Working Toward or Working Against

I’ve worked toward and I’ve worked against. Working toward something is way more satisfying and enlivening.Start Stop

When you’re working toward something, there’s a sense of anticipation, a vision, there are steps you can take to make something happen, and there’s something to share, generate ideas for and talk about. Working toward something is engaging in creation, and so is often experienced as something like power.

Working against, on the other hand, is to stop something from happening. When you consider something not happening, you are working with something that doesn’t yet exist and you try to keep it out of existence. Doing anything is inherently creative, so the best you can do is create something else, which actually serves a purpose other than what it was created for. There’s no such thing as generating ideas to make something not happen. In other words, there’s no such thing in existence as non-existence.

To work powerfully, you have to work toward something.

The same is true in life. The pursuit will be dissatisfying, powerless and endless if all you do is try and “not be” a failure or “not be” fat or “not be” anything! “Not be” doesn’t exist!

Once I got that all I could do (in existence) was to create, I found a whole bunch more I could do and a whole bunch more I had to take responsibility for.

The Cause of Your (or Your Market’s) Behavior

People who want to cause behavior know that the way to significantly increase the chances of causing that is to integrate required accountability. At work, for example, the monthly report isn’t due “whenever” and just keep it on file,  it’s due on or before a certain date and submit it to a certain manger.

Marketers create accountability to others by introducing opportunities to:

  • Track and share athletic performance (like the Jawbone)
  • Redeem by a certain date
  • Earn points for verified purchases

Once you commit to someone outside of yourself, it seems to become more realThe external stimuli will raise your game and improve the chances of you completing something.

When you’re just playing in your own field, on your own schedule, it all mostly  stays in your head – and you can change the game and due dates any time you want.

If you have a personal goal, a way to raise your game is to get someone to be accountable to – to commit to projects and due dates. It will enliven the game and your projects will have as much relevance as the games others create for you.

A Good Reality Check

Successful companies that chug along without major issues never get to enjoy the benefits of major loss. Yes, the Benefits of Major Loss. With a big loss, comes big clarity.

In late June, someone in a large, older SUV sped through a red light as I was crossing the green in my little Honda. Another couple of feet and a T-Bone into the driver’s side – and I might not be writing a story today.

The impact was powerful. I was in a kind of shock for several days and I  never had a lingering moment of anger about it. In fact, as soon as I got irritated about my car being called a “total loss” and being challenged to find a trusty replacement, I’d remember that I lived through it …that I survived. It was impossible to feel anger.

What I got coming face to face with death and total loss, is the visceral knowing in my bones that death can come at any moment. As I have that awareness without anger or fear or resentment, I have clarity about what matters and what I want to experience while I’m here.

It might be that without the inevitability of the end, there’s no pressing need to reassess goals and actions. We all think a smooth ride is what we want, maybe what we’re due, but the clarity and perspective of a brush with total loss provides peace and direction. Then it’s a matter of holding on the the awareness and taking action consistent with what’s most important.

A good marketer will help you see what really matters to you, the community and your business and will steer away from the millions of fun, trendy or flashy things you Can Do. Let total loss be a possibility. You will be less distracted by the trendy, smooth talking marketers offering the very latest -who don’t listen and don’t know what really matters.


One Million Cups

1 Million Cups at Kauffman Foundation Kansas City As a marketer concerned primarily with technical solutions, many hours are spent with my computer. And at the end of the day it seems like there’s nothing like human connection and inspiration. For this I like to attend the weekly One Million Cups event at the Kauffman Foundation near the Plaza in Kansas City. This morning’s event had  two inspired speakers, as usual, and provided inspiration to a room full of people.

One of the founders of the event, Nate Olson, once read that communities are built through a million cups of coffee. Although there’s tea now as well, provided by Hugo Tea (one of the recent presenters), the community builds every week.

A year after it’s first meeting, the program is spreading around the country, connecting entrepreneurs, developers, investors, consultants,  and marketers like myself.

While a  ton of the presenters have technology based solutions, we all need human connection. A survey of participants completed earlier this year supported that. People reported that  that face-to-face contact was the big draw to the weekly events.

“The word-of-mouth growth of 1 Million Cups suggests the value of interpersonal networking among entrepreneurs,” said Yasuyuki Motoyama, a Kauffman senior scholar who researched the program. “

Starting with Why

Simon Sinek made his mantra: “Start with Why.” He says (and I agree) that people do what they do not because of the inherent value (or lack of) the activity, but because of some underlying reason – the why. People become loyal customers, part of your tribe, donate money, and buy your art because of the underlying why they resonate with.

Most people are intent on getting the what right t……the plan, the business model, the proposal, the product images, the features and benefits.

But why do you care about any of it? Because the Why actually causes (and then flavors) the What.

Imagine two teachers helping two students. One is doing it because her why is because is nearing retirement and doesn’t want to learn to do something else. The other is doing it because she cares deeply and wants to make a contribution right there and then.

The potential impact is clear, yet most of us in business (and even in our personal lives) continue to focus on measurable results caused by actions.  It’s up to each of us to determine our own whys, the context from which we live and carry out tasks. It’s from this place that new ideas are hatched.

Remember, Martin Luther King Jr. had an I Have a Dream Speech, not I Have a Well Reasoned Business Plan Speech.

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