What would happen to your business if the Internet went away?
Or more likely, what happens to your business if you get sick?
Or if someone else pops up and genuinely does what you do, only better and with more money to throw at marketing?
Or you discover that the way you deliver whatever it is you deliver, becomes suddenly and unexpectedly unnecessary or outdated?
Basically, what happens to your bike if you stop pedaling your little tooshie off?
Mad at me for making you think about this stuff?
Good. You should be.
Because you’re probably nowhere near as sustainable as you think you are.
And by sustainable, I am not measuring your Prius-driving/composting prowess. I’m talking about your basic ability to sustain your livelihood.
OK so now that you hate me a little bit for being all realistic and shit, I actually have some really good news.
get HAVE to do everything you have ever wanted to do.
Are you a life coach who has always wanted to be a bank teller and make bathing suits out of Spam? Great. Be all of those things.
Are you a web designer who longs to open a hotel for disabled mice and the people that love them? Excellent. Go.
Are you a copy writer who secretly desires to paint themselves blue and breakdance their way to a hat full of dolla dolla bills? The world needs more of you.
You can do it now. And you should.
Because your income can come from different places. And it needs to. Because what works one minute might not the next. What’s flying high today, could come crashing down tomorrow. Nichifying is like soooo 2011.
So what stops people from doing more than one thing?
Ego. And she’s a total asshole about it.
Somewhere in the last few hundred years, we stopped allowing humans to be truly brilliant. A singular, driven focus has become all the rage. We make college kids pick a major. We get a job doing one thing for years. We aspire to reach the peak of success in our respective industries.
And we do it at our own peril.
Where would we be if DaVinci had been told to just shut up and paint?
Or if the Wright brothers had been told to stick to bicycle-building?
Or if Charles and Rae Eames had stuck to only making chairs?
Or if Einstein got that snazzy mid-level management job at the patent office that he has his eye on?
History cherishes those who have dared to color outside the lines, but the present cherishes those who firmly color within them.
We have reached a tipping point where a significant movement of people are compelled to explore. Grow. Venture onward into the unknown expanse of possibility.
Where disenchantment, sagging economies, and corporations that devalue humanity and reduce it to a commodity is nurturing a generation of humans who are aspiring to find their own way in the world.
Where the letters after your name mean less than the smile on your face.
Where the strength of your word is worth more than the number of Twitter followers you have.
And where those who are daring to do more than just one thing are being held up as leaders, not slackers.
But beyond the fiscal responsibility of approaching your work in the world this way, there’s a huge internal component as well.
See, humans need to satisfy four basic truth areas within themselves to feel happy and fulfilled in their work:
The Simple Solutions: This is the low-hanging fruit. The stuff that comes easily and generates income and financial returns, but may not necessarily light us up. Success in this area increases a sense of security and safety.
The Reaching Challenges: This is the stuff that challenges us. The mental stretches. Successes in this area feed the ego, and our personal sense of accomplishment.
The Heart Center: These are the pet projects. The emotional draws. The pro-bono work. The things that we do because we see a need or simply because doing so makes us feel good. We need to feed the heart so it can support the head.
The Fire: This is the passion. The North Star. The Why. The huge vision. This is the thing that gets you up in the morning, that wakes you in the middle of the night, and that feels like the thing you can talk about until the end of time.
And what’s happening to so many is they are ignoring one or two or three of these things, and are throwing all of their time and attention towards just one or two.
Be we need all four.
We need to be able to set our own personal Fire out in front of us, and feel that it’s possible. And the things that make it feel possible are the care and feeding of the other three areas. We need to feel safe and secure, challenged, and full of love to feel fulfilled. And fulfillment is what gives us the strength and confidence to go after that fire.
So here’s an example:
I had a client this morning come to me totally confused by all the ideas rattling around in her brain, and she was totally convinced that I was going to tell her she need to stop doing something she was doing and focus on just one thing. So first, I asked her to tell me about all the things:
1. She sells some ebooks and workbooks to one narrowish target market area. She likes doing them, and they feel like easy money. But they also bore her a bit, so she procrastinates putting energy into them. This is her Simple Solution.
2. She has some big ideas she wants to pitch to some big companies. This feels scary and a little overwhelming, but could be lucrative and exciting. Success here feeds her ego and is thereby her Reaching Challenge.
3. She feels called to advocate for a health-related cause with a lot of personal meaning. But she resists the idea of making money from this. This is her Heart Center at work.
4. And finally, she is halfway through writing a book. And when she talks about it, the cadence of her voice speeds up. I can tell over the phone that she’s smiling. This is clearly her thing. Her Fire.
But then she tells me how she hasn’t had time to work on the book in months. How she feels behind, because she has been focusing on other things. Stability, security, ease have emerged has higher priorities over the past several months, but that’s feeling like it’s changing for her now, and she feels ready to refocus, but she just doesn’t know how.
See what my client had backwards was not that she needed to do less, but actually, she needed to do more, only do it with a clear sense of intention instead of fear-based necessity.
Your Fire is not the thing you do when you have time, it’s your filter. If you want to make it the center of your world, the ONLY way to do that is to approach the other areas as if they only exist solely to support your passion.
For my client, that meant:
…devoting some time to polishing up her ebook selections because passive income bought her more time to work on her book.
…committing to pursuing larger reaching opportunities with companies in and around the publishing arena, as well as companies that tap her subject matter. This both satisfies her ego AND lays the groundwork for her book project to be well-received.
…writing about her Heart Center calling and looking for ways to utilize lessons from that world as allegories for case studies in her book. Two birds, one stone.
Following your passion is not a single direction. It is not the one thing you MUST do. It’s a direction to point your compass. And if you connect the dots properly, the more you do around that one thing, the sooner you will get it.
Because the future does truly belong to those who diversify.
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