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During my early twenties I was introduced to the author Paulo Coelho, beginning with his book The Pilgrimage and then his most famous book, The Alchemist. I then went on a bit of a Coelho binge, reading everything I could find by him.
Most of his books I loved and still do. His writing style has always had a magical quality for me, an ability to make everything feel imbued with emotion, and bring about clarity through simplification.
Paulo was one of the first authors I read who was able to take very big and powerful concepts important to every human, and condense them into short phrases or single words that always seem to fit perfectly. Many of his books focus on one human condition and the entire narrative is a story or collection of stories exploring that concept.
For example, he wrote how each person has a purpose in life, a journey to go on, which he called your “Personal Legend“. This is pretty much the entire thesis of the Alchemist: One big story about a young shepherd’s quest towards a destination, that turns out to point to the journey as the purpose.
I love the phrase personal legend. Your purpose, which is so important to you that it becomes somewhat of a legend – an epic tale that is your life – is something we can all relate to. There’s nothing more important to us than figuring out what is important to us…ahem.
Although I haven’t really connected the dots until now, it was through writing like Paulo’s that I came to see how important it was to label your ideas so others could easily share and understand them, especially if you are a writer. If you come up with particularly good phrases, then other people will adopt them too, and suddenly your idea has become part of a common language within your community.
My introduction of the concept known as “Pillar Content” to describe the creation of the content pillars of your blog, is a label the blogging community adopted. There are countless examples like this within every field human beings communicate about.
This concept I believe is critical if you want to become a thought leader. Thought leaders teach, so any time you can condense complex concepts into effective, yet simple labels that people share, you further cement your position.
Naturally it made sense for me to label the idea of giving labels to ideas, which in this case I called a “Language Identifier“. Perhaps ironically, I haven’t really seen this label take off, possibly because the concept as a whole isn’t discussed much.
There’s another word that Paulo wrote about that has a strong connection to your personal legend. If your legend is your story, your journey towards something, but you aren’t clear what that is, then in order to find your path, you have to follow your “enthusiasm”.
Enthusiasm is the fuel that fires the engine to get you to take action.
Recently I’ve been paying particular attention to my enthusiasm. I’ve got several projects on the go, some projects that are coming to a close for me, and several possibilities for new projects.
I’m well aware that I have a few too many things going on at once, hence enthusiasm has been a very important ingredient necessary to show me where to focus my time.
Take the startup company I have been working on lately called CrankyAds. I’ve been very enthusiastic about parts of the project, in particular seeing ideas for features get developed, and brainstorming positioning strategies to differentiate our service from the competition.
The problem, which has surfaced again and again as we develop the business, is that no one in our company is enthusiastic about certain jobs that need to be done. Most of them relate to sales roles within the advertising industry. We’ve hoped that our software would do most of the selling for us, but since we have hit many development hurdles, it’s been hard to get the machine running up to speed, meaning we’ve looked to human powered solutions to help make some money.
As a result of this, certain jobs have surfaced, like cold approaching prospects, that none of us want to do, or are good at.
When we come together for weekly meetings it’s clear what we do enjoy. Idea generation is fun for everyone, then we each have individual strengths – Walter programmer, Mick designing, and me writing.
From time to time we understand we have to do things we don’t enjoy, that’s fine to help get the business going. However if your team comes to realize that a core component, or several components, require jobs that no one likes doing, you have to start changing direction or bring on new people who do like those roles, if you want to succeed.
I occasionally talk to people who are just starting internet projects. Often the goal is to make enough “passive income” or create some kind of low-labour income stream, so they can quit their job, or pay off a debt, or invest in a bigger project.
It becomes pretty clear that the “what” they do isn’t so important as the possibility to make some money, quickly.
It’s hard to even write that phrase. Quick, easy money. It really doesn’t exist, or if it does, it’s not legal or doesn’t last very long.
I’ve always been a proponent of passion based projects. I fully believe there is no quick and easy money option, all of them require hard work, thus the most important ingredient above all else is enthusiasm.
If you read my recent post about how much someone can do by themselves online you will see how I referenced previous interviews I have done with successful online entrepreneurs. In every case, they had absolutely dogged determination to get things done, to keep working regardless of short term results.
