January 26th, 2017 is this website’s fourth birthday.
Four whole years! If this website was a person it would be walking, talking, and beginning to form its own opinions about the world. It would also pee itself every now and then. I could take this analogy in a lot of different directions, so I’m going to cut it off here.
It’s been a wild ride to say the least. Running this business has simultaneously been one of the most challenging, rewarding, and confronting experiences of my young life.
It’s quite a unique experience to share all of your innermost thoughts on the internet, while people share their innermost thoughts with you on video calls from around the world.
This list could easily be 50 things long… but for the sake of brevity, I’ve narrowed it down to my top four lessons that I’ve learned over the last four years.
Here we go.
1. Always lead with the giving hand
Far and beyond, one of the biggest things that has led me to where I’m at as quickly as I’ve gotten here, is the fact that from day one I have always aimed to lead with the giving hand.
If you haven’t heard this expression before, it essentially means starting with a mindset of generosity.
Case in point, I’ve written over 400 articles and eight books that are sprawled across the internet. I don’t get any revenue from almost all of these things in any direct way (and even my books are priced from $1-10 – aka very inexpensive). So no matter what pain point one of my readers is facing, they can scroll through my more than half a million words that I’ve put across the internet and consume them for little to no money.
Is this an ineffective business model? Maybe. Could I be getting more revenue from my readers? Probably, but I truly don’t care. I care more about having an impact on the world and helping people’s hearts and minds expand than I care about making a killing financially.
By leading with the giving hand, I have attracted (as of January 2017) over a million readers per month and tens of thousands of people who consume my writing on a daily basis. I’m in this for the long haul… and I believe that people can feel the love in my heart through my writing.
People are all quite similar when you get down to it… and they tend to respond to people’s loving, honest, generous intentions.
So whether you’re building a new business, trying to get a raise at work, or you’re fighting with your significant other and not sure how to get unstuck… the answer is always to lead with the giving hand.
Be generous. Be loving. Open your heart and give.
2. Love people where they’re at
Think back to four years ago in your life.
Do you think that any of your beliefs may have slightly shifted since back then? Chances are, yes, they probably have.
Well, it’s the same for me.
Writing online is like publicly publishing your diary for all to see. And there have been countless times where one of my readers will dig deep into the archives, pull up an old piece of writing and ask me if I still believe in something that I said several years ago. And the answer is sometimes ‘no.’
And while the perfectionistic side in me wishes that I could go back and bury some of my old content, I know that the content that I wrote back then is still helping people where they’re at today. Because if I cared enough to answer those questions two/three/four years ago, then it’s highly likely that there are still people around the world who are asking those same questions.
This comes down to loving people where they’re at.
There was a period of a few months this past year where I experienced this dichotomy in my coaching practice.
I only wanted to work with people who were asking me questions that felt new and challenging for me (I’ve known many coaches/therapists/counselors that have gone through similar patches in their work life). That was until I remembered that my job wasn’t to be hopping on calls that exclusively benefited me and my growth… in fact, it was the opposite. My job is to have love and compassion for my clients no matter where they are in their journey.
Which, ultimately, is everyone’s job, all the time… no matter what industry they work in.
3. You can’t control people’s perceptions of you
Try as you might, it’s impossible to control people’s perceptions or opinions of you.
For every message that I get from a reader telling me that one of my articles on suicide or depression literally saved their life, I get an equal number of messages from people telling me that they hate my work and that I should find another career path.
For every ten people who message me to tell me that one of my books helped save their marriage from the brink of divorce, one person starts a dedicated thread on a little corner of the internet where people congregate to talk negatively about me.
And honestly, I’m personally fine with it. I don’t love the part of the equation that means that the person spewing vitriol is hurting (because happy, self-contented people don’t spend hours of their lives writing hate to or about people online)… but if they need to project their pain on to me, I am a willing recipient, and I hope that they find the healing that they need within their lifetime.
One of my favourites quotes about this subject comes from Mark Manson’s book Models, when he says, “You cannot be a life-changing presence to some without being a joke or an embarrassment to others.”
And another awesome quote, coming from my homie Elbert Hubbard. “To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”
Long story short… whatever you do with your time, there will always be someone who thinks that you should stop or change what you’re doing… and that’s just fine. It comes with the territory.
4. Everything in life ebbs and flows
There have been phases of the last four years where I felt deeply and consistently engaged in the flow of my work (both coaching and writing). And there have been phases where I didn’t feel particularly inspired by either one (usually when I had challenging life things going on).
After four years of these peaks and valleys, I’ve allowed myself to realize that my passion is allowed to ebb and flow, just like everything does in life.
While interviewing dozens of happily married long-term couples for my book Keep Her Captivated: Lead Your Relationship To Its Maximum Potential, I recognized a pattern in a lot of what the couples were telling me. In essence, they all said something along the lines of, “You’re not in love all of the time, but you do love them all of the time.”
And just as the ‘in love’ feeling ebbs and flows in a long-term relationship, so to does it fluctuate in your relationship to your career, and to your involvement in exercise, and to the standards that you hold for yourself regarding your self-care.
Life always ebbs and flows. Nothing is static. Emotions are short-lived. Don’t become obsessed with the temporary position of the ocean waves on the shoreline, because it will change in a moment anyways.
What Inspired Me To Write This Post
Three days ago I had the idea to host a private workshop in my new home (so new that it didn’t even have furniture in it yet). My focus was to help seven up and coming writers build out their online businesses through content marketing.
By the end of the night, they were all blown away. They got so much out of it that I thought I would start writing about my personal process more frequently, because if I have value to provide to my self-employed (or soon to be self-employed) readers, then I might as well share that as well as my usual sex and relationship tips.
Are you in the process of starting, growing, or scaling your online business, and you’re looking for a few pointers to take it to the next level? Let’s chat.
And if you enjoyed this post, you’ll likely also love reading:
Dedicated to your success,