Success in any endeavor, in any aspect of your life, requires opportunities.
Opportunities to make profitable use of talents. Opportunities to present ideas to the right people. Opportunities to create the right products.
Everyone knows this, but here’s something everyone doesn’t know:
Opportunities are whispers, not foghorns.
What do I mean?
Every day, everywhere you go, soft lilts of opportunity can be heard. But most people aren’t tuning in correctly. Instead of carefully listening for murmurs, they’re rushing about, waiting for thunderclaps of revelation, inspiration, and certainty.
Well, that’s not how the world works.
Opportunities are whispers, not foghorns.
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My career in the fitness industry has been a bit of a rocket ride.
Just in this last year, I’ve sold over 100,000 books; started this website, which is quickly becoming the most popular fitness blog on the Internet; and launched my own line of workout supplements, which is already profitable.
What’s most interesting about the story, however, is how it started–the opportunity.
A couple years ago, I had a full-time job and wrote Bigger Leaner Stronger in my free time. I self-published the book on Amazon’s Kindle platform at a price of $2.99, not really expecting much to come of it. I didn’t have a website. I didn’t have connections. I didn’t even have a plan beyond “publish the book, and see if anyone cares.”
It sold less than 20 copies in the first month, and got its first positive review. “That’s cool,” I thought, not giving it more attention than that.
It sold about double that the next month, and a couple more reviews, which also earned a nod, but nothing more.
A couple months later, it broke 100 sales in a month, and although the project had only made me a few hundred bucks altogether, that’s when I started to wonder if this could go somewhere. Many years ago I had wanted to make my living writing, but had no idea how to go about it.
I wasn’t about to quit my job though. I was good at it, I enjoyed the work, and I was making good money for my age. It was comfortable, and I could easily just continue along,
But every day, when I took a moment for myself, my mind wandered to the same, fleeting thought:
Could I actually succeed as a fitness author? Could I make a living doing something I was truly passionate about?
I dismissed the musings for the first couple of months. There were plenty of reasons to not go there. It’s a very competitive industry–almost cutthroat. Getting noticed was sure to be hard–almost impossible, maybe. I had bills to pay and debt to handle, so I couldn’t afford a dramatic cut in my income.
I kept telling myself that risking my stable, well-paying job to chase a siren’s call was stupid, but there it was, every day, whispering in my ear.
Couldn’t you be putting your skills to better use?
I had to decide. Was this an actual opportunity or an invitation to disaster?
I decided to pursue the whisper. For an hour or two each night, I worked on revising Bigger Leaner Stronger based on reader feedback, and then started on the next book, Muscle Myths. I also started my first website, which was simply known as “Mike Matthews Fitness.”
I did various things to increase the visibility of Bigger Leaner Stronger such as enrolling it in book giveaways, running some ads on Facebook, and contacting various people in the fitness industry, offering to send them books to review. Sales increased, and I used the money to pay off credit card debt I had accumulated.
Several months later, I recruited a friend to work with me on a part-time basis (Jeremy, for those of you who have emailed with him), and while I worked on the writing (Cardio Sucks was next, followed by The Shredded Chef), he worked on growing the book sales.
Jeremy’s part-time work grew into a full-time position, and by the end of 2012, I was starting to make enough money to consider quitting my job to focus wholly on the fitness game.
It might sound like a no-brainer type of decision, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t making a lot of money yet, and past success wasn’t any guarantee of future results. Who knows, maybe my work would just come and go like many other authors of all genres.
Well, to make a long story short, I took the leap, and now, a year later, book sales are still rising, this website is exploding in popularity, and I have an awesome team of friends working with me, and together we’re doing all kinds of fun stuff.
But remember: It started with a whisper, not a foghorn. It started with an opportunity that seemed like an impossible long shot, not a signed and sealed gift from the Almighty.
If you’ve had trouble finding opportunities to advance your career, income, or any aspect of your life, really, you might be making the mistake of listening for foghorns, not whispers.
Most opportunities would never announce themselves with trumpets and confetti. They never come with a 110% money-back guarantee. They’re often nothing more than chances to improve on something other people are already doing.
So, listen to the world a little more carefully today. There is never a shortage of opportunities, only a shortage of people that can hear them.