Walking confidently into the studio, they would look around and size up the students around them.
“Let’s come over here so I can teach you the basic movements,” I would say.
They would grudgingly walk over, while looking over their shoulder at the more advanced students in the class.
“How long before I can do that?” one would say, pointing at a high kick or back flip.
“In about 10,000 push-ups, 5,000 sit ups and a few hundred near kicks to your face, with five or ten that land,” I would reply.
I don’t like shortcuts.
I didn’t when I used to teach martial arts, and I don’t now when teaching about building a business.
Developing the strength, flexibility, stamina and smarts to do advanced martial arts cannot be skipped over in two or three classes.
Nor can you build an insta-business with a few magic tricks.
When you try to speed through too much too quickly, you lose the opportunity, and the pleasure, of developing strength and competency at a pace that will keep up with your intellectual and emotional development.
Disney Princess Syndrome
I see this phenomenon splashed across the covers of People Magazine.
Disney churns female child actresses through the kiddie show circuit before sprinting them to a teen heartthrob singing or movie career.
This rapid career ascent is often followed by a dark public spiral into hell with drugs and alcohol.
While Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Demi Lovato may have had underlying pre-existing emotional issues, it seems like Disney’s model of supercharging their exposure before they have the emotional capacity to handle it is NOT working.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe in some stifling process where you have to take ten years to get exposure, money or happiness.
I do believe that there is nothing wrong with taking some time to do the non-glamorous but critical tasks to build your business like:
- Sharing really good content that solves your customers’ problems on a regular basis. For an extended period of time.
- Working through deep engagements with customers and picking apart the things that need to be improved.
- Taking the time to learn from really painful and awkward failures.
- Building your social network through individual conversations, not mass “build 10,000 followers NOW” gimmicks.
- Developing relationships with journalists who cover your beat.
When your startup is a raging success, with all the activity and stress that comes with it, you may miss the early days when the pure joy of creating something new drove your long days and nights. Everything was fresh and exciting.
I look upon my first five years training martial arts with great fondness. I tore my feet up multiple times, got black eyes and bruised ribs and was pushed to the edge of my emotional comfort zone many times by sparring with more experienced and intimidating students.
Each day I trained, I gained new appreciation for the complexity of the art.
Fourteen years after starting my business, I still feel like a beginner.
Call me a finger wagging grumpy old lady if you wish, but I think some of the old school teachings belong in the new age.