“How To” Is Less Than Half Of The Equation For Success

Jan 28, 2020 | Newsletter

Tara McMullin is a writer, podcaster, and producer who explores what it takes to navigate the 21st-century economy with your humanity intact. Click here to support this work.

I used to think business was all about the nuts & bolts.

If I used the right tactics and took the right action, I’d win.

So I did that. I followed the trends, learned everything that I could, and implemented ruthlessly.

It worked for a while–I built a great business that helped thousands of people build offers, market their work, and make good money.

But little by little, I started to feel burnt out.

Honestly, not only did I feel tired & overwhelmed, but I felt like an important piece of the puzzle was missing. Things felt hollow.

At the same time, I grew frustrated that I could see people succeeding far beyond what I’d accomplished doing many of the same things I was doing. Why were things working so much better for them?

A first, it was frustrating. Very frustrating.

Then, I got curious. Why were things working so much better for them? Certainly, there had to be a reason.

Here’s what I figured out.

First, my colleagues had incredibly strong habits. 

They were committed to working on their businesses with clear routines and practiced implementation.

Second, their actions fit into patterns that were pretty different than mine:

  1. They practiced restraint. They didn’t try to do all the things at once, even if they could have. They held back, kept things simple, and carefully prioritized the few things that were going to make a difference.
  2. They stayed consistent. They weren’t erratic or overly spontaneous. They followed through day after day on the small things that were moving their businesses forward.
  3. They were patient. They didn’t expect overnight results–and were often surprised when amazing things did happen seemingly overnight! They planned for the long-term and stuck with those plans.
  4. They were courageous. They weren’t risky but they didn’t play it safe, either. They embraced uncertainty. They pushed through when things felt hard and they did things that broke through their self-imposed limits.

Once I realized all this, I knew I had some serious work to do.

This was way less about the how-tos and way more about how they approached their businesses day in and day out. It was way less about the nuts & bolts (although, of course that’s important) and way more about trusting themselves.

If the “how to” was less than half of it, I needed to lean into what had always seemed squishy, personal, or disposable––but was actually a key missing piece to success.

That’s what I’ve spent the last 3 or so years doing.

In the last 3 years, I’ve grown up a lot:

  • My personal accountability–my ability to follow through without outside consequence–is through the roof
  • My willingness to work the system–instead of jumping on the latest bandwagon or chasing a flight of fancy–has skyrocketed
  • My proclivity for self-sabotage–mucking things up when things are going well–is starting to dissipate

I’m a different person than I was 3 years ago. And, my business is a different business than it was then.

Now, I’m not telling you all this to pat myself on the back, although I’m very proud of the hard work I’ve put into myself and my business.

I’m telling you all this because change is possible.

If you’ve been struggling with implementing the nuts and bolts and seeing less-than-exciting results…

If you’ve been challenged by your tendency to turn simple enough plans into complex or erratic implementation…

If you’ve been pulled in so many different directions by ideas, trends, or changes in the market that you don’t know which way is up anymore…

…there’s a different way.

This is the What Works ethos in a nutshell.

Do what works for you–with intention, with care, with an open mind and a clear plan.

Now, that can be easier said than done. Different kinds of entrepreneurs approach doing what works differently.

But every kind of entrepreneur–the Over-Achievers, the Rebels, the Multi-Taskers, the Diligent Deliberators–can benefit from smart habits. Which kind are you and how would you benefit? Click here to find out in the next post in this series!

What Works offers in-depth, well-researched content that strips away the hype of the 21st-century economy. Whether you love the podcast, the articles, or the Instagram content, we’d love your support