You might not know Val Geisler, but lemme tell ya, you definitely should know Val Geisler.
When she’s not helping SaaS companies fix their churn with premium onboarding experiences with email, she’s dropping truth-bombs about business, marketing, and life.
Like this one, that I wanted to share with you today!
That fear of shipping? It’s bullshit, and Val will show you why.
If you’ve ever second guessed yourself, or quit before the finish line, you know that there’s a certain kind of self-talk that always seems to creep into the picture.
It typically shows up somewhere between the honeymoon of your great idea, and the reality of sharing it with other people.
That self-talk, though. Where does it come from?
To understand the source, I think, it’s valuable to think about a time in your life when that crippling self-talk wasn’t there at all.
Yes, a time in your life where you weren’t so afraid to fail.
Enter, Val’s story (edited here from a twitter thread, for easy reading).
Vals’ Snowman Story
My daughter’s pre-K teacher told me that the class had just done a guided drawing exercise. I looked at a wall of beautiful snowman pictures drawn by the kids and noticed how each one was so different.
She explained that guided drawing is something kids can do, but adults suck at it (she didn’t say “suck” because she’s a Catholic school teacher but it’s what I heard so let’s roll with it).
Without telling the kids what they’ll eventually be drawing, the teacher says “draw a big circle at the bottom of the paper”. The kids draw. Then the teacher says “now draw another slightly smaller circle on top of that”.
This is where the kids rule over the adults.
This second step is where the brains of adults start firing off.
- “How much smaller?”
- “How much space will I need eventually?”
- “Where is this drawing going?”
- “Did I make my first circle big enough?”
We stop before we’ve even really started, thanks to all of our questions.
Kids, though… they just listen and draw. Every single kid in the class was successful in drawing a snowman.
Some had droopy hats in order to fit and some had very small heads or long arms or crooked , but they did it.
The kids didn’t think really hard about all of the possible outcomes (read: ways they could fail) and they did it anyways.
I am forever indebted to my child’s pre-K teacher for this lesson. It’s in the doing it anyways without knowing the outcome that we all grow.
Want to overcome an obstacle? Just listen and do the next thing. Don’t try to plan ahead all of the time. Let it go. Be present and move forward.
One snowman circle at a time.
Now, you might be thinking, “Aren’t Amy and Alex all about backwards planning and avoiding failure?”
Yes. We’re huge proponents of planning for success.
But AFTER you’ve done the planning and the research you know are needed to succeed, 90% of the rest of the work is just about putting one foot in front of the other.
3 ways to get over your second guessing self-talk and draw the damn snowman ☃️
1. Resist temptation to start from scratch every time a worry creeps into your head.
When you start to fixate on ways you could fail, the worse thing you can do is stop. The second worse thing you can do is totally redesign the plan from scratch just because something “feels” a certain way.
Really! I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen 30x500 students plugging along…when all of the sudden they reach a corner of uncertainty.
Oh no! But instead of analyzing the source of their uncertainty and choosing a next step forward, they literally throw away the hours they invested so far and start over from scratch.
(This is in often in spite of the evidence in front of them, including the success they’ve seen others achieve with the exact sames steps. Wild!)
DO NOT FALL INTO THIS TRAP. It’s almost never the right move to throw everything away and start over at step one.
Again, if you’ve done the research and understand your customer, treat that understanding as an asset. Analyze what you DO know, verify that your work still matches the research, and keep moving forward.
2. Focus relentless on what the reader/viewer/customer/audience NEEDS.
Speaking of understanding your customer, the easiest way to get out of your own head is to spend more time in your customer’s head instead.
It sounds obvious, but it’s overlooked all.the.damn.time.
Here’s why it works, though.
When you don’t have a clear picture of who you’re trying to help, and what you’re trying to help them accomplish, it’s easy for your outcome-imagining-machine of a brain to start cranking out these pesky things called “ideas.”
These “ideas” can swell and swirl to fill a room the size of your imagination. That room can feel exciting, and keep you awake into the wee hours of the morning.
But when it comes time to ship those ideas, your same outcome-imagining-machine of a brain steps in to sow doubt. In the very ideas that it came up with!
Think about it: the exact same part of your brain that imagines the euphoria of potential successes is capable of inventing your most catastrophic downfalls. Thanks, brain! 🧠 🙅♂️
So how do you fix it? The trick to controlling this part of your brain is to quarantine the creative part of the process to the actual creation, and not letting your creative brain it anywhere near the prerequisites of figuring out what to create or how to deliver it.
For that, you have systems like Sales Safari.
Bottom line: it’s really hard to listen to someone else’s problems and be afraid of your own fears at the same time. Practice using this dichotomy to your advantage.
If you spend more time listening and observing and studying your audience, it’ll improve your understanding (and therefore confidence) as well as distract your stupid brain from worrying.
3. Draw the damn snowman.
Sometimes, you have to just suck it up and draw the snowman you’re able to draw, with the paper and pencil you already have.
It might have a droopy hat or a small head or long arms or a crooked smile.
But you’ll have drawn the damn snowman. Which means you CAN draw a damn snowman.
And every damn snowman you draw is an opportunity to make it a little bit better than the last one.
There's more where that came from
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