes. I’ve found that people don’t become successful at their passion – they become successful at creating processes they are passionate about.
The next time I wake up in the morning and can’t figure out why I’m doing whatever it is I’m doing, I will refer to my mantra and working manifesto.
Money can’t buy happiness…but if you earn the money yourself it probably means you’re already happy. Tweet this
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Not only will it force me to follow my own manifesto and reach the finish lines of life, but also so I know that you care about the message. If not, no worries. I still love you with all my heart and hope you’ll come back for my next post 🙂