Action Cures Fear

Fear of Failure.

It’s what keeps entrepreneurs up at night, worried about their massive investments in capital and time.

Do I have the right idea? Have I developed it enough? Will it work?

Take Action Now

When I developed my first business, I spent three months developing an actionable plan that looked good enough on paper. Then I spent another three months implementing the site to perfection before I was ready to put it out to the world. Somehow those three months kept dragging on.

Finally, I just launched, even though it was a mess.

Your Well Thought Out Plan Sucks

In my business plan, I had specific targets to meet, for traffic goals and for promotions to get things done. However, it wasn’t nearly enough. I overestimated my effectiveness, and underestimated the complexity of the task at hand.

My lack of progress disturbed me, and I immediately questioned whether or not I was on the right track. I decided quickly that my idea was bad, and started thinking about the next one.

You’ll Need Much More Work than Anticipated

For my second online business, I committed to complete domination of my chosen niche.

This plan meant attacking from many fronts at once. For example, if you want to have a successful blog, the following is the standard work flow:

  • Create ideas for possible subjects
  • Develop ideas completely
  • Write article
  • Submit to social networks

And that seems like enough. But it isn’t. You must dominate, you must be better than at least 95% of everyone else.

So that means doing more:

  • Using Analytics
  • Split Testing Layouts
  • Developing Relationships with Publishers
  • Investing in Intelligence
  • Publishing elsewhere
  • Developing a Brand
  • Becoming a (micro) Celebrity

Understand, the people of the top 95% of any field get a disproportionate number of the results. Being just slightly better than the competition means a landslide more money and eyeballs.

The only way to get better is to work more and work smarter.

You Will Fail at Least 66% of the Time, Even at Your Peak

That’s a hard statistic to deal with, but it’s true. At least 66% of what you’re doing will be ineffective and ignored. It’s hard to be detached and say that one of your grand ideas didn’t work. It’s even harder to come back after your ego’s been beat up.

Something I’ve found helpful to maintain a positive mindset is to assume a negative result in every endeavor. I learned the technique from Winning Through Intimidation.

Basically, the majority of projects you attempt will fail. So have many more projects at one than you anticipate needing. Then be prepared for failure, to keep a positive perspective. When you win, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Use More Action to Build More Momentum

A question most every entrepreneur asks themselves is:

“Why am I putting so much work in to get so little out?”

Action builds momentum. You move first, and then you measure the results later. You can only refine after you’ve made mistakes. So start making mistakes in piles. Eventually, you’ll have a success, mostly by accident. Take that and build upon it.

Your capacity to produce will increase as you push harder. You will become more specialized and more adept, but it does require an initial leap of faith.

Take the plunge and get to work.

You Must Become a Reality Merchant

Everybody wants to feel strong and powerful, and in control of their reality.

However, our society grows more disconnected every day. Rapid advances in technology render todays learning obsolete by tomorrow. We are losing the immediate knowledge of our own security.

Reality Merchants Build Worlds

This fragmentation is creating a new space, for people who create imaginary worlds of order. In the same way our direct experience used to fulfill our needs as humans, these synthetic worlds will take on the new role of fulfilling our need for a predictable world.

That Give Order Out of Chaos

A synthetic reality can be anything, a web site, a religion, a conspiracy theory, a game. The only thing a synthetic reality must do is provide an escape hatch, a way to fulfill one of the eight basic human needs.

A way for people to feel in control, even if only virtually. Apple sells realities for people, to feel cool, to experience a different sort of reality compared to the one PC users live within.

Paul Graham recently addressed how Reality Merchants are using technology to create more immersive worlds, going to higher levels of addictiveness through exploits in human psychology.

This is only going to get more subtle, more advanced, more seductive.

Deriving Power Through Gatekeeping

When do you know you’ve arrived to a position of authority?

Last weekend, I visited my friends on Warped Tour. It’s a traveling music festival targeted at the teen “punk” segment.

I got to go backstage, and see the split between people “with the musicians”, versus the people who had paid the $40 admission fee. I also got to the artists speak about the business people within music, the “suits”.

For the fans, there is nothing more seductive than to be a piece of the artist’s world. They are true believers in the ideas and concepts presented by the specific artists.

For the artists, there’s nothing more seductive than to be chased by suits. Suits are the people who control the money, who control the big venues. Gaining access to the suits means a guaranteed place in the music industry.

And Controlling the Dreams of the Seduced

It’s a cycle. When we were younger, we worshipped the musicians. And then we got older, and they became the successful musicians they had dreamed of.

Through both sides of the equation, the gatekeepers of the reality of music made their profit. And through more cycles, they will continue to exploit both sides of the equation.

The fans need the artists, and the artists need the suits. They are both reality merchants, but the suits are the supreme reality merchants. They create the entire context within which music and fandom and stardom and wealth occurs.

They give artists the justification and success they desire, and they give fans the opportunity to live within the artist’s world.

Power structures exist because people want models to live their lives by.

Even a dream as seductive as being a successful musician isn’t free from the people who would like to dictate realities.

The question becomes:

Where do we derive our authority? Externalities from above?


Are we really choosing our own dreams? Or have they been designed long ago by some seductive reality merchant?