The Itch to Create - Part 3: Incorporating Outside Advice

Following up on Part 1 and 2, we’ve got two good tools to see, with clarity:

  1. Why we’re pursuing this idea to create something new. For that, we identified and re-wrote our mental models. We realized the idea is not to build a product to put it on the market, we’re building something to sharpen a skill;
  2. What the end will look like so we can concentrate on just what’s essential and make our idea inevitable. For that, we used a technique called have-done lists, and our list looked like this:
  

Before that conference that’s coming up in a few months, I’ll have: Ensured I only take commitments I can keep Met my commitments Taken care of my family Ensured some revenue Taken care of my health and well-being Met my other commitments … Posted, at least every two weeks, about my progress learning this skill Advanced on ensuring more prosperity Sharpened a skill Understood the subtleties Understood the different angles Tried recreating this idea three different ways Obtained feedback from someone I know that has the skill Obtained some attention Obtained feedback from someone I know that has the skill Shared my progress with this person Obtained some attention from people outside my circles Published updates about it in the wild

But: maybe we’re seeing an incomplete picture. Maybe our idea can be tweaked even more.

Let’s take other people’s advice, and use that to sharpen our purpose and to sharpen our plan.

Advice #1: Go Where Your Customers Are

Although we determined we didn’t want to put a product on the market just yet, that we just want to sharpen a skill through our project, we still have our sights on eventually creating a product.

Alex Hillman writes this, in a tweet thread:

If you are looking for your first clients or customers, start by asking yourself:

Where do they go when they have questions or need help? What resources do they trust? What communities do they belong to?

Then, go there.

But don’t go there to sell.

And further down the thread:

If you only show up when you want something (e.g. their clicks/attention) you lose, but you’d be amazed how quickly you can have people contacting and referring YOU if they see you as a helpful peer and a community regular.

Re-writing our Mental Models

This creates the following reaction in my mind:

Investing in building a product, even if just for sharpening a skill, is a waste of my time. I should instead invest my time at hanging out with people like me, in online communities, and be helpful.

  • Maybe that’s a better use of my time.
  • Maybe I can do both.
  • Maybe I can share about the skill I’m learning in these communities..

Re-writing our Have-Done List

  

Before that conference that’s coming up in a few months, I’ll have: Ensured I only take commitments I can keep Met my commitments Taken care of my family Ensured some revenue Taken care of my health and well-being Met my other commitments … Posted, at least every two weeks, about my progress learning this skill within the communities where people like me congregate Advanced on ensuring more prosperity Sharpened a skill Understood the subtleties Understood the different angles Tried recreating this idea three different ways Obtained feedback from people I know that have the skill Obtained some attention Obtained feedback from people I know that have the skill Shared my progress with these people Obtained some attention from people outside my circles Published updates about it in the wild

Advice #2: Do Something that Scares You a Little Bit

Seth Godin published two books that help us determine what’s worth pursuing.

In The Dip, he wrote how to distinguish between ideas that are worth quitting, and those worth keeping. In short, “dips” (it will get worse before it gets way better) are worth crossing, and dead-ends (no matter how hard you try, it won’t budge) are worth quitting.

In Linchpin, he wrote about “The Resistance”, Steven Pressfield’s concept that when we find an idea that is important to us, we tend to be scared of it. Learning to see our “lizard brain” being scared, and “dancing with our fear”, lets us spot the ideas that are worth pursuing.

Re-writing our Mental Models

My idea doesn’t scare me that much. I think I’m avoiding something more important, and wanting to sharpen a skill is a distraction.

  • Maybe.
  • Actually, I’m scared of putting myself out there, showing I’m learning a new skill, appearing like a novice.

That’s really interesting. Even more reason to publish my progress publicly.

Re-writing our Have-Done List

  

Before that conference that’s coming up in a few months, I’ll have: Ensured I only take commitments I can keep Met my commitments Taken care of my family Ensured some revenue Taken care of my health and well-being Met my other commitments … Posted, at least every two weeks, about my progress learning this skill within the communities where people like me congregate Advanced on ensuring more prosperity Kept the habit of doing things that are a little bit scary, but important Published about what I'm learning even if it makes me look like a novice Sharpened a skill Understood the subtleties Understood the different angles Tried recreating this idea three different ways Obtained feedback from people I know that have the skill Obtained some attention Obtained feedback from people I know that have the skill Shared my progress with these people Obtained some attention from people outside my circles Published updates about it in the wild

Advice #3: Winner-Take-All Market or Open Doors

In So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Cal Newport writes that there are two types of markets for a product or for a skill:

  • Winner-Take-All markets favour a single winner. All the spoils go to the one that is recognized as the best in the community.
  • Open Doors markets favour connections. Those with a wide array of skills, connections, and a network of trust, fair better in those markets.

Re-writing our Mental Models

Unless I become the best at that skill I’m learning, I won’t get any attention

  • Maybe I’m not learning that skill to be the best. Maybe I’m learning that skill to practice learning skills in public, which is useful regarless what type of market I’m in.

Re-writing our Have-Done List

  

Before that conference that’s coming up in a few months, I’ll have: Ensured I only take commitments I can keep Met my commitments Taken care of my family Ensured some revenue Taken care of my health and well-being Met my other commitments … Posted, at least every two weeks, about my progress learning this skill within the communities where people like me congregate Advanced on ensuring more prosperity Kept the habit of doing things that are a little bit scary, but important Published about what I’m learning even if it makes me look like a novice Advanced in creating a habit of sharpening skills in public Sharpened a skill Understood the subtleties Understood the different angles Tried recreating this idea three different ways Obtained feedback from people I know that have the skill Obtained some attention Obtained feedback from people I know that have the skill Shared my progress with these people Obtained some attention from people outside my circles Published updates about it in the wild


Actively seeking outside advice to refine our mental models and our vision, that’s a habit that pays off. We get, in the end, a sharper view into our real motivations, and that gives us a better chance of making our idea inevitable.

Stay Sharp!



@pascallaliberte

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