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The Embarrassment of Procrastination + New Class Announcement


I sat on my college dorm floor with a set of watercolors, trying to paint a simple Christmas tree.  In my head, I saw a series of elegant green strokes forming a beautiful fir outline. 

Guys.  When I started painting, it was like, cartoonishly bad. 

Like something you’d see tacked on corkboard strips in a kindergarten hallway, only not as cute. 

Last time, we talked about two reasons we procrastinate finishing business classes we take.

Tell me if reason #3 sounds familiar: 

Your first attempts at an assignment weren’t as good as what you saw in your head, and it makes you wince to consider coming back.

It stings to make something new, and see your attempt fall short of examples you’ve seen.  It makes you want to wad it up and say “forget it.” (I did just that with my tree attempts, and to be honest, it was years before I picked up a paintbrush again.)

Sometimes the sting registers as annoyance – “ugh, I don’t have time for this, I’ll just skip to the next section.”  Only you don’t return, because it’s like pressing a bruise.

Here’s what you should know: This line of procrastination comes directly from being unwilling to let yourself play.  

People who ultimately excel at something are willing to mess around a bit.  They get comfortable with the phrase, what happens when I do THIS?

Watercolor ‘behaves’ a certain way.  So does light.  So do persuasive words.  So do inquiring clients.  So does advertising.  If you fixate on getting a polished result the first time or two, you’re robbing of yourself of the chance to learn the rules that will let you master your medium. 

What happens when I add this much water?  Answer an inquiry this way?

In the moment, playing around feels like a waste of time – I can’t just mess around, this has to work NOW, I need clients yesterday. 

Business education may be uniquely hard to get through for that reason – the urgency that led you to take the class ends up hindering your progress by making you feel you have no time for missteps. 

Playing doesn’t need to take forever though.  You don’t need to doodle for weeks before launching your first ad campaign.  The secret is doing a bunch in a row, changing something slightly each time.  The speed comes from how quickly you do the second one after the first. 

And here’s the secret: Often, the differences between our first effort and a final success are much smaller than we imagine. 

I learned later that my water color tree failed for two simple reasons:  The cheap brush had too much ‘snap,’ and I didn’t add enough water to the paint. 

Dude.  Was that worth abandoning painting for years?  If I had just messed around for the rest of the afternoon and maybe done a couple Google searches, I would have figured it out.  Playing around isn’t inefficient, it’s the fastest way to get there.

(One of my favorite artists, Brian Andreas, said, “You learn how to do life by doing it. You learn more slowly if you think you can skip this part.”)

It helps to set tiny goals for the first few times in a row: This time I’m just going to consider publishing a success, because it means I figured out the platform – sweet!  OK, this time I’m going to aim to get three comments.  OK, this time I’m going to aim to get five comments and two inquiries.  And you’re off.

I dare you to go into your next business class with the mantra, “I’ll get better faster if I play around, and do the thing a bunch of times in a row right away, changing something tiny each time.”



Sharpen your pencils, announcing the Psychology for Photographers summer class:

Irresistible Email: It’s Time To Gather Your People

This live online class runs June 3rd – June 28th, capped at 25 students to ensure personal attention. 

Registration opens tomorrow – watch for the details + sign-up link.

I mean what the class title says.  It’s time to gather your people.  It’s time for your work to reach more than just your immediate family and friends, and to set up a simple system for reliably reaching hundreds to thousands of fans who reliably open your missives.  To teach them to trust you and prime them to gladly receive whatever you have to sell. 

By the time you finish the class, you’ll:

  • Know exactly how to write an email people can’t wait to open
  • Understand the two big reasons most email lists fizzle out, and the ridiculously simple way to avoid both with enthusiasm
  • Publish a delicious sign-up hook that trains your ideal clients to open every email from you (we’ll work together on it)
  • Send me a secret profile of your target audience so I can generate six tailored email topics for you (that’s half a year planned for you, my friend)
  • Master a simple system for capturing your audience’s fascination moving forward and ‘train’ them to take action
  • Get every last question about this topic answered, every last frustration fielded, and every ounce of confidence restored.

The course is organized into seven quick wins total.  Each takes less time to nail than watching a summer sitcom.  (The final one may take longer to hammer out, but you’ll have a map going into it, it’s the only task that week, and I’m on call daily to answer questions and help you finish.) 

Spread over the month of June, with personal help from me in a small-class setting, you’ve totally got this.

So if:

  • You’d rather do one thing than half-do ten things,
  • Your mental health needs a break from the social media treadmill,
  • You want loving but honey-badger-esque external accountability for finishing something,
  • You prefer potent small actions that have big impact,
  • You’re sick of playing roulette with algorithms,
  • You kinda hate small talk and would rather go straight to having a deep relationship with people (even if you’re a private person – yep, it’s possible),
  • You want to take advantage of the fact that a solid 50% of typical consumers check their email more than ten times a day and 73% of millennials call it their favorite way to hear from businesses –

Let’s do this.  Together.

Details + registration tomorrow!

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