When we're on a roll with a project or goal, it can feel like we've initiated a chain reaction where the next step happens without much effort. Just like dominoes toppling one after another, we can literally see our momentum carrying us forward. There's some danger in this approach, though. First, the momentum can carry us farther down a path than we intended to go (without more evaluation). In business, this can happen when you outgrow your cash. Fast-growing revenues are great, but you likely have to pay for your inventory or production first. Personally, this cycle often leads to exhaustion if I don't pace myself. Domino theory can help with that too.
We're all looking for the next big thing, the idea or invention that will propel us to success. It's taken me a decade, but I think I finally get it. Here's the secret: There is no "one thing." It doesn't exist, and it never will. At first, that seems like bad news - like our bubble just popped. But it's not. It's actually really good news. It means we can stop waiting and searching. We can just start where we are, with the ideas we have, taking small steps every day. It's so much simpler. Think about it this way: Business is pushups.
Yesterday, I shared a formula for getting a raise - and continuing to get them. (By the way, this works for employees, freelancers, and entrepreneurs.) The very first step is to consistently add value, and that almost certainly requires that you keep learning. Did you know that 42% of college graduates never pick up a book again? Ever. And that 80% of U.S. families did not buy or read a book in the last year? Ouch. In my experience, people stop earning more right about the time they stop learning more. You can coast, but only in one direction - downhill. Now for the great news.
I've been asked this question a few times in recent weeks, so here's my take on how to ask for a raise (and how to build a cycle for continued increases). The formula is the same whether you're an employee, freelancer, or business owner. Read more to see the four simple steps I've seen work hundreds of times.
It's hard to believe this day is here already. On November 1, I threw down a challenge to myself. It went like this: "I can memorize verses and inspirational quotes. I can write down my goals and action lists every week. But none of that matters if I don’t live it out. I’ve realized that every day is a test. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate my faith and my priorities – mainly to myself. If I let anxiety or worry or busyness distract me too much, I’ve failed my test for that day. This month, I’m setting the bar low. My test for each day is to post a complete thought or observation to this blog, sometime before midnight." I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said that I was 100% confident that I could do it. History wasn't in my favor. But the results surprised me, and they might surprise you too.
If you ever played video games, you're familiar with cheat codes. My favorite one worked on most of my original Nintendo games. Sometimes it made the game easier. Sometimes it made my character stronger. Sometimes it just made cool stuff happen. It was just a game. There wasn't any harm, and it made the experience more enjoyable. But my "cheating" was always limited to video games. In school, I was taught that building on (and using) the knowledge of others was wrong. We were taught to solve problems "the long way," and in the most important tests, we couldn't rely on anyone or anything for advice. There's nothing inherently wrong with any of those things, except that those modes of thinking don't apply well to the real world.
When we're just getting started, focusing on the trivial details is often just another name for procrastination. Instead of doing work that matters, we worry about stuff that doesn't. Before this month, this was a huge obstacle for me when it came to writing. I would worry about having the perfect environment with just the right amount of background noise. I'd doubt my ability to write at the end of the day. I'd even research the best software for facilitating writing or go to "meetups" with other writers to learn helpful tips.
At an event, we often seek the "it" person to meet and connect with. We wait for the perfect opportunity to make an impression, always looking to climb to the next rung. I can replay that scene in my mind over and over again. Maybe it was a great speaker, a community leader, or an up-and-coming business owner. I've done it dozens of times and would likely have taken that approach again. Even though it almost never produces any fruit. Thinking back now, I can't recall a single meaningful relationship that started this way. So when Pastor Bil shared this thought today, it struck me as one of the most profound things I've ever heard.