Why many of us are in trouble, and four ways to gain an ‘unfair advantage’

Look around you.

Does it seem like people operate with a sense of urgency?

Does it look like others are hungry to win; passionate about what they are doing?

Are they fuelled by a burning sense of purpose and a desire for success?

It can be hard to tell. Some of us might not show it.

What I do know is how easy it is to be influenced by others.

We see Jason excitedly share his verdict on Twitter of the new TV show that he binged on all weekend.

Next to you, Sally scrolls through an Instagram feed — an endless conveyor belt of sweet, gooey videos that tug at her emotions with mind-melting dubstep soundtracks.

On Facebook, a handful of third-connection acquaintances are filling out a comments thread a hundred messages long about Trump’s recent indecipherable gesture.

We smile and let out a sigh of relief. Others we know are chilling. They are doing things, but they are not working. That means all is ok right? We can do the same.

Ah, the good life. No rush. Just zen.


But many of us are in trouble.

And many don’t even know it.

We’re nudged by what we see and feel in our environment. We see the lack of urgency, and it informs our own behaviour.

We have nagging bills, a fuzziness about our future, and a humming, underlying stress we can’t put into words.

The comforts around us make us seem wealthier and better-off than we are.

The reality is that we are about to enter into a period of economic uncertainty and likely massive decline.

I can smell it. We experience crashes in cycles. It’s time, and this one can only be more profound than previous because of mounting global debt and the speed at which modern markets move.

The middle class, as they call it, is disappearing.

That’s you and me.

The poor are getting poorer.

80% of us live paycheck to paycheck.

Few are creating any financial support buffer.

Are you ready for what is happening and what’s to come?

  • Major economic decline
  • Unexpected life circumstances that we need to pay for
  • More extended retirement periods as we age slower (do you have a pension that could last 40 years?)
  • Loss of jobs from automation
  • Proliferation of cheap, higher-quality workers competing with you

I can’t say precisely what the future will hold, but I do know that a lot of us are not ready.

What’s worse is that the cues that surround us, beyond a few feel-good Instagram quotes, tell us that we’ re ok.

That we need to consume more.

That we don’t need to act.

That life needs to be balanced and taken slowly.

That we don’t need to push.

But we do.

We really do.

I’m not saying we cannot be entertained and take breaks and I don’t want to be the bringer of misery.

But we do need to put ourselves in a better, stronger position.

The strength of a financial buffer or safety net; the ability to make money, faster, and the skills to do so.

We need to know how to sell ourselves and stand out from the masses. 

We need to make more, save more and invest more.

We need to be able to support and nourish our families.

This means we gain as much of an advantage in our ability to produce, learn and tighten our skills. Right now. Today.

And we need to do it all with urgency, with speed and with enthusiasm.

We need to gain as much ground as we possibly can.

Sadly, many — at their current, meandering rate— are not ready.

But we can be if we extend ourselves beyond the status quo.

The standard, everyday mode of behaviour.

We need to create our own ‘unfair advantage.’

The ideas below are surface-level and straightforward, but we must start somewhere.

I will be covering more focused strategies in future posts.

Here are four ways:

1. Make yourself big, exciting promises

If we’re to make big leaps, and do what is necessary to get there, we need to go further than merely setting goals or targets.

We need to make promises to ourselves that excite us and force our accountability.

We need to make success an ethical duty, rather than an ‘option,’ or a ‘bonus.’

You have to face up to reality, and realise your significance in being able to make a change.

This will stir up energy in you that you didn’t know you had.

This starts with understanding the significance of the actions you’re taking.

Why are you doing this? Why must they happen?

We need to commit to things that we cannot allow fail, under any circumstance.

We need to have objectives and commitments that simply must happen. This comes out of a promise to ourselves and anyone else holding us accountable.

This applies to our daily activities as well as big goals.

Make yourself the promise that you will earn a specific amount of money in a 30 day period by a particular date. Now double that amount in half the time.

Commit to writing 2,000 words a day towards a book (an asset, a concrete form of credibility), every day, no matter what.

Promise yourself that you will record and share a video every day.

Getting your name out there has tremendous significance. No one can pay you if they don’t know who you are.

Make getting out of bed every day before 6am your moral duty, not merely a one-off job well done.

What’s the alternative anyway? A life of misery, poverty and continual stress?

