The feeling of boredom comes to every linchpin, artist, and entrepreneur from time to time. The reason is quite clear: actions have become easy, challenges are few and far between, and there is less need of a growing skill.
As a result, the impresario seeks out larger challenges that require focus, additional connections, and an incessant need to learn new skills to accomplish the goal.
But once the artist sets down that path, she realizes she has set too lofty of a goal, too large of an expectation of herself, too tough of a challenge, so she returns to the start of this post, desiring a calmer path, a quieter challenge, an easier goal.
As Peter Turchi writes, it’s a cycle of satisfaction and frustration. To find our muse we must find the flow between the anxiety of a difficult practice and the boredom of an easy task.
The real problem isn’t doing what it takes to stay within your flow, your muse; it’s noticing when you’re outside of it, when a task is too easy or a challenge too large. Both of which are slippery slopes that lead to failure and resentment.
However, exceeding expectations doesn’t mean you have to blow someone’s mind. It can be about adding something little.
It can be a grocery bagger asking if there is anything else he can do for you.
It’s adding a pin, a mint, a random goonies playcard in one’s package like Johnny Cupcakes.
It’s giving someone access to a part of your site that they never knew about before they bought your book.
By all means, set out to give something remarkable to the world, but be open to the ways you can surprise someone with more. If you’re a funny brand, this might be the perfect opportunity to clear out your junk drawers. If you’re an author, maybe it’s worth sending a copy of the book that inspired you when you were little.
What more do you got is a rhetorical question.
The better one is will you give it or stay comfortable?
Typically, the only person who expects you to be good out of the gate is you.
I might be wrong with that statement. Some may expect good out of the gate from you, but they’ll never check.
They won’t read your first book and if they open it, they won’t read all of it. They won’t follow your blog and check in every day for the first three months you blog daily. They won’t watch your YouTube bit detailing your new invention. 50 Instagram photos down the line, they’ll never scroll down to see what your first 5 were.
Don’t focus on being good out of the gate, focus on feeling good.
You’ve started something. You’ve finished and shipped something. You’ve practiced. You’re troll-free because no one is paying attention yet. Enjoy it. Relish it. Leverage the opportunity.
Stay Positive & No One Is Watching, Why Not Experiment?
I caught this article on Atlantic this morning. It’s all about making promises. Essentially, when you break a promise, you hurt feelings and disappoint the person(s) you made a promise to.
However, when you exceed a promise, when you go above and beyond what you promise you will do, it’s not much more rewarding than simply meeting the promise.
The research behind it makes me skeptical of businesses making promise’s to their customers and clients. If a PR agency promises they can increase a Twitter following by 500 in a week, and end up increasing it by 1,200, the client merely sees that the agency do what it promises, not that it can do more than it promises. There’s no guarantee they can do that again next week.
Alas, we arrive at the scale, weighing promises against expectations.*
Perhaps it’s not just safer to say “this is what you can expect” instead of “this is what we can promise,” but it’s more beneficial, rewarding, and likely to result in a remarkable experience.
The motto goes “exceed expectations.” You never hear, “exceed promises.”
Odd connection here, but I was fortunate to have ordered big shoes with my tuxedo for my best friend’s wedding this weekend. Who would have guessed I would jam my toe the night before the wedding and be in pain with my nicely-fitting gym shoes? (I’m still not convinced it’s not broken.) I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to bust a move on the dance floor because my toe would be pressing against the side of the dress shoe. As I said, fortunately the shoes I ordered were big and gave my foot space to move and slide around without the pressure leading to pain.
The experience made me think how it really pays off when we have big shoes to fill: when we put ourselves in positions above what we believe we’re capable of, when we take on more than we think we can handle, and when we put ourselves in large uncomfortable situations.
I’ve taken a freelance job that requires more skill than I have, that someone older or with more years of experience could do better, and that has made me a bit nervous. Big shoes to fill.
Yet, I’ve got space to explore, room to stretch (and grow), and nothing to lose. Great thing about big shoes to fill is no one expects you to fill them. Great thing is you now have a great source of motivation to fill them. It’s not so much about proving them wrong as it is proving yourself right.
Stay Positive & Remember, You’ve Got Room To Breathe
Seth Godin said a brand is the product of two things: prediction of what to expect times the emotional power of that expectation.
Where does the emotional power come from? That too is the product of two things: the relief in getting what you expect times the joy of getting more than you expected.
Earning trust isn’t about meeting expectations. More importantly, it’s not about lowering expectations so you can exceed them upon delivery. No. The good stuff, the brand, the trust; all of that comes from setting high expectations to begin with, but always finding a new way to surpass them.
Johnny Cupcakes, yet again, is my go-to. You get everything you expect (high quality content and packing), and inside the box I find something I didn’t expect, something goofy and special, something that brings me joy.
Relief and joy, two seemingly opposites actually make a perfect duo.
Stay Positive & Branding Is Making Bold Promises, But Always Over Delivering
It’s really quite simple. Just come up with a way to change something in your life, large or small. Are you going to drink more water each day this year? Are you planning to make a big move later this year? Are you wanting to write more on your blog this year?
There’s a lot you can do that is easy this year, but nothing is easier than initiating scared, so why not do it?
Do something easy so you can focus more on doing something that’s difficult, say, perhaps, overcoming scared?
By doing something easy, you create more time to focus on setting your expectations for the difficult, on building confidence for the difficult, on actually doing the difficult.