Continually reinvent yourself – Think in Waves.
That you cannot do it all at once is obvious, nor should you try if you are playing the long game. But do not fall into a trap that many professionals fall into. Which is finding an activity you are good at, and simply keep doing that forever. This leads to frustration as you begin to feel you have plateaued. Often this is because they have overplayed their strengths and ignored areas where they are weak, or they are afraid to take a chance on something new
Heads Up, Heads Down.
Articulated by Jared Kleinert an Atlanta based entrepreneur. Heads Up, Heads Down provides guidance on how to avoid the shiny object syndrome, the difficulty many of us face in avoiding chasing the next big thing. There is no shame in trying other things, but only when you are in Heads Up mode, where you are looking for opportunities, But not when you should be Heads Down mode, the time when you are focused on execution, getting stuff done. Doubling down on what is working or investing time on a possibility you have not yet fully vetted its true potential. Rapidly shifting between Heads Up and Heads Down mode leads to heartache. How you schedule your time between Heads Up and Heads Down mode depends on your circumstances. Dorie Clark schedules 3 to 6 months blocks of time for each activity. But Dorie is well established, not many of us will be able to afford to spend 3 to 6 months looking for new opportunities, we have to put food on the table. But the key is to avoid the distraction of chasing each shiny new object that catches our attention when we should be focused on delivery.
A different approach to the same concept advocated in his book The Long Game is thinking in waves. Dorie Clark has identified four waves that can lead you to becoming a recognized expert in you field. They are Learning, Creating, Connecting and Reaping. By transitioning through these four phases, smoothly will keep you growing, developing and moving forward. Avoid hanging onto one wave for too long which will lead to frustration and lack of progress,
Learning, as its name implies, is the phase when you are learning all you can about the topic you are interested in or focused on. Research the latest books on the subject, read online articles, if appropriate take on line courses or attend training programs. The potential trap is that you spend too much time gaining qualifications, adding one more to your resume, while spending too little time on business building opportunities.
Learning your craft is an essential first step, but if you want to be recognized for the unique contribution you can make, you need to move onto the second wave creating. Take what you have learned, consider what seems right to you, and what seems to be wrong. By sorting and sifting the information through the lens of your experience and knowledge you will develop content that is unique to you. This could be in the form of a newsletter, a blog, or a podcast. Likely they will not attract a lot of attention at first, but if your content is compelling then your audience will grow. When I started this radio show my podcasts did not attract any attention. Now I am getting around 400 downloads a month, still not a vast audience but it is growing and in a year’s time who knows where it will be. Plus, I am learning new ideas with every show I write. Do not waste the material you produce, if you write a blog, consider using the text for a podcast. Post excerpts on LinkedIn or Medium. Make yourself findable by the clients you would most like to work with.
Connecting. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know that’s important, is a well know phrase. I was recently rejected by a client because I did not have connections within the sector they worked in. Building a network is crucial for the solo entrepreneur. When you start out your initial enthusiasm to create content will sustain you for a while, but if after 3 or 6 months with little visible progress how do you keep going? For me IBGR is a god send, I must produce 4 podcasts a week, if I do not I will let down friends and colleagues. So even on those weeks when I seem to have too much to do I carve out the time to prepare my show. But if you do not have a show time deadline to meet, your connections can help keep you motivated. Connections will help you discover new ideas, expose you to new communities, and provide general encouragement. Playing the long game will result in you building up more and more valuable connections over time. Again, do not do this to excess, building a network is important but so is moving your business forward.
Which brings us to the fourth and final wave Reaping. You have learned your craft, you have created content and made connections. It’s taken some time but now you are recognized as an expert in your field. Let the good times roll, you command higher fees, you are in demand and you making a good living. But are you as good as you can be? Reaping is not your final destination. You should not be happy with a thing that used to be. People say I used to be a CEO. I was a soccer player. In his hit song Glory Days Bruce Springsteen sings how he hope when he gets older he does not sit around thinking about past glory days but acknowledges that he probably will. What delivered success in the past will not deliver success in the future. It’s time to start the four waves from the beginning and to re-invent yourself. This is the long game, you are not ready for retirement just yet.
To get more done alternate between Heads Up, seeking new opportunities, and Head Down when you focus on execution.
You cannot do it all, at least not all at the same time, so follow the career waves.
Learning – study your field so you be knowledgeable
Creating – giving back by sharing what you have learned
Connecting – build your connections within your field of expertise.
Reaping – you have reach the top in your field and its time to enjoy the rewards of your hard work.
Do not stop learning, it will be soon time to repeat the cycle so you do not stagnate.
Dori Clark’s book is full of useful ideas on how to grow your business. If you would like to learn more by buying her book please consider using my affiliate link below. It will not cost you anything and will provide a small contribution to keep the website update. Thanks