Principles: InversionAug 25, 2021
Sometimes, the art of blogging becomes a messy affair; a tangled web of thoughts and ideas, and this can hurt us more than anything else.
Especially when we're starting out, when we have yet to develop much-needed instincts we can trust to guide us towards success.
Without this sort of mental clarity, most of our efforts are destined to fail.
Inversion, as a mental model, makes it easy, especially during our first venture into the unknown, to find the clarity we need to figure out a way forward.
Avoiding failure is easier than trying to succeed. Instead of asking, “How can I grow my audience?” you should ask yourself, “What’s hurting my growth and what steps can I take to avoid it?”
The road to success is paved with countless failures, and in 99% of the cases, all we have to do is avoid the potholes along the way.
For this reason, this is the first principle on our list. The foundation, if you will.
Take this lesson, for instance. Rather than focusing on how to write the perfect lesson, I am asking myself, “how can I avoid writing a bad lesson?”
What are the mistakes, what are the tell-tale sign of bad writing? What are the deadly sins of sharing knowledge?
Inversion is the unsexy art of success by avoiding failure. We are, by definition, risk-averse, and we’ll often go to extremes when it comes to avoiding something we dislike.
If the prospect of success feels overwhelming or frightens you, invert. Focus on avoiding failure, which is a sure-fire way to inadvertently become successful.
Avoid the Catastrophic by Expecting It
Even if it seems as if nothing can go wrong, something probably will.
It is the unexpected that often casts a veritable fog of war.
And, because we have something we want to "sell" others, be it a product, a service, or even a free blog or podcast, we must be wary of diving headfirst into the unknown.
Inversion helps us by providing us with the mental tools we need to prepare for the catastrophic.
We've always been taught to be optimists. To focus on the good. To not think about everything that could go wrong because then it might discourage us. It's been ingrained in our culture to "be positive" and reward the "positive vibes only" mantra.
But it's short-sighted.
Believe it or not, there are actually huge benefits to visualizing and thinking through what could go wrong.
In fact, most of my projects failed because I hadn't dared think of what could go wrong. Disaster, it seemed, was nothing more than the aftermath of a short-sighted form of enthusiasm.
How to Use This:
The Stoics believed that by imagining the worst-case scenario ahead of time they could overcome their fears of negative experiences and make better plans to prevent them.
We take advantage of inversion by imagining the worst-case scenario and preparing for it:
- What are the most common obstacles?
- What is it that you're struggling with?
- What is an area you feel you're trying too hard?
Instead of trying to succeed, ask yourself, "What could make me fail?"
Answering this question can help you realize what might hold you back.
Do you want more traffic, leads, or customers? Instead of asking how you can increase the number, ask yourself what could prevent you from increasing the number.
"What if my goals are too optimistic?"
"What if I have yet to understand my target audience?"
Considering everything that could go wrong, change, or get in the way will help you when those things inevitably do happen to some degree or another.
Consider the Opposite
Before you aim for success, consider avoiding failure. Pretend, just for a moment, that you are indeed headed for failure without even realizing it.
What can you do to prepare?
"Best practices" will give advice as if it's set in stone. But life is fluid. Very few things are black and white.
A Better Way
Comfort is often the enemy of innovation, and believe it or not, aiming for success is comfortable.
We are often pulled by an inspiring vision. It is this vision of future success that often fuels our enthusiasm. It is why whenever we start something new, we feel the rush, the adrenaline, the energy to do, to learn, to achieve.
However, we are ill-prepared to face the many obstacles that will surely come our way.
At the same time, it is often this enthusiasm that fuels a fragile ego that can be bruised easily if something does go wrong.
Failure is inevitable, so it makes a lot of sense to prepare for it.
A Dance With Failure
On the other hand, it often happens that our fear of failure can prevent us from acting in the first place.
But what if you decide to purposefully dance with failure before you even begin to work towards success?
Visualization is an incredibly powerful tool, and we can use it to better understand our fears.
Becoming comfortable with the result, even if you don't like it, can give you the resolve you need to act and overcome your fears.
Most often than not, the obstacle is the only way, success is but the by-product of how well we prepare for failure.
Be ready. Think of all the ways you can avoid the obstacle. Or climb over it. Or go on a different route.
Think of alternatives, of ways of conquering failure, rather than focusing on success.
Think in terms of "worst-case scenarios" and "problems to be solved" and you will be better equipped to venture into the unknown.
This is a lesson from our latest course, Principles of Blogging.
Highly successful bloggers don’t look for shortcuts. They use specific frameworks — timeless mental models that allow them to gain a birds-eye view of the blogging ecosystem and better understand their own journey towards the blogging stratosphere.
Without deploying these models, you may continue to spin your wheels and feel like everything is a grind. With them, things won’t be easy, but they’ll be more fun, creative, and vastly more effective.
Unlike the hacks, tricks, and tactics you’re used to reading about… these principles are timeless. These are rules for life. Rules of persuasion. Rules of marketing. Mental models. Practical philosophical principles.
There’s no expiration date for the timeless wisdom that’s been tested and applied across a multitude of fields for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
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