Serendipity

Making progress in life has plenty of serendipity in it.

It is hard to ignore the fact that MySpace was on the decline when Facebook was in the midst of their pseudo grassroots rollout to colleges. Hard to ignore Apple’s immense success following the release of the iPhone when the market was struggling to figure out what a smartphone was going to be and Apple released the simplest solution to the problem.

The rest of the time, you are left to make success on your own. Waiting for markets to be right means you might never go to market. Whereas finding the right first customer will always make a sale.

There are few guarantees in finding the right customer. You have to pick your customers and sell to them. Over and over again you sell to them. There will be many customers not buying before your first customer buys. Some of them will not be ready. Others will not understand. And yet, some will still just be afraid.

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But after your first customer buys, you will sell to your second customer some time later.

Then your third a little less time later.

Never will you have your third customer without your first two.

Likewise, your fourth is not without your third.

Your continuing to sell is what will lead to the right moment. You continued to be who you are until you found your right customer.

Who is your right customer? What does it look like for you to sell the way you are not the way you think you should be? How can you try more often to spread the word about your work?

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The Underbelly

I recently ran into this graphic of what it is like to work on a project. How you spend all this time in the underbelly of the project or system, and so little time actually engaging what is going on.

The hot, new, sexy thing is on top. Meanwhile, the whole rest of the project is the seventy percent of the iceberg you cannot see and it can sink your boat. Everyone wants the top of the iceberg, nobody want to spend the time building the bottom of the iceberg where all the work is.

The part of the iceberg where you are drowning because of the anxiety of the enormity of the project you are working on.

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The part where you want to give up.

The part where you are not sure how you are going to afford to pay your bills and keep going.

The part of a project, process, or story where everyone is most engaged and involved is in the underbelly. The start of the project is happy and easy and nobody seems to care. The end of the project is the obvious conclusion of what everyone expected.

The underbelly is where everything gets interesting.

Are you really going to give up now that things are finally interesting? How do you keep your goal and end in sight while you are in the underbelly of the story? What did you do the last time you encountered the underbelly of a project? How are you preparing for the underbelly of the next project?

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The Enemy of My Enemy

When I was a kid, I would go to my school for summer daycare/summer school/summer babysitting. It was me and a bunch of other kids and classmates all hanging out through the summer with a bit of 'adult supervision.' Very little of my time was educational during these months. Most of my time was hanging out, sweating in the sun, playing basketball, Legos, or just being kids for the most part. I did this for a few years from kindergarten through third grade while on the retirement sandbar of Florida. 

Over these summers, my friends would play G.I. Joe’s There were good guys, bad guys, and the desolation in between. Generally, I was not wanted when my friends would play G.I. Joe’s. I would ask to play, they would decline. I would watch for hours, never invited. I tried many different tactics over these summers. Pretty much all of my tactics ended the same, me wandering away spinning myself on the merry-go-round or watching cars driving by the fence. *cue world's smallest violin* However, one day I had an especially creative way to get to play.

I was watching my friends play with their action figures and they were combating the evil COBRA and their dastardly plan to take over the world. As I was watching, I noticed the COBRA could not fight back. They sat there, inanimate, and docile, sitting ducks if you will . What fun could it be to defeat an enemy without a brain? I found my way in. I would be their enemies. I would be the brain behind their opposition. I would be able to play G.I. Joe’s with too!

I too had a place to play. I too had the ability to join in. My scheming did not end there. After much asking and convincing, they let me play as the COBRA opposition. They decided I was a worthy opponent, if not only to be destroyed relentlessly. After a few thorough beatings, I was finally able to make the transition. The figurine I had identified as the second in command of the COBRA Command wanted to defect to the other team. They were resistant. They did not want another player in the game. 

They wanted an enemy. 

They did not want me to be playing with them.  

They wanted to beat their enemy. I was their enemy. After a time, I was still able to defect. I joined the G.I. Joe Real American Hero team. As the summer drew on, I was able to continue to be the bad-guys each day, I would defect, taking less and less time as the summer drew on. They even allowed me to join the G.I. Joe’s from the beginning. 

I was persistent. I was unwanted. I found a way to step over the boundary and become more than I was given credit for. 

What obstacles in your life are you giving up on? What obstacles in your life are you not taking the time to overcome? What opportunities are you missing out on?

COBRA Defector,

–JT