It was awkward.

A colleague had asked me to revise a sales letter he’d commissioned. He called it “run of the mill.” He wanted me to “bring it to life.”

It was rather ordinary copy, and bringing it to life required changing nearly 30% of it.

But the problem wasn’t the work. It was the fact that the writer, a successful copywriter, was a friend of mine.

I worried that Sarah (not her real name) would be upset I had changed it so much. And that because she was upset, she would “veto” my revisions.

Happily, she didn’t. After reviewing my edits (not knowing it was I who had made them), she sent a letter to my colleague acknowledging the copy was better. She promised to learn from the corrections and “write at that level next time.”

I remember seeing that response and thinking: “Sarah is going to be really, really good.”

This story has two morals:

The first is about pride and its opposite (humility). If you want to accomplish great things and/or learn complex skills, some amount of pride is necessary to push yourself forward. But false or overreaching pride (Aristotle’s term was “hubris”) is a major obstacle.

Sarah was an accomplished copywriter. If I had to rank her against her peers, I’d say she was, at that time, in the top 20%. She’d earned the right to argue with my changes, but she didn’t. The pride she had in herself had brought her so far as a writer already. In this case, at least, she wasn’t going to let false pride halt her progress.

False pride is a very common problem among copywriters — no, among every sort of writer. But when writers believe — or desperately want to believe — their writing is above reproach, they damage their careers because they can no longer benefit from learning from others.

This is equally true for musicians, tennis players, salsa dancers, sumo wrestlers, and CEOs. Those who are willing to say “I am good, but I can learn to do better” do better. Those who say “I am the greatest. Nobody knows more than I” are almost sure to take a serious tumble.

Ego. Selflessness. Pride. Humility. Confidence. Fear. There are so many emotions that play a part in personal development. What you want in your career is the confidence that follows accomplishment, not the pride that precedes a fall.

Or, to put it differently: No matter how good you are at what you do, there’s someone out there who can teach you something.

Think about your strongest skill — the talent or capability that is most important to the achievement of your main goal. Now ask: “Am I willing to acknowledge that there are people in my universe who are better at this than I am?”

If you can accept the possibility that there are others better than you, then you can learn from them. If you extend this perspective, you’ll realize that you can learn specific things from people who don’t have your overall mastery.

And now we come to the second moral of this story: The only good way to improve a skill is to practice it. Reading about it is certainly helpful. Talking about it with people who are experts may work, too. But no amount of reading and talking will do nearly as much as regular, focused practice.

Human beings are designed to get better through practice. Everything we ever learn to do — from walking to talking to writing concertos — gets better through practice. Practice makes our fingers move faster, our hearts beat stronger, our brains think smarter.

Or think of it this way: Nothing in nature stays the same. If you’re not getting better, you’re only getting worse.

And that’s what Sarah should know about her future as a copywriter. If she continues to practice her craft — while taking advantage of everything she can learn from more experienced and skillful copywriters — the likelihood that she will be great one day is better than 99%.

With practice and a willingness to keep learning, Sarah will one day be among the very best copywriters in the business.

So here’s the program for greatness:

  • Have pride in yourself — enough pride to expect that at any given moment, you will do the best job you can.
  • Know that getting better begins with the recognition that there are people out there in the world who know things you don’t and can do some things better than you. Have the humility to seek out such people.
  • As your skills improve and your reputation for skillfulness spreads, resist the lure of false pride. Cultivate humility. Be confident in what you know but open to learning new things.
  • And make learning and improving your skills through practice a lifelong habit.

Editor’s Note: Mark’s offering a free three-day educational training event. He’ll explain the ideas behind his favorite wealth-building methods. And as a bonus, Mark will send you several income-generating project ideas you can start implementing right away. It all culminates with a two-hour webinar event on Thursday.

 

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Don’t Invest In a Career. Here Is Everything You Can Do To Build a Life

The world is changing rapidly. The way we live has already changed. The way we work keeps changing. Entire industries are crumbling. Robots are eating jobs. People are scared of losing their jobs. Nobody is safe.

