Being Specific

Work sucks.

Everything is falling apart.

I can’t handle anything anymore.

Today’s course by Kyle Cease on The Entrepreneurial Shift talks about being specific with what we are good at so we can give better advice or sell a better product more aligned to something that is unique to our own experiences and thoughts. Niche marketing or “finding your target audience” has never really been a new concept, but the framework in which someone can operate can be different from the conceptions of what’s been done before. Instead of saying that “you want to do what Tony Robbins does,” he encouraged a client to find the words specific to his own personal experience to come up with a concept called “seeking masculine freedom.” (PS I messaged Teddy Herzog and now I’m wondering if he’ll ever get back to me!) The point is that even if you have the same purpose, the way you execute on it can help you be different and unique. Though, as I write this, I question the value of always being unique and standing out all the time as a virtue.

I’ll get back to what I think I’m good later and the actual exercise of identifying what I’m good at and being specific with that, but first I’d like to take a detour into how this tactic is something that can be applied to things outside of the entrepreneurial context.

Being specific with my pains and fears is only something I’ve started doing, thanks to the help of my coach Casey Berman. When I initially felt like I needed to make a change in my life, I was seemingly paralyzed by all of the obstacles that I felt like were standing in my way. Things like what to do about my “loan situation.” I repeated those words over and over again like a reason to keep me feeling trapped about my own situation. It became a scary thing I couldn’t confront. Casey helped me get closer to my fears by being more specific about them. It was only then that I realized the two main things were: 1) the extremely high monthly payment I was making and 2) the fear of not being able to have enough money for emergencies (e.g., a special needs cat which had since passed away left me with a lingering paranoia about how my current pets would fare). Being specific about my fears allowed me to start identifying small solutions to now very specific “problems.” There can be no solution to a “loan situation” (what does that even mean?!?), but there are solutions to monthly payments and the need for an emergency fund. And what seemed like a very “duh” moment in retrospect, it took only a quick phone call to the loan servicer to reduce my monthly payments (here, only possible because I had made extra payments), and about 30 minutes spent on a pet insurance purchase. What had occupied my thoughts as being extremely terrifying and unassailable now was slightly easier to manage with these two small but significant steps.

And it applies to other areas of your life too. I started out with the quotes above because it is something I have said many times in my life, and what I’ve heard other people say to me. This is not to say that people should be judged negatively for what they say, or to invalidate those feelings, but to offer a different perspective on how to combat those negative feelings when they arise. Maybe “work sucks” because I’m not good at setting expectations for when I should be working in the evening times or that I have two competing time-sensitive projects. That becomes easier to try to find the opportunity to fix those two problems. “Everything is falling apart” might be a little less about “everything” and more about the fact that I have too many thoughts in my head, and I need to write stuff down so that I’m not holding onto everything internally. “I can’t handle anything anymore” might start with assessing my sleep, whether I’ve eaten, and if I have to go to the bathroom.

You won’t do it perfectly. It is impossible to concentrate and identify the entire roadmap to your problems; the issue tree can and will grow as you prune more leaves and trim off what you don’t want. There is this saying about “eating the frog” with regards to time management, but sometimes when I eat a frog it seems to create two more frogs that I then have to deal with. But at least I have a handle on the thing in front of me that is more concrete. Our fears are terrifying because they are abstract and cannot be touched and hide in the dark, but if we get more detailed about them, if we shine a light on what specific parts we are afraid of, we might actually find that the our monster might not be that scary at all, or be wearing a funny costume instead.

A part of my wrist hurts from not taking enough breaks this weekend on the computer, and I love that. Because when something hurts, it is a signal for you to pay attention, not to ignore it. For me, I learn to assess what range still works for me; what I am still capable of doing; and what ranges start to trigger that pain. By being specific I get to understand that I can still move my fingers and type fairly well, but I should stay away from the CTRL+C and CTRL+V motions for today.

One of the things I’m good at is unpacking the ostensibly chaotic, inscrutable parts of a complicated problem, breaking it down into its component pieces, and then coming up with a more digestible, less overwhelming way to think about the situation. And so that’s another way of saying that this sort of stuff about being specific comes naturally to me, even if I’ve spent part of my life suppressing it and generalizing as a conditioned impulse to what everyone else does around me. It explains why I enjoy mobility work so much, because it’s a matter of isolating certain joints and working on them individually, but then eventually building up so you work as a cohesive whole. That’s the insightful portion of my Unique Genius, the part that isn’t afraid to confront a monstrous problem, look at it right in the eyes, and say, “Challenge Accepted.” If I had access to a radio when I was little, I bet I would have enjoyed taking it apart and trying to build something else out of its parts.

What I’m really good at is spotting issues and telling people about them.

More specifically, issues with regards to relationships, anxiety, and stress.

More specifically, how to deal with different types of people at work and in your family.

More specifically, how to recognize those problems that come up when you get a funny feeling inside that doesn’t feel good.

More specifically, when you feel like a 100 watt bulb wired for a 40 watt world.

More specifically, problems about feeling like you are never saving enough money, have to deal with 6-digits of loans, feel like you have to survive as oppose to thrive in the environment you’re in, and when you can’t say no.

I’m good at being funny.

More specifically, I’m good at being relatable.

More specifically, I point out the things that people notice, but don’t dare to say.

More specifically, I identify all the ways in which someone is doing something wrong, but I put clown shoes on it so it’s a little less scary and more funny instead (riddikulus!)

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