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Clarity of Purpose

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Andy Black

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Clarity of Purpose

When I hurt my back as a youth my parents took me to an Alexander technique practitioner.

I don't even know what the Alexander technique is (or care really), but I walked away with a lesson I've remembered ever since.

(One day (!) I'll record this as a video and post it in here because it was so powerful to see. In the meantime I'll try and describe it so you can hopefully see it in your mind's eye as well.)

She told me I needed to be more aware of my posture and stand straighter - not just when I was running around a track, but for every minute of every day.

She then took a chain necklace from her pocket and threw it on the floor.

"That's your back. And it's not straight when you stoop and your shoulders are slumped."

"You could straighten it by sucking your stomach in, pushing your shoulders back, and keeping your chin up." (She proceeded to push bits of the chain that were sticking out back towards the central line, trying to make it straighter.)

"Except that doesn't work very well (it didn't look very straight that's for sure), and it's a lot to remember for every minute of every day."

"OR ... we could just take one end of the chain, and gently pull it."

The chain miraculously lengthened until it was straight as a die. I almost felt the relief in my own vertebrae and muscles watching it get longer and straighter!

"Don't try to walk around sucking your stomach in, pushing your shoulders back, arching your back, and keeping your chin up. Instead, just imagine a chain attached to the top of your head. The other end is attached to a massive crane that follows you around, and it's gently pulling you up so that you're tall, and straight."

Wow. That works. When I'm running I'm suddenly running tall.

Combine that with a wee trigger to remember the crane whenever I go through a doorway, and my posture is great.

I just had to focus on ONE goal, and everything else fell into place naturally.



So apart from helping your posture and preventing you from getting a bad back (both great intentions), why would I add this to an entrepreneurial forum?

I think it's relevant.



Years ago a mentor told me that the single biggest reason for business failure was "lack of clarity (of purpose)".

I never quite understood what that meant.



We see people in this forum and elsewhere talk about "blogging", "selling eBooks", or "importing from China" (insert latest flavour of the month).

They may or may not succeed.

It often depends on what they're ultimately trying to do.

Is the entrepreneur trying to help parents deal with their autistic child? Is a blog and eBook just a particular vehicle to reach those parents with the helpful advice they need?

Is the entrepreneur trying to help people in the US get a better product that they're looking for, that can currently only be found in China?


If your purpose, your "why", is to help people achieve a result they want for themselves, then focusing on that ONE goal means everything else falls into place naturally.

It's like thinking of the crane pulling the wire attached to the top of your head. Focus on that and the actions your body takes so you walk taller will just happen naturally.


We all know we should "Take Action!"... that knowledge is worthless unless you act upon it.

But we should also know that "the market does not pay for activity" ... unless that activity adds value.

Get your "why" right, and all the right actions to take will become obvious.

Get clarity of purpose, and that insane list of possible actions you can take becomes a lot simpler.

Ask yourself "Does this help my customer?"




Don't just take my word for it though. Listen to MJ in this video:

 

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Supa

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great post Andy. I like the picture of the chain that gets into one line after pulling it at the top. Actually it feels way better to have one thing that you put your whole focus and concentration on, I couldn't imagine having to think about 2 or more projects at the same time. No matter where I am I think about this one thing that I want to create.

But this one:
"Does this help my customer?"
really made me think about something. While working on my business I usually think about how to make this look better and how to make this more simpler for the users, but the main focus should always be put on your sentence "Does this help my customer?" everything else is important too, but if your product doesn't help your customer it doesn't matter how nice or how simple to use it is.
 

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Wow. That works. When I'm running I'm suddenly running tall.
The simplicity is perfect.

I just had to focus on ONE goal, and everything else fell into place naturally.
Back in my early days of track and field (high school), I realized this truth.

My goal was to become an All-American track & field athlete. And, the only way to do that was to medal at the National track & field meet.

I knew exactly what I wanted and where I was going.

