I’m often asked about the biggest lessons I’ve learned on my entrepreneurial journeys and the one I almost feel most compelled to share is this:
If you can stop focusing on what you will get out of your endeavors, and instead start focusing on how others will benefit, you will greatly increase your chances of success and, more importantly, fulfillment.
In fact, when you judge your actions by how they help, you actually can’t fail. Even if the whole gig doesn’t take off in the way you had imagined, I guarantee you’ll have helped at least a few people, and that gives you something money can never buy: meaning.
While our current culture idolizes money and fancy stuff, don’t discount the immense value of meaning and purpose. The knowledge that what you did mattered to people, and that you touched and even changed them in a way that is uniquely yours, nourishes the spirit in a way that cash never can.
This is why I make the time to answer every email, Website comment, and social media message that I get and never ask for or expect anything in return…and this is why I’ve done just that since the beginning of my fitness career, when all I had was one book newly published with no Website, no following, and no connections.
I had no idea if people were really going to resonate with me or my work, but I knew that I could help them get into the best shape of their lives. And, it turns out, people were shocked to learn that I actually cared enough to offer such “no-strings-attached” help.
Some people use purported help as a thinly veiled method of selling more stuff. “That’s a good question! Buy my product to find out how!” the lame “guru” says, instead of taking the extra 20 seconds to type the simple answer.
I have more faith in people, I guess. I figure if I just be as helpful as possible, it’ll come back to me more often than not, even if just in goodwill.
And, ironically, the “give me your money to get an answer” model is horribly inefficient. If someone’s only goal is to sell things, there are much easier and effective ways to go about it that involve no back-and-forth communication with people whatsoever. Witness the many companies advertising and selling what one scammer I know aptly called “pills in a bottle.”
While I’m able to put food on the table thanks to people buying my stuff, I see the financial rewards as secondary to things like this, which I get to read every day:
That’s just cool. I could never get that feeling from buying or showing off stuff. In fact, the only way I could get that from money is by using it to help others (which is why I make regular charitable donations and have been for years now).
So, whether you’re facing the daunting task of starting something new or are stuck in a seemingly impossible position without any clear way out, instead of fretting over your fate, look at how you could possibly use the experience to benefit others. It doesn’t have to be about you all the time.
You might be surprised how calming this shift of viewpoint is and how much can be salvaged from what you thought was a disaster.