Author Stephen R. Covey is famous for pointing out that an airplane is off course at least 90% of the time.
His point was that if you have a personal mission statement, a clear picture of where you want to go and end up in life, even if you are off course much of the time, you can always return to your vision, get back on track, and eventually arrive at your chosen destination.
I can’t tell you how many times I have felt “close” to the life path I was meant to be on, but somehow a mile away from hitting the bull’s eye.
Have you ever felt that way?
As I’ve mentioned before, thinking and reflection time is essential for clarity. And during my 10-day break (concluding Thursday), I loosed projects and ideas, as well as any sense of rigidity or notions around where they should be headed.
On Thursday, much to my surprise, I started to see a picture form – a picture I hadn’t seen before. I could see the pieces as well as the connected whole, something I’ve struggled with a bit this past year, especially as I’ve been publishing daily.
What I began to see was that I wasn’t so far off course that I couldn’t see the destination anymore. I just thought I was.
Fatigue and exhaustion can easily cloud your judgment, making you feel worse about situations that probably aren’t half as bad as they appear. Which is why stopping periodically is essential.
But course correction is always part of the journey. It doesn’t matter who you are, how smart or talented you think you are. You will get off course from time to time. Don’t ever think that you’re too smart or too talented to stay on course 100% of the time. No one does.
If you think you’re too good to lose track of your destination, you will find yourself miles away from where you originally wanted to go.
Know when to make a correction. And if you aren’t sure, stop and ask for directions.
No journey will be as fulfilling as the one you’ve deliberately chosen and are walking out according to your values and character.
With that, here’s what I created for you this week:
David Andrew Wiebe
I publish daily to inspire creatives and creators just like you.
There’s a personal development program I’ve been through three times, and each time I go through it, I learn more about myself and what matters most to me. I’ve also been able to improve my health, grow my business, and challenge myself intellectually.
Most if not all marketers claim their courses are tested, proven, and foolproof.
To be fair, they’d be tone deaf to say otherwise, lest they desire less credibility and fewer sales.
But how many times have you followed their strategies, methodologies, and advice to a tee, only to find your results aren’t anything resembling what was promised?
Is there something wrong with the product? The way you applied the method? Your enthusiasm or lack thereof? The market you chose? The fact that you don’t look and sound like the expert teaching the material?
Knowledge is Past Based
People always seem to go gaga over data-backed, science-based, deeply researched pieces.
Marketing guru and serial entrepreneur Neil Patel says:
If you want to increase user engagement on your blog, generate more social shares, increase click-through rates, acquire more customers and drive sales, try switching content strategies to the data-driven blog post.
And yet, the part that we consistently miss is the fact that knowledge is past based. It is not rooted in anything other than observations, experiments, and opinions that have consistently proven true over a period.
As mathematician and philosopher Albert North Whitehead said:
The only use of a knowledge of the past is to equip us for the present. The present contains all that there is. It is holy ground; for it is the past, and it is the future.
At first brush, this might seem crazy. But think about it:
Observations are used to confirm reality.
Experiments are used to verify hypotheses.
Opinions are used to form data.
When a marketer says something is proven, all they’re really saying is that their method has worked for them and a select group of their students. Nothing more. It doesn’t mean their course is going to work for you.
Further, in a fast-paced, ever evolving field like web development, best practices and approaches change almost overnight. And this goes for digital marketing as a creative in any capacity.
New Answers in New Places
There’s a reason yesterday’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter’s users are today’s TikTok, Medium, Substack, and Clubhouse users.
Marketers are often looking to gain early adopter’s advantage, to be sure – and musicians are quick to embrace the new as well – but people’s interests also shift with time.
Misha Ketchell, editor of The Conversation admits the reason people leave a site like Facebook is a multi-layered, complex issue:
Many of those who delete Facebook speak of widely recognized reasons for leaving the platform: concerns with its echo chamber effects, avoiding time wasting and procrastination, and the negative psychological effects of perpetual social comparison. But other explanations seem to relate more to what Facebook is becoming and how this evolving technology intersects with personal experiences.
Regardless, we know that people migrate, just as we saw with MySpace.
“Today’s blogging is vlogging,” “Facebook is for boomers,” “Clubhouse will overtake podcasting,” the migrants say, parroting a catchphrase or meme they saw somewhere.
These views may be shared by many, but they aren’t necessarily true, even if they are true to the personality that’s embraced YouTube, the millennial that’s shunned Facebook, or the musician who came across experts on Clubhouse discussing concepts they’d never heard before.
These perspectives don’t need to be true. It’s more a matter of what is experienced by the end user, who found answers in new places they apparently couldn’t find in old ones, even if they were always there.
