Actually, this is a letter written to me by my Indian friend; Ramit Sethi, and as the saying goes, “sharing is caring.” I decided to share it here so you can as well read it and probably choose to grow. Because choosing growth is the same as choosing success, and the only way to do that is by learning to learn new things.
“One of my most memorable speaking experiences happened at a conference full of marketers.
Now, I almost never go to conferences full of marketers. I don’t want to get hounded to do affiliate deals, I don’t like being eyed up and down like a piece of meat (“How big is your list?? Wow, if you promoted my product at $497 * 2%, you could do $983,163 with just a single e– “— UGH! I WOULD RATHER JUMP OFF A BRIDGE THAN PROMOTE YOUR BULLSHIT PRODUCT.)
Anyway, I went to this conference because a friend invited me. Afterward, I reflected on one big thing I had noticed:
When these marketers introduced themselves, they mentioned 2 things: How much they made and how little they worked.
I’m not kidding. Here’s how it went: “My name is John D. I run a website helping local sports coaches get better. I work about 10 hours a month and make a few hundred thousand dollars a year! ” (Proud smile, expecting me to smile back.) I know. I wanted to vomit too, and I’m not good at hiding the disgust on my face.
But the lesson was actually fascinating. For all the money these entrepreneurs were making — usually between $250,000 and $750,000/year, working 20-30 hours/week — most of them were stuck in a prison of their own making.
The self-imposed prison of these 6-figure earners:
- They were making, say, $300,000. That’s a lot of money.
- They’d hear about one of their peers making $600,000 and start to get jealous. “How do I do that?” they’d wonder.
- But as they started to dig in, they realized they’d need to learn an entirely new skill. Maybe they’re building better products, growing their email list in a different way, hiring a higher-quality team, or — gasp — learning how to manage people.
- They’d try it half-heartedly — you know what it feels like when you half-ass something, knowing in the back of your mind that you don’t really want to do it — and see middling results.
- This is where they had a crucial decision to make. Should they go “all in” on growth and learn the uncomfortable skills they need to get to the next level? Or should they keep working 20 hours a week and go surfing each day and take amazing vacations a couple of times a year?
Predictably, they chose the beach life. Hey, it’s a good life. I don’t blame them. But their prison was now complete
By defining their identity by the (Fewest Number of Hours Worked) x (Revenue), they’d trapped themselves into working as little as possible for a mid-6-figure business. That’s a lot of money, for sure, but nowhere near what they could actually achieve.
They gave up on growth. Maybe they’d try a tactic here or a new partnership there … but really, they’d given up on making an impact. And for the rest of their lives, they’d be stuck.
My message to you is very simple: Don’t give up on learning new things and growing.
I consider it a tragedy if you’re good at something and don’t maximize your potential. Of course, you’re the CEO of your business and your life, and you decide how hard you want to push. But if I asked any of these people, “Would you like to learn new things and grow?” 100% of them would have said yes.
Unfortunately, none of them were willing to do what it took to grow.
Walking out of that conference, I decided 3 things:
I would always be learning something new IN my business and outside of my business. Inside, I’m learning new management skills and analytical techniques to grow the business. (I’ll share a bit about these later this week.) Outside, I’ve hired a personal trainer and I’ve learned how to plan a dream multi-week vacation on different continents.
I noticed that the CEOs who had “settled” at mid-6-figures saw that same attitude seep into other parts of life. When things are “good enough,” it’s easy to settle. But with slightly more effort, the results can be truly incredible.
Every 6 months, I would ask myself what “mental traps” I’d created for myself. For example, I introduced myself by defining myself as a “skinny Indian guy,” thereby creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Or what about the more subtle traps, like saying “I don’t care about fancy clothes” (thereby creating a ceiling on how much attention I could ever spend on personal appearance)? Or how about aligning how much I claim my family is important to me with how much time and money I actually spend on them?
What mental traps have you created that are holding you back from growing your business?
I would never speak at a marketing conference where I have to take a fucking shower to rid myself of the ethical detritus I’d encountered within 3 minutes of walking into the room. I’ve never done that again.
Bottom line: There are a lot of founders who run 6-figure businesses. To even reach that level is impressive.
But only a small percentage of those founders are growth-oriented CEOs who want to grow more.
If you’re reading this, I will tell you my experience: There is nothing as rewarding as learning to learn new things and making the decision to grow.
It meant that I would always have something new and interesting to learn in my business. Because customers always want something new, I would never feel “bored” or “lazy” as long as I was actively discovering what they wanted next.
It meant that I could make a bigger and bigger impact.
It meant that over time, “success” would change. Early on, it was getting a website up. Then selling something for the first time. Then making $1 million. Now it’s developing my team.
The idea that “success will change for you” is really important. Growth means you consciously make the decision to get better — even if it’s hard — because you’re not content to settle and wonder what could have been.
Money isn’t the point. $1,000,000+ is the natural byproduct of growth. I know that if I do well, I’ll make more money, but the money itself isn’t what drives me. At a certain point, it’s just a number in my bank account.
The best part is, once you internalize the idea of growth in your business, you can apply it to personal relationships, health, travel … and every other really important part of life.
As CEO, you decide where you want to grow. But first, you have to make the decision to grow at all.
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