Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Most Important Questions You'll Ever Ask

Hit the Big Time

Make a Difference

Win the Lottery

Target Your Promotion

Action language is compelling. If you read promotional ads for marketing companies, the most natural thing to assume is that success is as easy as flipping a switch. All you need to do is this *one* thing and all of a sudden new leads/customers/revenue will be flowing through your doors.

It's pretty obvious to anyone in business that this is not true. Building a better website, or a blog, or a Facebook page or being on Foursquare can build your business incrementally. For most of us, "incremental growth" is the reality of being in business.

How many times have you read a magazine article on an "easy" way to feel better/lose weight/learn a skill/change your life? And how many of those ideas were sustainable over years?

Today I read a post by Amy Oscar on the unintended stress that "empowerment" places on people. As I read, I realized that the problem is that promotion, marketing, self-help people all set their "solutions" up in this "flip the switch" format.

"Update your website!" they say, like this is one thing, and not a series of 30 things that are interconnected and often out of your control, so the delays and communication issues pile up more stress upon you. Or "Build a following by blogging!" as if this is not a fairly large drain of time and energy that has to be sustained over a long time frame in order to be effective.

In every case, it *seems* like a good idea - it *seems* like it ought to be easy. And in every case, there' questions that aren't asked.

The most important question you'll ever ask is, What's the First Step? And the second most important question is, Why is that Important to me?

Be Empowered? Sure - what's the *first* thing you have to do to make that happen? Is there a first step that's actually doable? "Be Empowered" is not something you can do. It's something you are. Why do you want to be empowered and what, *exactly,* can you do to make that happen? It's not a hypothetical question - it's a cry for guidance and concrete ideas in an area that is saturated with the abstract.

Build a New Website? What is the *first* thing we need to do before that happens? Probably the first thing is to decide if we really want a new website. Why do you want a new website? And if you do, what is the very first thing you can do to make it happen?

Get a Million Followers on Twitter! Why? What reason (other than ego stroking) would you want that? Would you rather have 20 followers that mean something to you or 20,000 that don't?

What's the first step to getting more, being better, changing? Asking the right questions. First, we need to know what, if any, that first step is and then we need to evaluate if that first step is something that has any real meaning or value to us.

Ask the important questions, to get the right answers for you and your business. That's the most important switch you'll ever flip.
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