Idealism vs Realism

Reality is a pretty subjective idea for most people.  Your version of “reality” and my version of “reality” are usually a little bit different.

The variation in our versions of reality usually comes down to our different levels and types of idealism.

In simple terms, we can both see the same thing and we’ll agree 90% of what we see, but the 10% difference will be largely a result of how we “want” to see things.

Sometimes these variations in idealism become intractable – a great example of this is modern politics where people have very polarizing points of view.  Other times, the differences are quite minor – the soup is too salty or that person isn’t very attractive.

What’s fascinating to me is how you see people inject idealism into their business ahead of having a cold hard acceptance of reality.

I’m going to be completely blunt here, you simply can’t succeed at building and running your business while wearing rose coloured glasses.

Don’t believe me?  Spend some time on FB looking at people who spend a disproportionate amount of their time talking about manifesting success through wishful thinking or how they’re a special unicorn.  Then go back and look at how long they’ve been saying this kind of thing – you’ll usually find this is their pathology and they’ve been doing it for a long time.

Yet being a unicorn hasn’t seemingly manifested them the success they wanted.

No problem, the universe just isn’t ready for their brilliance yet.

Maybe what they need is to change business models again for fourth or fifth time over the last year or so.

Life and business coaching will be their thing – it makes perfect sense!  They’re a unicorn and it is so obvious that what’s missing for everyone else is that they aren’t shining as brightly as they can.   And the fact that their business is pretty much non-existent is really just bad luck and people not really understanding how special they are yet…

But they will, this time…

Of course, it won’t because they have an overly idealistic view of their strengths and weaknesses.  They think because they are “passionate” that this somehow translates into expertise and knowledge that they need to share with the world.

You could go back and look at my email from yesterday and see this affliction as being partially delusional and you’d have a good case.

I just think it’s a failure to properly grasp reality and instead, colouring it with an overly idealistic view of their own situation.

Alright, it’s ok to take the easy shot at the shiny unicorn life coaches, but what does having an aggressive realistic point of view actually look like?

Well, it’s uncomfortable.

When I started looking at where things were in Casual Marketer in September, my initial thought was, “Yeah, it’s already cracked six figures for the year, looking like 10% growth, so what if it’s not perfect.”

But that was me being lazy and having an idealistic view of where things were at.  When I decided to become “hyper-realistic” with myself, I realized everything was not tickety-boo by any measure that I’d be happy accepting.

I’d let myself down in a bunch of ways and worse than that, I was not being truthful and transparent even with myself.

See that’s the thing.  When you’re focusing on idealistic things rather than realistic ones, you cease being honest with yourself – you tell yourself a bunch of little lies and you look at things partially rather than fully, because you’re seeing what you want to see.

I quickly worked out that everything came back to my email list – I wasn’t growing it at all and so therefore, my overall growth potential in the business was limited.  In fact, I’d largely ignored list growth for two years because I didn’t prioritise it strongly enough.

All of those mistakes are my fault.

And worse, when I dig deeper into it and get REALLY hyper-realistic, I would say that I knew these problems existed.  I’m smart and experienced and so even if it wasn’t consciously front of mind, I knew.

How do I “know” that I knew?

Easy.  Forensic evidence.

When I decided to get brutally realistic, I started going through my notes over the last two years and on no less than seven occasions, I made handwritten comments in notebooks or bullet points in Evernote about things like lead magnets and generating leads.

It didn’t feel good coming to the realisation that I was not doing a good enough job by my own standards.

Once you get past that uncomfortable feeling, being hyper-realistic and dropping the idealism starts to feel good.  You find yourself getting to a place where you are even more accountable to yourself and at this point you can start really putting the right success measurements in place.

There’s obviously a difference between beating yourself up unnecessarily and being hyper-realistic – that’s a balancing act you need to work out for yourself.

But it’s entirely worth it.  It’s something I’m going to keep working on with myself over 2018.

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