Naturally, becoming an All-State athlete, breaking eight school records, winning championship meets, being undefeated during the regular season, and earning an athletic scholarship was a result from that goal.


The process resulted in an entirely new lifestyle, from waking up early in order to complete two workouts in a day to nailing my nutritional/dietary needs down to near perfection.

The goal wasn't to eat healthy... it was to medal at the National meet. However, becoming a top performing athlete required optimal nutrition, so it became part of the process to accomplish my goal.

After years of training, making the daily sacrifices, and focusing on the ONE goal, I did all of the above and earned my National medal / All-American status.

The greatest part of all is that the process from back then is still a part of me today.


EDIT:

LSUuniformNationalMedal1.png

After my entire running career was complete I gave that National medal and college uniform to my high school coach. It's now in his weight room.
 
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Andy Black

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Back in my early days of track and field (high school), I realized this truth.

My goal was to become an All-American track & field athlete. And, the only way to do that was to medal at the National track & field meet.

I knew exactly what I wanted and where I was going.

Naturally, becoming an All-State athlete, breaking eight school records, winning championship meets, being undefeated during the regular season, and earning an athletic scholarship was a result from that goal.


The process resulted in an entirely new lifestyle, from waking up early in order to complete two workouts in a day to nailing my nutritional/dietary needs down to near perfection.

The goal wasn't to eat healthy... it was to medal at the National meet. However, becoming a top performing athlete required optimal nutrition, so it became part of the process to accomplish my goal.

After years of training, making the daily sacrifices, and focusing on the ONE goal, I did all of the above and earned my National medal / All-American status.

The greatest part of all is that the process from back then is still a part of me today.


EDIT:

View attachment 10792

After my entire running career was complete I gave that National medal and college uniform to my high school coach. It's now in his weight room.
Great story, thanks for sharing.

I love that you gave back the medal and uniform to your high school.

You became who your wanted to be. You didn't need the medal or uniform any more.

Reminds me of this post.
 
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Jamie T

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If your purpose, your "why", is to help people achieve a result they want for themselves, then focusing on that ONE goal means everything else falls into place naturally.
To add to this point, my high school career was "me" focused.

College, coaching, and beyond caused a shift in focus from inward to outward.

All of the sudden it's not just about you. It's about your team, your university, your community, your country, and your inspiration on others.


The Law of Effection at its best. You can see it. The inward focus is singular while the outward focus multiplies quickly.
 
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Very cool post - thank you for sharing. Funny you discuss about the "why" which made me think of Simon Sinek.

I promise you guys will be blown away by this so enjoy:

"Start With Why" is a great book. I have it softcopy and audio and highly recommend it. Simon talks about WHY being more important than HOW which is more important than WHAT.

My mentor had it as WHY -> WHAT -> HOW. It's just a difference in semantics I think, but I prefer my mentor's version.

I've a couple more stories I'll add to this thread based around leading with WHY. In the meantime I wanted to add something else to this post...
 
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Andy Black

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Stop "Building" Stuff
(Originally posted here.)


I worked for a company that was building a content creation platform.

I worked for a startup that was building a new social network.

I worked for another company that was building a call centre.

I've had many many clients that were building websites.

And a few that were building email lists.


Sigh...



I created a deck for a client a few years ago, where I tried (unsuccessfully!) to stop them "building" stuff and provide value instead.

I've added it in it's entirety here to sneakily throw in some marketing education. ;)
(It follows on from the short video in this post.)

The most important point is the last slide.














 
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TooSlow

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This definitely feels like a problem in my life, no real purpose that's driving me. Just random things that interest me, which makes it easy to coast along killing time, or discarding pursuits when I lose interest since they aren't part of some larger goal. I just feel like I have no real passion for anything.

I recently read Leil Lowndes' book, How to Talk to Anyone, where she also mentioned the posture trick. Her visualization was that of a trapeze artist: the bar is swinging towards you, just above your head, imagine gripping it with your teeth as it passes and it lifting you high into the air. Do this every time you walk through a doorway, it'll eventually feel more natural, plus when meeting people you often have to pass through a door first, so your posture will exude confidence when they see you!
 

