Recently, I announced the opening of my marketing company, In The Cloud. This was an effort about six months in the making, so it was sort of a big deal. But it wasn’t just a big deal because of the effort I put into it or how many times I’d tried to do something like this and didn’t get to the execution part of the story. It was a big deal because I was going way outside of my comfort zone.
Sure, I manage a small team of writers at Top Shelf Copy, but the truth is that these days we only have one main client and one deadline a month to juggle. The stress level there is low, is what I mean. And we’re not offering other kinds of deliverables, just the wordy words. So, launching In The Cloud means something more.
Staying Positive and Keeping the Faith
Hey, I’m going all in on the hokiness today.
The truth is that I’ve been struggling really hard against Imposter Syndrome. I’ve told myself I’m not sure how many times that I can’t do the thing. I don’t have the background (I actually do), I don’t have the skills (that’s a bit more questionable) and I don’t deserve to accomplish this goal (meh).
I don’t deserve this. Because I’m not good enough.
But that’s just the Doubting Man doubting me. He’s a bit of an asshole, if you ask me. Never gives me much peace. I’m sure you have your own Doubting Man. It’s a common problem.
For the last six months, the Doubting Man has been at his old hijinks. Pulling the rug out from under me, punching me in the gut, making me cry when times get too tough. You should have seen him when I was entering uncharted territory (like I said, I’ve tried to do this before and failed). Take, for example, the first job I bid, just a week or so ago.
Suddenly I was worried about the price structure, whether our value-adds were really adding anything, if I was wearing the right colored shoes — if it could be worried about, I was worrying. Then there was the whole being responsible for other people’s livelihoods… which, I won’t lie, is a lot of pressure.
I mean, my people are freelancers, but asking them to invest a lot and get only a little back is still inhumane. I want them to do well. I want us to do well. I’ve been taking my own advice as I push forward through the Hell that is my own insecurity. This is faith in its most obvious and blatant form.
Tips for Surviving and Thriving in Success
Ah, you knew we’d come to the part of the story where I make a list. I love lists. I basically am just one big, walking list.
There are two types of barriers to success that are different, but basically the same: fear of success and fear of failure. Your anxiety might come from a different place, still, it ends up the same. You’re frozen, probably covered in your own tears and mucus, sitting on the floor eating the powder out of the bottom of an empty Cheetos bag.
Or is that just me?
Success is a weird thing. What I think makes me successful may make you think I’m ridiculous. And as I sit here pushing my fourth decade, I have to say that you can go fuck yourself. Life isn’t a contest, contrary to what we’ve all been taught. Your success is only quantifiable by you, that’s the first lesson.
Here are a few more:
It’s hard to know you’ve made it if you don’t have defined goals. I am constantly surprised by people who feel like they’re going nowhere, despite what looks like a lot of success in their current and previous efforts. It’s probably because they don’t realize they need goals. Little boxes to tick off. Otherwise, how will you know when you’ve achieved anything? This is a contest against yourself only, you have to set the goalposts.
Realize that your challenges are different than those of the next guy. Sure, your friend is doing amazing with their Etsy store that specializes in macaroni pictures of elves. They’re getting lots of orders and commanding a premium for their efforts. They work like 20 hours a day at it. Your writing business, on the other hand, isn’t making as many sales and you definitely can’t spend 20 hours a day in The Chair ™. No way. Although your company is growing, it’s happening much more slowly than your friend’s. Here’s the thing. Your friend’s big challenge is having anything else to fill their life with joy. Yours is that you’re trying to maintain a work/life balance. Don’t envy your friend, or compare yourself to them, you’re not even competing in the same type of sporting thing. (Go Sportsball!)
Understand that getting started is hard and everybody ebbs and flows. If you’re beginning to see a light at the end of your startup tunnel, keep marching. If you don’t, keep marching. Starting out is the hardest part and a lot of people give up *JUST* as they’re about to turn the corner. It’s tragic, really. Every one is going to have good days and bad days, good weeks and bad ones. If you totally flubbed last week’s orders, stand up, look yourself in the mirror and repeat this until you believe it: “I r gud riter.” Or, you know, something equally inspiring.
I know you can do it. You can. When you’re going through Hell, dudes, keep going. Also, if you’re lacking in inspiration, you could pop in on my friend InspiroBot. Its message for me today is that “Holes are just the beginning.”
Well put, InspiroBot. Well put. Holes are indeed just the beginning.