Last week I was inspired by a tweet from Larry Kim on how to succeed with zero talent.
This got me thinking about how, when I was a college student, I may have had some talent, but I was starting from nothing. I’ve come a ways in the past 20 or so years since I graduated (I hope), but I’m always trying new things, and I’ve long been interested in how you go from zero to expert at something as quickly as possible– how to succeed when starting from scratch. I don’t claim to have all of the answers, so I jotted down a short list and then asked readers on LinkedIn to add tangible actions they take, or consider fundamental, to changing their current circumstance and starting from where they are, turn over a new leaf to “start from scratch.” This is what we came up with:
Be teachable/humble and ready to learn
Andrea Moutsko quoted Socrates, writing “I only know one thing, that I know nothing” and followed up with “Understand and accept the magnitude of your own ignorance.” As a third year electrician apprentice, he’s intimately aware of some things a lot of us have to learn the hard way. If you don’t know what’s in there, sticking your finger in the socket might be the shortest path, but also the most dangerous way to receive a new lesson.
Many of your comments had to do directly with mindset and its impact on learning. Janel York brought up Growth Mindset.
Carol Dweck wrote the book on mindset. She defines it writing, “In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening.” When I was reflecting on my own path as I developed The 7 Systems of Influence, I recognized a shift in myself.
Before I changed, I got stuck in a grind. I was taking one step after another because the steps were right in front of me. I wasn’t open to other options, but as I changed my own life, I started to see the multitude of paths. Just that willingness to be open is a catalyst to discovering new paths to your own success.
If we put Andre and Carol’s and my experiences together, starting over means giving the world a fresh look while respecting that we have a lot to learn. Sometimes that learning comes from going to the great masters. Other times it means just diving in.
Consider your family and your community
Wendy Zhou said “be there for your family.” Considering others is an important driver for change for so many of us. I know my family was a catalyst for my change. I wanted to be happy, and I wanted those I cared about to be happy too.
What we are talking about here are intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and how they feed off of one another. We can take actions to satisfy ourselves, but we can also do things because we want to do something for others. When we act to benefit our family and community we can actually tap into both intrinsic motivation – we get a great feeling when we reach out, and extrinsic – we can genuinely contribute to the wellbeing of others.
This balance is at the root of System 1 (vision) and System 7 (love) of the program. Vision is internal and intrinsic motivation. It’s what you want to see in the world. Love, empathy, excitement, goodwill and kindness are how we give that vision to the world in a way that helps others and brings them along.
Discover your purpose
In the process, some people call it going through the “muddy middle,” where things are murky and it’s hard to retain your vision and see how you will be able to realize it in the world, when you really focus and do the work, you can discover your purpose.
Bryan Christiansen wrote “figure out your purpose,” and that’s absolutely right. From vision, you don’t know how the vision will be realized in the world. It would be nice if we could just download our vision to others so they could just “get it,” but others have their own drives, motivations, frustrations, and they are on their own journey too. Purpose emerges as we work with, connect and influence others.
Take care of yourself
Enrique wrote “Invest in yourself mentally, emotionally and physically.” Thom said “put down the cell phone,” James posted “Embrace your mistakes,” and Janel added “Always do the right thing, even when no one is looking.” These are all ways of acknowledging our humanity and taking care of the mental and physical stress we put on ourselves when we are driving for something new in our lives. We want it, but we need to be ethical, be balanced and care for ourselves along the way.
Some of the other things we can do may seem mundane at first, but add up to real results over time. Sometimes they add up in such small but consistent proportions we forget that the mountain we build started by moving a little sand.
Some of those simple steps include:
When you are there you are more likely to do what you are there to do than if you go somewhere else. If you want to run your business, go to your office, your desk or your co-working space. Make it consistent and the discipline of it will reap benefits.
Be on time
Like showing up, setting a time and meeting it helps with your consistency and with your perception of yourself in the role you want to inhabit.
Make and keep commitments
A commitment could be as simple as “at the end of the day, write down three things that you learned.” It could be a statement, “I’ll call you tomorrow with four options for our partnership.” Whatever it is, making the commitment and following through sets the stage for your next step. You demonstrate your capacity and follow through to yourself and others by guess what? Following through.
Treating others the way you’d like to be treated goes a long way in business as it does in life. Kindness to a frustrated or flustered customer is more likely to result in resolution than any other way of responding. It might even open up the door to new opportunity.
Be helpful/focus on others
This is another part of that extrinsic motivation – contributing to others can in fact provide its own reward, both financial and interpersonal.
Download my “Start from Scratch” hit list, with nine practices you can start right now to create a better life, today. Tack it to a board or tape it to the wall by your computer, because isn’t every day another opportunity to “Start from Scratch?”Liked it? Share it!