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Andy Black

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This definitely feels like a problem in my life, no real purpose that's driving me. Just random things that interest me, which makes it easy to coast along killing time, or discarding pursuits when I lose interest since they aren't part of some larger goal. I just feel like I have no real passion for anything.

I recently read Leil Lowndes' book, How to Talk to Anyone, where she also mentioned the posture trick. Her visualization was that of a trapeze artist: the bar is swinging towards you, just above your head, imagine gripping it with your teeth as it passes and it lifting you high into the air. Do this every time you walk through a doorway, it'll eventually feel more natural, plus when meeting people you often have to pass through a door first, so your posture will exude confidence when they see you!
Ouch! I think I prefer the crane pulling me up gently rather than grabbing a swinging trapeze with my teeth. :)

Regarding purpose, have you read this great thread:
 
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TooSlow

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Ouch! I think I prefer the crane pulling me up gently rather than grabbing a swinging trapeze with my teeth. :)

Regarding purpose, have you read this great thread:
Yes, that's how I got here! I recognized a lot of similar problems in my own life from that thread, despite being in the slow lane and not getting laid. I don't know if it makes it better or worse having a relatively easy life with no rock bottoms to fight my way out of.
 
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SergioFelix

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Absolutely LOVED this video!

Sometimes I am just doing things because it feels like I'm working but at the end of the day, I see my to-do list (the bullet points that really matter) and none of them has been tackled.

Going to really do my best today to get a few things going that should have been going a couple of weeks ago, thanks a million for the motivation man!
 
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Raymas

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Andy, thank you so much for posting this! reading it has struck me so hard. Can't believe I missed this post, it was such a simple yet powerful idea. The story of Alexander technique you had, illustrated perfectly what you were trying to say.

I was stuck and chasing the wrong thing, and realized that I didn't have clear purpose since joining the forum back in February. It dawned on me that the most basic thing being an entrepreneur is helping people. Having dreams is good but sometime it derails us from helping and providing value to others.

Can't say thank you enough to you enough for the amount of knowledge and value you bring to this forum :) :) +rep
 

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Ha, I only just now realized what your point was
That finding a clarity of purpose is how you pick up the string

So rather than pushing in all the different faulty mindsets, find the one mindset that connects all of them
Then you better that mindset and it will clarify your purpose/goal

So, if I look at my chaotic bundle of marbles I suppose they are all leaning in a certain direction and slowly crawling that way
I think they are gravitating towards "big concepts and how to manifest them" so much so that I forget the importance of everything else
I suppose, forgetting everything else is in a way NOT the right thing to do, but reducing my focus towards important detail is correct
I need to focus more towards detail and be less against other stuff
Aha! I get it.

Cheers for the insight, its helpful in order to "self treat"
I'll keep it in mind, thanks


On another note I just understood the substance of your funnel
And its deeper underlying purpose
Basically,
IMPRESSIONS is important cuz you want people to "accidentally" stumble onto what you do
Only then can they start forming opinions on is. So in a way, you want a goldie locks ratio of impressions, enough that people can feel you out but not so many that they tune you out.
CLICKS are important because it means their eyes are on you now, scanning for details, hints, ideas about who you are and what purpose you serve. You don't want to rush this or their eyes will be quick and cold, you want these clicks to come with a good mood that syncs with what you do.
LEADS are important because they are "reachable" human beings that are now allowing some degree of contact with you. Its not necessarily a sale but that is because people aren't sure what to want and rightly so, things can be chaotic and confusing and not everything is right for everybody. You need to have a way of relating to your leads.

I get it now. I get the second half too cuz I do it all the time. My first half was weak though, but I think it is clear now.
 
