Two Breakthrough Ideas That Changed My Life

[wpvideo 8XwBMtV1] Keeping up with information these days is like sipping through the proverbial fire hydrant. You don’t need to check your Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, etc… already know what’s building up on the other side.

That’s right, when the circle stops spinning or the screen is fully loaded – BAM – the constant avalanche of knowledge, hypothesis, and musings from real experts, pseudo-experts, and everyone in between begins again.

Even junkies like me who actually thrive on the continuous info-stream can get a bit numb to the never-ending pitches, articles, and “gamechanging” apps. That said, there are two ideas that have bubbled to the surface recently that, I believe, are legitimately transformative.

Idea #1: 1,000 True Fans

The original concept was written by Kevin Kelly, founding editor of Wired, but really gained traction when Seth Godin adopted it for his book Tribes. The notion is that, rather than measure success by its highest echelons (e.g. the hyper-bestseller, Avatar realm), we should focus instead on building a community of 1,000 “true” fans.

In Kelly’s words, these are the people who “purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing… They have a Google Alert set for your name… They come to your openings… They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work.”

Like scores of others, I got this concept immediately and put it into practice. No longer would I try to find an audience of as many faceless “buyers” as possible. My focus instead turned to building a defined community of engaged followers. This idea is a breakthrough because it seems so … achievable. In other words, since social media has completely leveled the playing field, if you can’t find 1,000 people who’ll pay for your content, it’s probably not very good in the first place. 

Idea #2: The 10,000 Hour Rule

This idea is based on a renowned study where “world-class” musicians were found to have practiced at least 10,000 hours, or well beyond the time logged by their peers. Famously brought to light in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, the study showed that “…the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it.”

Everyone knows that in 2008 Michael Phelps earned the most Gold medals in a single Olympics ever. But did you know that he won the 200-meter butterfly by seven-tenths of a second? What if this extraordinary achievement came down to the fact that Phelps swam just a few minutes longer per day than his competitor? Whenever I find myself writing at 12:30am, on Sundays, or when I’d much rather be watching TV, I remember that 200-meter butterfly… and I keep going.

OK – now it’s your turn. In our world of non-stop communication where everyone has a “big idea”, which ones resonated and / or changed your life?

(This article was orginally written as a guest post for the Personal Branding Blog.)

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