Happy Melbourne Cup weekend. If you’re anti-horse-racing, well, you’re probably not enjoying yourself. As for me? I’m a Victorian, and I’m in Victoria this weekend for a family reunion, so am having an absolutely amazing time. (And no, for everyone who isn’t from Victoria, ‘Victoria’ the enormously well-populated state does not = metropolitan Melbourne. Ahem.)
In the past few weeks I’ve been diving deep into an introspective cycle. Is this business what I want? Is this what I need? Is this what I can commit to? Where is the market?
You know, all that jazz. This happens on the regular.
I’ve been reading a whole lot of IBIS World reports on the state of the market, and considering where to from here.
I’ve been finalising our restructure, our financial move to a new bank, setting up everything that we need that we’ve never had before, and am finally on the home-run for that. Can you say, gigantic happy dance? Honestly, my accountant is an absolute saint. I’m a fierce woman to deal with sometimes and she catches the ball, thinks about the next best way to do things, and then just… goes there. (She’s great, by the way.)
I’ve started pulling together the first of our next serial publications, which is designed to take us down what I’m certain is the Right Pathway. I’m about a third of the way through the planning for that - and stupidly excited about it. I’m going to write some more on that pretty soon, which all of you paying subscribers will get access to. So, if you want the nitty gritty, please go and subscribe.
In the past few weeks I’ve also been dealing with some personal health-related issues on a few fronts, all of which makes my introspection bubble more emphatically to the surface. When you are thinking about your life, the truth is that few other things are as valuable as you. As soon as you face anything that could be remotely serious, no matter what it is, nothing else actually matters. Things have to be right for you, and if they’re not then you’ll just be unhappy forever.
Mark ye this, if my business turns out not to be the right thing, I have no hesitation in turning it off. It wouldn’t be the first time. That’s partly why I’ve been doing the Deep Thinking in the past little while. I even got to the point where I started wondering whether I am actually in this for the long-haul. I figured that I could do a whole bunch of other things… Get a simple part-time job and write 4 days a week; practise Reiki a few days a week, healing people, making a real difference in the world; scaling up my Patreon and making people feel happy through my writing. In comparison, what does my business do? It contributes to the world’s addiction to screens and to a world of competition.
So I needed to find the new pathway. And I have found it. It’s in driving deep publishing value in a way that would be meaningful even if social media networks didn’t exist.
Because even though social media does exist, it’s eating the world. And my money is on it imploding.
It was while I was thinking myself down this road that I realised that I’ve been doing largely what is expected of me. I’m not alone - much of the business world does the same thing, which is why we’re in a situation now where employees are burned out, and employers think it’s a HR issue. Instead of doing the things that really turn me on, I’ve been doing the things that I feel like they’re expected.
That’s why, this week, I decided, fuck that. And then was inspired to write this piece about case studies and why they’re so much better for your business than reviews.
Now, you want to know a funny thing? I’ve got a proverbial canary.
You know those canaries that are taken down into mine shafts, to warn miners of a drop in oxygen? I have one of those. Except, my canary isn’t a bird unless you’re speaking 1970s Strayan.
My canary is the woman who was my first customer at Brutal Pixie. I’ve come to know her as a canary, because she’s like a messenger. When I’m on the right path, it always happens to be at the ‘perfect’ time for her: She’s thinking about it, talking about it, or it’s in her pathway somewhere. She contacts me with what is effectively, ‘fuck yes, sign me up!’ When I deviate from the right path, she either goes away or our relationship begins to fray.
If I were a less creative person, I might suggest that I sit down and draw a serious Ideal Customer Profile based on this woman. But to me she is a messenger from the universe, in the shape of the Canary of Life.
While you may think that this is a whole lot of mystical rubbish, the pattern is pretty damned distinct.
After I published the case studies piece, she emailed me, and I knew I had found my way back to the right pathway. And since that time, leads have started coming in the door, effortlessly.
You read that right. Our pipeline had gotten totally stale.
On Wednesday, I wrote to my Patreon subscribers that the creative work takes so much courage, and that it’s kind of obscene that courage is even part of it. The creative work I do cannot harm me, not in any sense. And yet, there’s a distinct fear embedded in it, one that is so heartfelt that you’d almost swear your life was at stake. The way around it is by taking action, because in action you find joy.
This is what running this business is like for me, too. There is so much courage in it. It’s got a little bit to do with being great at what you do, and nearly everything to do with finding the way back to your own flow.
The Flow is my golden land, and yet it feels weird when I get there. Its ease and calm are the antithesis of workaholism, deadlines and rush. Paradoxically, when you’re in Flow - like, properly in Flow - you get everything done without the strain.
That, my friends, is what happens when you learn to back yourself. Instead of the scars slicing up your back as a result of flogging yourself to death, you float through the day and everything happens perfectly, and perfectly on time.
Now the only challenge is to do the work to maintain that balance and stay here.
For the workaholics among us who work because we love it, the ease and calm of Flow feels strange. But only for a start.