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Ha, I only just now realized what your point was
That finding a clarity of purpose is how you pick up the string

So rather than pushing in all the different faulty mindsets, find the one mindset that connects all of them
Then you better that mindset and it will clarify your purpose/goal

So, if I look at my chaotic bundle of marbles I suppose they are all leaning in a certain direction and slowly crawling that way
I think they are gravitating towards "big concepts and how to manifest them" so much so that I forget the importance of everything else
I suppose, forgetting everything else is in a way NOT the right thing to do, but reducing my focus towards important detail is correct
I need to focus more towards detail and be less against other stuff
Aha! I get it.

Cheers for the insight, its helpful in order to "self treat"
I'll keep it in mind, thanks


On another note I just understood the substance of your funnel
And its deeper underlying purpose
Basically,
IMPRESSIONS is important cuz you want people to "accidentally" stumble onto what you do
Only then can they start forming opinions on is. So in a way, you want a goldie locks ratio of impressions, enough that people can feel you out but not so many that they tune you out.
CLICKS are important because it means their eyes are on you now, scanning for details, hints, ideas about who you are and what purpose you serve. You don't want to rush this or their eyes will be quick and cold, you want these clicks to come with a good mood that syncs with what you do.
LEADS are important because they are "reachable" human beings that are now allowing some degree of contact with you. Its not necessarily a sale but that is because people aren't sure what to want and rightly so, things can be chaotic and confusing and not everything is right for everybody. You need to have a way of relating to your leads.

I get it now. I get the second half too cuz I do it all the time. My first half was weak though, but I think it is clear now.
Good. I'm glad it helped you.

Simplicity makes life a lot easier.
 
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That could be a book title.

I think I'll put that above my door...
Thanks. You made me relook at that throw-away statement.

I was going to write "Simplicity makes life simpler", but figured more people want the easy life than the simple life.

I love simplicity. I'll keep gnawing away till I've stripped something to its bare bones.

Simplicity is my holy grail. It really does make life easier.
 

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Philip Marlowe

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Great stuff.

I think a lot of people read TMF and then get frustrated they can't jump (and of course make $$$$$) immediately. It's taken me nearly eight months to really understand what I need to provide (value) and where I might best serve a specific customer set. And that was after having a small epiphany that first let me on the search for this tribe.

To your point, blogging or eComm or whatever are just the medium. Which is also why people need to be careful reading 'guru' type articles about this method or that method being 'dead'.

In my case, I've validated the need through multiple means, closely analyzed my competition, and now am in a place where I'm ready to go.

If you've been living 'The Script' for 20 or 30 years, why do you think that you need to take the red pill tonight and starting order products from China by tomorrow morning? Take your time, think very clearly about your personal and professional goals, and then begin to craft a value proposition. Once you've crafted that value - sell/market it. If there's a market and people are buying, scale it!

Side note on simplicity - I love the mantra "discipline = freedom" made famous by a guy named Jocko. He talks about getting-up early, living within his means, and staying healthy. And while most people think it's crazy or intense, really all of that discipline allows him to do whatever he wants because his weight or his finances or whatever don't haunt him.

-PM
 

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Thank you Andy for the value!

My Homework:
What is the single biggest thing I've taken from this?
When you start helping people, you're getting your purpose. And when you have your purpose you'll always know the right steps

What actions will I take?
Go on helping people around me and keep my eyes open for opportunities to help them with even more impact.

2/3
 

RogueInnovation

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I resolve to be better at business

Not for money
Not for any big reason actually
More just because I recognize it as part of a larger weakness

For a long time I wanted to deny that weakness
And in a way success in business would have given me a reason to bury that I had it
So I suppose my old reason was to "bury" something
But now, it is to expose it, and better understand why I wanted so badly to close off

Now, I want to do it for me
And to forget the obligation I have felt
And go forwards knowing
Now it is MY choice to do so
 

Fdo

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Thank you for sharing the image of straightening beads by tugging on one end. I find myself walking straighter today

Will keep focusing on the customer.
Does this help my customer?
 

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