But people are empowered to express themselves more than ever. The opportunities to create, to become a part of a global conversation and transformation are now more than you can ever imagine. There are now more free online resources to help you start and pursue your life’s work.

You can take your idea, business, or career, and turn it into something truly successful and amazing. It’s easier to transform your passion into your job than finding a job that matches your what you love to do.

What will you do with that?

What will your place be in this new, interesting world? Will you have a voice? Will you be a creator, or just a consumer?

You can do something.

Do something interesting, meaningful, different, amazing and truly remarkable. You have a choice. Choose to show your most amazing work to the world.

Inappropriate attention to detail is the reason why you have not launched your work. By all means, get it right but don’t aim for perfection.

Constantly push to evolve your ideas, even if you are not ready to launch your life’s work yet. Don’t get stuck!

“Whatever you dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”  Goethe

Be a part of the conversation, and say something remarkable. Create something unique, new, beautiful. Build upon the works of others and transform it into your own.

Don’t be subject to the tyranny of “how things have always been done”. Find your true north and push past the default.

Here is everything you can choose to do to build a life that matters to you

Start a blog, write at least a little each day. Write a book. Or an ebook. Share your tips with others online or through a free ebook. Write poetry and publish it on the web. Create interesting, lovely or funny videos, put them on You Tube.

Create an app that will solve a problem in people’s lives. Become a watchdog to replace the faltering newspapers. Explore the world, and blog about it.

Try something you’ve always been afraid to try, and put it on video. Be yourself, loudly. Start a new company, doing only one thing, but doing it very well.

Start a business that does a service you’ve always wanted, or that you are frustrated with in other companies because the service sucks. Put your heart into something.

Say something that no one else dares to say. Do something others are afraid to do. Help someone no one else cares to help. Make the lives of others better.

Make music that makes others want to weep, to laugh, to create. Inspire others by being inspiring. Teach young people to do amazing things. Write a play, get others to act in it, record it. Empower others to do things they’ve never been able to do before.

Read, and read, and then write. Love, and love, and then help others to love. Do something good and ask others to pass it on. Be profound. Find focus in a world without it.

Become minimalist in a world of dizzying complexity. Reach out to those who are frustrated, depressed, angry, confused, sad, hurt. Be the voice for those without one. Learn, do, then teach.

Meet new people, become fast friends. Dare to be wrong. Take lots and lots of pictures. Explore new cultures. Be different. Paint a huge mural. Create a web comic. Be a dork, but do it boldly.

Interview people. Observe people. Create new clothes. Take old stuff and make new stuff from it. Read weird stuff. Study the greats, and emulate them.

Be interested in others. Surprise people. Cook great food, and share it. Be open-minded. Help someone else start a small business. Focus on less but do it better.

Give people a ride in your car. Use Uber to your advantage. Start an online shop on Shopify. Create and sell stuff on Etsy.

Help others achieve their dreams. Put a smile on someone’s face, every day. Start an open-source project. Make a podcast. Start a movement. Be brave. Be honest. Be hilarious. Get really, really good at something. Practice a lot. A lot. Start now. Try.

If you’re willing to take the risk of sharing yourself and your ideas with the world, you can create value you will be proud of.

Show up everyday and work on your most important life work. Whether the outcome is magnificent or eternal, whether it changes people’s lives, changes the world, changes you or groundbreaking, it matters that you show up.

By focusing on doing the one thing that excites you, you not only give yourself a shot at putting in the effort to become amazingly great at something, but you also make it easier for potential customers or employers to see you as “the guy who’s really great at that thing.”

If you pursue your dreams long enough, compounding takes effect. Momentum will surge. Don’t give up just yet.  Action begets outcome. Outcome begets action. Rinse, lather and repeat and you have momentum. You’ll become unstoppable.

Start. Move, make, create, ship, do. Just start. That’s what entrepreneurs do. They start. They start something. Sometimes it is something big. Sometimes it is a big failure. Either way, they got stuff done.

Don’t invest in a career. Build a life. Take your dreams seriously.

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