“Once you can see how a game that used to work has ceased to work, then, and only then, can you dream up a new game, a better one.” – Seth Godin
In Seth Godin’s recent blog, he writes about how businesses must “change personas” when they’ve grown up and out of an old brand or identity that no longer serves them.
His post made me understand why I often tell my clients that good marketing and self-awareness go hand in hand. I sometimes joke that Byron Katie is really just teaching you how to market you better to yourself in your own mind. There’s a connection between the messages we tell ourselves (our habitual persona) and our ability to stay motivated (or buy in). We are like walking little microcosms of the business and the marketplace – all in our own little heads. The story we tell ourselves needs to change each time we uplevel our lives and businesses.
Well, entrepreneurs and creatives are diagnosed with Bright Shiny Object Syndrome for a reason. We fall in love with our emotional reactions to things. We market to ourselves that a better something-or-other is up ahead glinting in the light. It becomes our motivation, and it works for a while.
The problem is that emotional reactivity will only carry you so far.
Just like Seth’s descriptions of the early personas of a business, our early motivations are almost always about reaction: The rebel. The underdog. The anarchist.
And the reaction-based model works. At first.
But on any true creative path, you will uplevel. As you do this, you create a new “normal.” At this new level, you won’t be fueled by the same reactive fire that got you started.
“I hate my job, and I have to get the hell out of this cubicle,” is a great motivation at first. It’ll fire you up to stomp into the boss man’s office and quit. It’ll send you out in search of a low-rent studio, knowing you never want to go back to that drudgery. However, when your new endeavor gets legs and is no longer based in reacting to that old cubicle, you’ll need a higher-level motivation.
“Geez, I just want to make money to survive each month,” loses its steam when you master your cashflow and create consistent income. At that point, you must go inward and connect with a new WHY.
Purpose is dynamic. It expands. It changes. It requires that you stay deeply in touch with the messages that are motivating you. Your spirit has no interest in auto-pilot and gets weary of the underdog role.
Ultimately, what Seth is describing is that every brand must move beyond the Reactive and into the Creative with their strategy and their game plan.
Same goes for every life.