Want Success? Create More Than You Consume

What do all successful people have in common? They’re creators. They may create art, code, food, fashion, content, video, music, jobs… Whatever it is, they create. They give value back to world – to the market, to their customers and fans, to their industry. They give more than they take.

Creation is the price of entry

If you want to succeed, to be noticed, to attract customers, to sell your product or to build a community, you need to create something. You need to up your “value quotient”. Get out of the mindset of constantly consuming and join the other team: start creating your own content and put it out into the world.

How to shift from consumer to producer

  1. You have all the tools you need. There’s no reason to delay. You can start creating right where you are. You probably have a laptop, phone and internet connection. That’s enough to start putting your stuff out there. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s never been easier to reach or build a fan base. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest… you can put your creation in front of billions of people. Stop and think about how amazing that is. Not too long ago, you had to be a powerful corporation with deep pockets to create content and put it out there for the public to consume. Now, if you have a device and internet connection, you can reach an audience who loves what you’re doing. There has never been a better time to be a producer.
  2. You don’t need more information. This is a common delay tactic: there’s always another book to read, a website to research, another course to take. No. You don’t need to learn more, you need to act more. Successful people are successful because they do the things the vast majority of people won’t do, i.e. take action. If you know more than the people you’re teaching, that’s enough. If you have an artistic vision, that’s enough. If you have an outline for a book, that’s enough. Get started. Only after you have something to show for your efforts can you refine it with new information.
  3. Overcome procrastination. If you want to overcome procrastination, here are two approaches that work well: (i) set a timer and work for five minutes. After five minutes, stop or carry on, it’s up to you, or (ii) check out The Now Habit by Dr Neil Fiore. Basically, Fiore advises blocking out all the time in your week that is taken up by other commitments including leisure. You are then left with a calendar of free spaces where you work. The approach works because it does not deny you leisure time and it’s a powerful visual cue that you don’t have as much time in a week as you think. You come to appreciate time more and make the most of it.
  4. Fight perfectionism. Not everything you create is going to be a home run. In fact, some of it is going to plain suck and may be embarrassing. So what? You can throw it away, not publish it, draw a lesson from it and try again. The victory is actually seeing through from idea to final result. Being a prolific producer means you’re going to have a few duds. The important thing is that you’re doing what the vast majority of people won’t do – you’re creating stuff. If it’s not great, try again – that’s what practice is for. Perfectionism is fear masquerading as an admirable trait and must be resisted.
  5. Overcome your fear of being judged or rejected. These things are beyond your control. If they trigger powerful emotional responses  in you – embarrassment, anger, hurt, surrender, disillusionment – you need to put things in perspective:
    1. Your creation is not for everyone. If, say, a person likes Queen but not The Rolling Stones, does that negate The Rolling Stones? No, that’s clearly ridiculous. Your job is not to force people to accept your creation but to find those who will appreciate it.
    2. Use it as feedback. For every constructive criticism, find the nugget of gold. Treat it as feedback to help you improve. Quite often, people who reject your creation are genuinely helpful and want you to succeed. They can give you valuable, unbiased feedback and help you improve. (If you find reading comments/feedback too demoralising, hire someone to manage and do it for you. Ask them to summaries and report any constructive criticism back to you).
    3. What other people think of you is none of your business. People are entitled to their opinions. Let people think and say what they will, stay away from it all, and continue to create.
    4. You are more than what you create. Don’t confuse who you are with what you create. It’s just a part of you. Live a full and balanced life. Have friends, have hobbies, go on holidays and dates. Don’t equate your offer with your self-worth.
    5. Saying “no” is the easiest thing to do. Often, people say “no” because it’s just the easiest response. They don’t have to think, they don’t have to take a risk. It’s a reflex reaction. In this case, questions such as “Why doesn’t it meet your expectations?” or “How can I improve on this?” are valuable and will often help break the ice, uncover true reasons and may even reset the communication allowing you start afresh.
    6. Rejection is part of the creative process. If you put yourself out there, you’re going to get rejected. But you’re also going to encounter people and opportunities that will take your life in a whole new, positive direction. A momentary emotional sting is a small price to pay to explore a world of opportunity.
  6. Stop seeking permission to create stuff. You’re not a child anymore. If you want to go out, go out. If you want to wear something, wear it. If you want to create, then create. You don’t need permission from parents, spouses, friends, colleagues, employers. You don’t need a piece of paper to say you’re qualified. You don’t need a particular education, special contacts or to come from the right side of the tracks. You can stop reading this right now and start making stuff. Isn’t that incredible?

Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. ~ Steve Jobs

  1. Remember the Rule of Thirds. Not the photographic rule but the one that says a third of people will love what you do; a third will hate what you do; and a third won’t care. In other words, nearly 7 out of 10 people won’t like anything you create. 7 out of 10! That may sound harsh but it should be comforting, i.e. if you’re meeting a lot of resistance or negativity, you’re right on course to succeed.
  2. Change what success means. If your definition of success is to create something that people will flock to, love and tell others about, you’re setting yourself up for a fall. Of course, it’s great if your creation received that reception but it’s the exception rather than the rule. Instead of chasing approval, change your parameters of success. Define success as:
    • Taking action;
    • Finishing what you start;
    • “Shipping” your creation – getting it out into the world;
    • Getting feedback;
    • Being prolific.
  3. Realise that one day there will be no more tomorrows. Time flies. There will come a time when it’s too late to start a new project or to finally bite the bullet and do the thing you’re afraid to do. Roll up your sleeves, take a deep breath, appreciate the journey and start to bring out the idea in you.

Takeaway points

  1. If you want to experience more success in your life, create more than you consume. Become a prolific producer of value.
  2. The fact that you’re creating is more important than how your creation is received. You can always improve – that’s what practice is for.
  3. Most people (about 70%) won’t like or care what you do and that’s normal.

Action steps

  1. Start working on your creation for five minutes. No more research, no more getting organised or reading another article. Just start. If you’re not sure what to do, have a best guess. The point is not to create something spectacular but to get used to the act of starting and creating something, not just sitting around endlessly planning and procrastinating. If it sucks, no matter, you can always try again.
  2. Now you’re allowed to do some research. OK, you’ve flexed your action muscle. The result may be less than spectacular, it doesn’t matter. Now you have 1 hour (set a timer) to research how to do a better job. Use the time wisely!
  3. Print off a calendar for the next 30 days. You have one month to get your creation out there. If one month sounds too short that’s your mental limits speaking. Bear in mind Richard Branson – who knew nothing of the airline industry – launched Virgin Airlines in three months. Do what you can in one month. And, whatever the result, ship it. Gather feedback and improve from there.

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