If you did have the option, you’re less likely to do the thing. There is no time now for ‘options.’

Success should not be an option. It should be a duty.

Most people give themselves choices.

And most people are struggling.

You are no longer ‘most people.’

In an uncertain world, to be like most people is to slowly be eaten alive.

So, for you, it’s ‘must’ time.

It’s time to surprise yourself over and over again.

Make major, exciting promises to yourself, and do what it takes to make them real.

2. Work overtime, with a sense of urgency

The average American works 36 hours per week. Elon Musk works 100 and often more.

I’m not saying work like a dog à la Elon, but be aware of how many hours are left on the table when you act like the general population.

You must view every minute as sacred.

Taking breaks is important. But when we want an unfair advantage, it’s worth pushing back on the socially-programmed idea that we must rest over an entire weekend. Weekends are for when you are secure; when you have millions in the bank, not now.

If you are sleeping each night enough, you don’t need the full weekend off. A half day or so — maybe.

Work early and work late. Get out of bed before the sun rises. It’s evident as a means to make time, but few do it.

It is dramatic how much more time I’ve created for myself by getting up earlier, even as a self-proclaimed night-owl.

I may have lost that time in the late evenings when I’d be in a beautiful, creative flow, free of distractions from others. But, what I’d lost has been gained by longer, quieter mornings, joined by a glowing morning sun, and a more conscious mind.

Being active and behaving as if urgent fuels you with more energy.

Notice how, on those days when you get out of bed late and act with a nonchalance, your energy-levels match that behaviour?

For most of us, the more you move, given adequate sleep, the more energy you create for yourself. So get active. Move with a fluid, quick urgency, and see your productivity explode.

3. Connect with new people every day

The more the better. Reach out to ten people a day or more.

I know, it sucks. But it’s a skill to develop and, over time you will start to enjoy it.

These are the sorts of numbers of people we need to be connecting with at the very least, one-to-one, to bring in opportunities for paid work, if we are in business for ourselves.

“Identify the people in your industries who always seem to be out in front, and use all the relationship skills you’ve acquired to connect with them.” ~Keith Ferrazzi

Big companies have entire sales and ‘biz dev’ teams to develop their networks and work with people towards landing deals and creating opportunities.

If you don’t have a team, what are you doing to build, introduce and nurture your network, your leads, and prospective clients?

Are you regularly talking to them?

Daily connecting is vital for the rest of us too.

We all need to befriend an ever-growing network of valuable people:

  • People who have influence over large audiences who can connect us to those audiences.
  • People who have reached where we want to go, who can tell us how to do it quickly.
  • Potential customers, collaborators, and clients.

Do what few others do. Grow a valuable and robust network.

Continual, one-to-one connecting will give you an advantage like little else.

4. Do more of what feels scary

In other words, take more courage doing what matters. If it seems frightening to you, you’re on the right track.

Do more of the things that will benefit you that you and others think they dislike.

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Here’s the secret about doing what you love: ‘doing what you love is mostly about doing things you do not want to do.’

Because most people don’t like to do things that are uncomfortable, you will gain an advantage by merely doing things that others don’t want to do.

This is how you will gain an unfair advantage, and it is how you will succeed.

This requires you to be courageous; to act when you’re neck is ticking in fear.

Courage is usually the indicator that you are doing things off the beaten path.

These are worth doing, because, apart from the fact that you’ll be doing what others do not do, they will lead to self-growth, and transform you into a stronger, more valuable, and confident version of you.

Connecting with more people is undoubtedly one of these.

So are these:

  • Creating products and writing books
  • Hosting events and being a connector
  • Tracking and planning your finances even if you hate it
  • Identifying potential customers and clients, developing those relationships and closing deals with them so that you get paid.
  • Bringing people together in your network continually
  • Interviewing people for — or being on — podcasts
  • Creating win-win agreements with ‘influencers’ that build your brand
  • Giving talks, or sharing your ideas on YouTube videos
  • Meeting new people if you know you’ve been isolating yourself too much
  • Sharing work consistently every day, and having the faith that traction will develop
  • Working when others are playing or partying

These are just a few ideas that will help those of us who want to create secure, enriching and robust realities.

That starts with the actions you take right now.

Action step: Make a commitment to strengthening your situation, and wake up early tomorrow.

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