You’ve got a goal, but you’re finding that your strategy or approach you’ve been following isn’t working for you?
Have you been trying out the strategy that seem to be working for others, but finding the same strategy is not producing the results you thought it would?
I know that can be disappointing, and cause you to doubt yourself.
But you know the expression ‘there’s more than one way to skin a cat’?
It’s a horribly visual analogy, but when it comes to achieving our goals, in many cases, the strategy you choose needs to be specific to the vision that you are trying to create – and for the way you want to go about it.
And because we can’t just ‘copy and paste’ strategies that work for others and expect them to work, it’s so important to remember that there is more than one way to do things and get to our goals.
Which is fabulous news, because it means you get to find your own way.
If that feels daunting, don’t worry, very soon I’m going to share with you on this blog on how to do just that in a way that feels true for you.
Why is it so important to understand this?
Let me be clear….
Some things are great to learn from others.
There are many skills (and much helpful knowledge) we can learn from others that can definitely help us towards our goals.
For example, I have a goal of learning how to paint (well), so I am working with an art teacher to learn different methods.
From there, I go home from classes and I practice. Over time, as I get better, I will no longer need the same kinds of lessons. Maybe at that point, I’ll want to move on to oils and learning from a teacher of oils who paints the kinds of things I want to learn how to paint.
So please understand that I’m not saying that it’s not great to learn from others.
What I’m saying is that whether you use others who have gone before you or not should depend on a number of factors. Including your goal.
My goal with my art is to learn. So I want to learn from someone who knows how to do it, and how to teach it.
But there have been times where my goal wasn’t about learning, it was about creating an outcome.
Because I didn’t know how to do it myself, I decided to follow the methods of someone else I admired, thinking or assuming it would get me to the same outcome.
It didn’t because there are so many factors that go into the creation of an outcome, many of which are hidden from obvious view.
If you just blindly copy what others have done (regardless of whether you are paying them to help you), you may well not end up where you want to be.
Because there may well be different factors in play.
Not only may you be working with different goals and visions for the outcomes and aims you are trying to create (even if it looks like you are working on the same thing)…
You may also have different things that are important to you, different priorities, biases, preferences and values.
You may also have different personalities and ways that things may or may not work for you.
You may have different knowledge, beliefs, support, ways of thinking that give rise to the choices you make, and different luck!
….and all of that matters!
(And conversely, what works for you may not work for them!)
Taking on other people’s ways and trying to replicate them as though you are working under the same conditions can be a lengthy and very expensive lesson.
A Personal Illustration
The belief that I had to do it the way others were doing it got me a few years back.
I thought the way to build a successful career in my industry was to create lots of professional videos and get them spreading across social media.
I wanted to get my work out there, and I’d seen a whole lot of very visible people achieve visibility – and apparent success – with flashy scripted videos, so I assumed that was the best pathway to follow.
Sure, that is the way some people do it, but now, four years later and having come through the other end my own failures in trying to achieve success that way, I’ve realised it’s not what I want to do.
Nor what I should have even been investing my time on back then.
Had I known what I’m teaching people now, I’d have created a completely different, and much more honest plan for myself!
But you know the funny thing?
Before realising this was getting me, I undertook multiple TV training courses.
We did TV presenter-style scripts, as well as off the cuff interview and talk back style content.
The trainer told us that it was super important to learn to deliver scripts. We’d get these long drawn out scripts we’d have to remember by rote.
I fricking hated the scripted stuff. I was horrible at it. I could do it, but I lost all of my personality trying to get it right.
As I’d deliver them, somehow it was like my soul had died and my body was delivering them.
But the unscripted segments we did that were on the fly were so much fun. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much. Ever.
At this point my trainer changed his mind and told me that I was made for delivering off the cuff stuff. Stuff which showed off my knowledge and personality, rather than trying to come across ‘professionally’.
So I invested in my own expensive lighting and camera equipment to shoot off the cuff videos from home. And hired a wonderful mentor who teaches people to create their own online TV channel, to teach me how to shoot them. After all, I loved what she did and thougt it would work for me.
But it wasn’t long before I was told by my video trainer that to deliver content, I needed to write scripts.
I almost threw up.
I decided to try it her way, but I hated it. My public speaking and teaching background had taught me that I love teaching when I’m running off the cuff. And that I know my stuff enough to create massive value without needing a script. Scripting only makes my work feel constrained, unnatural and uncomfortable.
But we had a shoot coming up so, being a good student, I did what I was told.
But it was terrible.
Watching back the edits, it was like watching a dead person deliver a speech that was boring the tits of even them.
It affirmed that I was going about it all wrong.
But I refused to give up.
Still believing videos was the answer to achieving visibility in the market, I decided to hire a different professional videographer and videography team to help create videos for me.
Fortunately for us both, he didn’t tell me I needed to do scripts.
Complete with make-up and hair team, and stunning editing, we had a fun day shooting.
But despite looking beeeeautiful and ending up with amazing videos, I never did anything useful with them.
And, to the shock of my videographer, I don’t intend to.
Because after all the expense, the effort, the headaches, the struggle…. I discovered I actually don’t want to use videos.
What I should have done was take the time to take an honest look at whether I actually wanted videos to be part of the way I got my work out there.
And I’ve come to realise, I don’t.
So please, for the sake of your sanity, your time left on the planet, and your bank balance, remember, there may well be many different pathways, strategies and action steps that will get you there.
Don’t force yourself to do it a way you don’t like. Because chances are, you’ll trash it because there is no structural tension to your goal.
(If you haven’t read about the importance of structural tension, why it’s important and how to create it, read this. It might just change your life.)
And remember, you may start with one strategy and discover it doesn’t work for you.
Don’t beat yourself up about it. You didn’t know before you started that this way wouldn’t work for you. So be okay with changing your method.
As my mentor Rosalind says to me “You can’t know, till you know.”
Never a truer word.
Just make sure your goal has structural tension and keep going!
There are, of course, the odd thing where there is only one pathway. Becoming a pilot or a surgeon require you to go to pilot school or medical school. (Please don’t mess with that pathway by trying to do it on your own. That probably won’t end well.)
But for the most part, there are lots of ways to get somewhere. And it’s best for you to work out your way.
However, if you want to become a pilot, please ignore this post and go to pilot school. 🙂
Did this article help you at all? I’d love to hear if you realised something for yourself. Feel free to leave a comment below.
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Big love to you + to finding YOUR way.