It is plausible, of course, that you may find success in new places you couldn’t create in old ones. But in my observation, without a strategy and a new approach, it seems a fool’s errand. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.
Is Success a Formula?
The trend of the day in the music industry might be trap beats and simplistic basslines with lazy, rhythmic, autotuned vocals.
If you don’t know what I mean, check out YouTube guitarist Stevie T parodying popular artist Drake:
And it would be easy to assume that today’s answer would be to follow this formula, maybe put a bit of your own spin on it and get your new release out into the world as quickly as possible.
But this isn’t today’s answer. It’s yesterday’s. It’s been in the zeitgeist for quite a while. And even if it does have some staying power, if you started an album project today with the assumption that this type of music would be just as popular a year from now, you might be well behind the eight ball, and your release could even flop (to say nothing of the need to build an engaged fan base and market your music to a wider audience).
The music you hear today wasn’t created today. It was created yesterday. You can build on yesterday’s formula, but there’s no guarantee that it will work.
Beliefs vs. Faith
If knowledge is past based, is anything present or future based?
Or, said another way, if yesterday’s answers don’t always ring true today, is there a way of tapping into today’s answers?
The answer is… it’s complicated.
See, there is a way to live your life from a space of future-based, limitless possibilities rather than past-based constrictions. It doesn’t necessarily give you access to all of today’s answers, but it does make new things possible in your life, in a world where we often end up repeating circumstances and situations because of our natural tendencies.
Just as knowledge is past based, so are beliefs. Beliefs are based on your experience and are built on what is familiar and predictable. Which is problematic when you’re trying to create new experiences in your life.
Faith, on the other hand, is all about the future. Faith says, “I don’t know what’s going to happen but I’m going to follow it anyway. Let’s see what happens.”
Here’s mindset and business coach Quazi Johir to explain how this works:
The Power of Intuition
In discussing beliefs and faith, one thing we can’t overlook is the power of intuition – the part of ourselves we often deny because we think our ideas might be too simplistic or too ridiculous to even work. In some cases, we even bottle ideas because of the fear of appearing foolish to others.
Intuition happens in the moment, and it doesn’t appear like a thought as much as it does a sudden flash of inspiration. That’s how you know it’s intuition and not a constipated brainstorm or a forced conclusion.
Whether it’s the divine calling your number, or the coalescence of thoughts and ideas is anybody’s guess. The point is it seemingly comes out of nowhere. Which also suggests that it’s a “now answer” rather than a “then answer.”
The power of intuition lies in its ability to empower you. When you listen to your intuition, you are guiding yourself. You are building trust in the one person you’ll always have with you. You are learning to give yourself what you need, instead of what you or other people want.
Intuition is all about trusting yourself, and it’s a powerful tool for uncovering today’s answers. It’s not easy to control (you can’t put a timeline on it), but it can be harnessed. Don’t miss the opportunity to follow your intuition as it points you in new directions.
So, does all this mean you should never lean on yesterday’s answers?
No, it doesn’t. Yesterday’s answers might still hold true today, or at the very least, form the foundation for today’s answers.
If I were building a house today, I wouldn’t reinvent the wheel. I would rely on time tested principles. A house serves a practical function, and there is practical, cost- and time-efficient solutions already.
When it comes to something as nuanced as creativity, music, digital marketing, or building a fan base, though, yesterday’s answers might not be today’s, and today’s answers might not be yesterday’s.
There’s always an element of trailblazing to anyone’s success, as no two success stories are exactly alike. Which is why your individuality and intuition matter so much.
But when you try something and it doesn’t work, don’t be discouraged. Rather, be vigilant about taking inventory of the lessons you learned along the way – not just what didn’t work, but also what did work.
The human brain has a natural tendency to give weight to (and remember) negative experiences or interactions more than positive ones – they stand out more. Psychologists refer to this as negativity bias.
Which means this – if you’re only focused on the negative, you’re only learning half the lessons you’re capable of learning. You’ve got to dig for the positive lessons too. Otherwise, by default, you’re surrendering 50% of your potential learning.
In closing, here are some questions you can ask to deepen your relationship to today’s answers:
What familiar and comfortable answers do you rely on?
Have these answers given you desired results, or have they led you off course?
Have you been vigilant in applying every aspect of these answers, following through on the courses as designed, or have you cherrypicked just the parts that appeal to you and tried to reinvent the wheel?
Examining the answers, you’ve held near and dear, have you identified any faulty assumptions you need to change?
Do you see any practical ways of tapping into today’s answers and not just yesterday’s? What are they?
If you were to follow today’s answers rather than yesterday’s, what would that look like?
Remember – the present contains all that is – the past and the future. What could you do to be more present in daily life?