There is No Secret

Let me start by giving you a warning, in this email, I may mix metaphors and make all sorts of other storytelling mistakes, but you’re going to forgive me because I’m giving you advanced warning, I’m stunningly good looking, devilishly charming and unbelievably witty.

Modest… Did I mention modest?

Ok, on with the show…

I’ve never been a huge fan of Arthur C Clarke despite acknowledging that he was prescient about the future of technology and where things were headed.  Clarke gets a lot of credit for his predictions about technology, but not enough praise for his understanding of humanity – I always found his writing hopeful and filled with optimism, which are indelible attributes of the overall human condition.

Clarke had his “Three Laws”:

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, they are almost certainly right. When they state that something is impossible, they are very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

The first two speak to my comment about his sense of hope and optimism – he had an “everything is possible” kind of attitude that people reading this would be wise to soak up.

But we’re not going to talk about the first two laws, we’re going to focus on the third.

I’m going to go off on a slight tangent here…

Someone asked me to describe my new iPhone X when I first got it and so I told them:

“Imagine if I suddenly woke up in a field in Nova Scotia and discovered that I’d gone back in time to the mid-18th century and was outside some fairly rustic house with a few livestock running about outside.  Confused, I knocked on the door and seeing that I was dressed oddly and slightly confused, the couple who owned the home invited me inside.”

“Based on what I could see in my surroundings, I’d realized that I was no longer in Kansas anymore and after some conversation to get my bearings, I worked out that these people were in fact my great grandmother’s grandparents.”

“I decided quickly that this is pretty cool and so I reach into my pocket, pull out my iPhone X and ask if I could take a selfie with these people.  As the phone comes out of my pocket, it activates itself, I look at it and the FaceID recognizes me and my thumb instinctively slides up the lock screen.  Swiftly I tap the camera icon and the camera app opens, I pull us close together, snap the picture and show them the results.”

“To these people, I’ve just performed some type of witchcraft and maybe stole a piece of their soul.  They would have less trouble working out that I was from the future than they would in understanding the iPhone X – it may as well be magic to them.”

Advanced technology is magic if you have nothing to compare it to.  When you don’t have any type of basis upon which to break down what you’re seeing and how it works, you can’t begin to understand it.

So how does this relate to business?

My answer to that is… Secrets.

People who “say” that they want to build online businesses often spend a disproportionately large amount of time looking for the “secret” that will unlock the doorway to success.  They genuinely believe that people who are successful have some kind of hidden knowledge that they do not yet possess and once they find it, they too will be bathing in copious amounts of interwebz monies.

To these people, building a successful online business is a form of sorcery.  They don’t yet know the right potions and incantations, but eventually, they will and balance will be restored to the Force.

In their mind, “Success = Magic”.

But it’s not… What most successful people do, the magic if you will, is that they consistently apply leveraged effort to things that deliver them the maximum benefit.

They figure out the stuff that will move the needle the most and then turn up every day to do that work.  They have a consistency of effort and a single-mindedness that most people just can’t muster.

It’s not magic at all, in fact, it’s almost the opposite of magic – it’s transparent effort.

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