Skillful conversationalists can explore disagreements and make points in ways that feel constructive and positive rather than combative or corrective. – Gretchen Rubin
What is your project?
In the last couple of posts we looked at making sure you were heading in the right direction and that you had taken a good look at the obstacles in your way.
Now, as you set off, let’s ask the question; what is your project?
Is it to start a business, write a book, create a portfolio, make a course, produce a product?
Now, what do you do with that idea?
Exploring your prospect’s mind
The world has been thoroughly mapped and explored, there are few places you can go to on the surface and plant a flag to claim that you found it first.
That’s not the case with the territory of the mind.
You have a vast, uncharted space to work with, a space where you can create territories rather than find them if you choose to do so.
Apple are an example of a company that’s great at doing this.
The products they have come out with have redefined what the world looks like for their customers, changing how they live and act.
You and I, we’re not Apple, but we can still have a go at exploring this territory of the mind and planting a flag in a patch that we believe we’ve found for the first time.
And this is important because why should anyone listen to you if you have nothing different to say to everyone else?
In marketing speak this idea of finding a space that’s your own is referred to as your USP – your unique service proposition.
That’s not entirely right.
It’s not what you do that needs to be unique.
It’s the way you position yourself in the mind of your prospect that needs to be different.
For example, if you’ve recently started as an estate agent, what are you going to do to win customers?
Are you going to act exactly the same way as the company you’ve just left, the one that trained you?
Or is there going to be something different, something unique about your message, your brand, your approach?
Now, in order to set yourself apart, you need to know what normal looks like to your prospect.
That means having conversations, enough of them to be able to map out what’s going on.
What does your prospect think, feel, believe about the world around them.
What are they happy with, what doesn’t work, what’s frustrating, what do they really want to fix?
All these questions help you explore the minds of your prospects and, as you wander around, you may come across a piece of mental real estate that’s unclaimed, something that you can make your own.
Somewhere you can plant a flag and stake a claim.
Planting your flag
The act of putting your flag in the ground is a decisive one – it means you now have an intent, an end goal, a place to call your own.
And there is a power to doing this – you can now look at every option you have and discard the ones that do not directly contribute to achieving your goal.
For example, I have been writing this blog for a few years now – writing every day.
I had no real plan for the blog at first, I wanted to write, but I wasn’t sure what to write about and I wanted to give myself time to work that out, work on developing a voice and a style.
I used the blog to help me read and learn, finding out what interested me and what didn’t, discovering which ideas were useful and which weren’t.
So far, I was wandering the territory of the mind, looking around – just exploring.
On the 26th of May 2020 I decided that I would start a project to write a book and planted an idea flag.
I briefly described my plan in a post and came up with a working title for the book.
And the act of doing that has made subsequent decisions extremely simple.
Especially when it comes to getting started.
I have a box filled with paper slips that set out the structure of the book and every day I take out the next slip and write that section.
But you have to be kind to yourself.
Everything is a work in progress
You have to realise that just because you’ve planted your flag that doesn’t mean that you’re done and can rest now.
That’s just the beginning, you now need to cultivate, to build on, to develop that patch of intellectual territory you’ve staked a claim to.
In my case these posts are a first draft, fleshing out the ideas on those slips, creating a form and argument with words.
I have to give myself permission to create – badly if necessary – but to create.
I need the words on the page, however badly written, however inadequate, because it’s only when these words are down that I can go back and edit and rearrange and trim and improve.
Until the words are down the book is just an idea.
Just like any project you may have.
So, be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to be rubbish – it’s okay to create stuff that you aren’t proud of.
It’s more important to create, to make a start, to get going – because once you have something you can make it better.
You can’t improve something that doesn’t exist in the first place.
Planting an idea flag gives you a place to call your own, a patch of mental territory you can now work.
But you’ll need to give yourself time – time to till the land, get rid of the rocks, create a fertile soil for your ideas and plans.
And that’s what we’ll look at next.