I honestly believe if there isn’t some kind of enthusiasm, whether it’s love of the subject matter, or love of seeing the project come together – it can’t simply be seeing money come in – then you won’t be in the game long enough to make it work.
In the last few months team CrankyAds and I have realized that we’re not going to make any profits from the project any time soon. We’ve been looking at pivot options, which I will no doubt write about soon enough on this blog.
As a result of this my partners have had to up the amount of contract work they do for clients so they can do things like eat and pay their rent and bills. Important stuff.
I’ve also had to start thinking about the future and my income streams.
Affiliate marketing isn’t the same as it used to be. Frankly as much as I like certain products I recommend via my newsletter, I’m not always happy with the marketing techniques used by other people, so I’ve been promoting fewer and fewer things.
My experiment to convert Entrepreneurs-Journey into a multiple author blog, was worthwhile initially, because it allowed me to spend a lot of time at the hospital when my mother first had her stroke without worrying about the publishing schedule. However, overall it has proven unsuccessful as it failed to increase traffic.
Besides the odd post now and then from other writers and columnists, EJ has returned back to “Yaro’s blog”. As much as I appreciated the additional content from other writers, it was hard to get consistency, especially given they were writing on a non-payment basis – they do it for exposure.
To make things worse, I found myself spending just as much time with coordination and editing as I used to spend writing. Given a choice, I’d rather write, so I’m actually quite happy to take back EJ as my own again, even if it means there won’t be quite as much content as there was.
Based on feedback, I’m pretty sure many people are happy to hear that I’m back as the main EJ writer. Quite a few people were upset to not see my writing as often, and while the columnist did publish some amazing articles, for certain people they come to EJ for my story only.
Over the coming months you will see the EJ design change a little bit to reflect the previous business model I used to followed. All this means it that EJ is once again my platform. It’s my place to teach, to share and to introduce you to my materials.
All these changes, my mother being in hospital (she is still there in case you are wondering and I visit every day, so a large chunk of my time goes to this), my products closing, less income from channels I used to rely on, a startup project that has taken a lot of resources including time and money for little financial return, has led to me being in an interesting place.
That’s why I’m focusing on my enthusiasm. It’s helping me decide what to spend my time on. Oddly enough, it surfaced just recently in the same place that started me down the blogging path almost eight years ago.
I always recommend to people that you outsource your tech work if you are not good at it. That advice took me about seven years to learn. During those first seven years I did a lot of tech work myself, which while slowing me down, was beneficial in that I learned how to do things like set up and change the design of websites and blogs.
As a result of not being hands on with tech for the last seven years, I have lost some of my familiarity with the tools people use to do things. Because of this, I just recently decided to get back to basics and install a WordPress blog myself, and also play with some tools that help me use WordPress to make sales pages, landing pages and membership sites, which I will need for releasing new products.
So I went back and did a manual install of WordPress as a refresher. I also did a one click Cpanel installation, which is definitely easier. I’ve also installed the Genesis Framework, a child theme for Genesis, and the Premise tool from the same guys (studiopress/copyblogger) that helps you do landing pages and membership sites, etc. I’ve also installed Optimize Press.
Why do all of this? For practical reasons – so I can get ready to release new products – but also so I continue to have familiarity with the tools that people use today. If I am going to remain a teacher it helps to know how to use the tools.
What surprised me about this process was how much fun I had. I used these tools on a new hobby blog I’ve wanted to set up for a while. The whole process of choosing a domain, getting the hosting set up, installing the themes, playing with the plugins that help you make landing pages, has all made me very excited about creating things again myself.
It’s as if because I built it all from scratch myself, I feel a stronger sense of ownership.
That of course doesn’t mean I won’t keep relying on tech help. There’s plenty I cannot do and it doesn’t pay for me to learn how to do, but at least knowing some of the more every day things gives me some sense of control.
Most importantly though, it was fun. That’s enthusiasm. I can’t remember the last time I wanted to keep working on something late at night despite being tired because I just needed to see it finished.
I’ll end this article with an obvious question – what are you enthusiastic about right now?
Let me know by leaving a comment.
Thanks for reading!