Thought Walls

The Desert of Arizona
Clear 80 Degrees – 9:54 a.m.

Thoughts affect how you can see the world. Today, let’s prove it.

Right now, I’m working with the first ever group going through the Lead Lab.

We’ve just completed Week 1 and the first homework assignments are coming in. As I started reviewing the work, it became clear the adjustment I needed to make in the coming week’s material. (If you’re in the course, stay tuned!) My goal is to walk people through a REALISTIC process to build a lead generation system for their business.

That means I’m not trying to turn them into media buying masters (most people won’t do that) or Adwords experts. I’m simply trying to help them see the most direct route between where they are and building a consistent flow of leads into their business.

One of my rules is make no assumptions. I’m not going in thinking I KNOW what everyone’s system is supposed to look like before we start our work. The work is to create a process to FIGURE THAT OUT for each individual client.

Assumptions are a specific type of thought. Thoughts are things. And they can be dangerous if used the wrong way.

Take the whole inbox zero craze where you get your email box down to NOTHING. Well, if you’ve ever tried it, you know it’s totally possible. It also can give you another full time job.

But hearing that idea and accepting that thought that inbox zero is a goal worth pursuing builds a wall around other just as acceptable solutions. The boldest that immediately comes to mind is to simply not get email. Problem SOLVED.

Oh, but you can’t do that! Right?

Who’s running your life? You or your email?

Right now, I’m reading Cal Newport’s book “Deep Work.” He highlights how author Neal Stephenson deals with email. This from Neal’s website:

Writing novels is hard, and requires vast, unbroken slabs of time. Four quiet hours is a resource that I can put to good use. Two slabs of time, each two hours long, might add up to the same four hours, but are not nearly as productive as an unbroken four. If I know that I am going to be interrupted, I can’t concentrate, and if I suspect that I might be interrupted, I can’t do anything at all. Likewise, several consecutive days with four-hour time-slabs in them give me a stretch of time in which I can write a decent book chapter, but the same number of hours spread out across a few weeks, with interruptions in between them, are nearly useless.

The productivity equation is a non-linear one, in other words. This accounts for why I am a bad correspondent and why I very rarely accept speaking engagements. If I organize my life in such a way that I get lots of long, consecutive, uninterrupted time-chunks, I can write novels. But as those chunks get separated and fragmented, my productivity as a novelist drops spectacularly. What replaces it? Instead of a novel that will be around for a long time, and that will, with luck, be read by many people, there is a bunch of e-mail messages that I have sent out to individual persons, and a few speeches given at various conferences.

That is not such a terrible outcome, but neither is it an especially good outcome. The quality of my e-mails and public speaking is, in my view, nowhere near that of my novels. So for me it comes down to the following choice: I can distribute material of bad-to-mediocre quality to a small number of people, or I can distribute material of higher quality to more people. But I can’t do both; the first one obliterates the second.

Thoughts are things so you want to be careful about which thoughts you entertain. Entertain the wrong thoughts and they will serve as walls that keep other (better?) thoughts from coming in.