Some time last year, I wrote briefly about rotting badgers.
Because when I see them on the side of the road, I get really sad. But they also made me think about the nature of growth...
Because we're constantly bombarded with messages from the Loud Voices on the internet about how we should grow grow GROW at all costs, or what are we even doing bro?
Well, I think that's bullshit. At least, it's bullshit for me... and perhaps for you, too.
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What do you really want to grow?
Do you want to grow your business? DO YOU? Do you want to create something huge, a multi-million-pound empire you can sell and live off?
If not, what the hell are you even doing, amigo?
You’re playing, that’s what. Playing at running a business. Messing around with a glorified hobby.
At least, that’s the message I’m getting from every guru and his dog: that if I’m not looking to grow grow GROW all the damn time, I’m not worth paying attention to.
And it hurts, right? If we’re not drinking the Koolaid, if we’re not hustling 24/7 and obsessing over growth, we’re somehow less than those other entrepreneurs and business owners we see crushing it every day.
We’re bombarded by this idea that we must create something enormous… like a huge corporation we can eventually sell. That we must make as much money as fast as possible—then make some more, regardless of the consequences.
We’re told we must go after as many customers as we can possibly find—then find even more. Our puny lists of 1,500 people? That’s not enough. Not even close. What we need is a gargantuan list or we’re screwed.
We must start employing people and outsourcing every last thing—even the stuff we enjoy.
We’re told we must create endless products and services and write a bazillion books and sell more copies than anyone else, ever. And we must grind ourselves into the ground along the way.
Or what the hell are we even doing?
Growing Like a Rotting Badger
Here’s what I believe: not all growth is good. Not all growth is healthy.
Some growth is like a rotting badger on the side of the road: getting bigger on the outside, but the inside is a sad seething mass of virulent decay.
I was obsessed with growth for so long and it made me miserable. I was like that rotting badger, only with marginally better hair.
On the outside, I was matching what the internet told me: grow everything as fast as possible. On the inside, I was miserable, scratchy, wrong. This kind of growth and ambition wasn’t me. I didn’t fit.
But I couldn’t find anyone to tell me who I was and what I wanted was okay—because the loud voices drown everything else out.
What don’t you want?
Let me ask you now: what do you want? Really? Stop for a moment. Stop scrolling and really thing about this. Grab a pen and a piece of paper and scribble down the first thoughts that come into your head when I ask you this:
What do you really want from your life and business?
But that’s a big question, and sometimes it’s easier to start with what you don’t want. So if you’re struggling to answer what you want, try this instead: list what you don’t want.
- I don’t want the responsibility of employees. Not now, at any rate.
- I don’t want more and more complicated software to break and get confounded by.
- I don’t want an expensive and convoluted website (even though the Loud Voices tell us we must have a fancy website).
- I don’t want thousands upon thousands of customers who become faceless numbers, who I can’t connect with and get to know.
- I don’t want fancier and more expensive tools.
- I don’t want thousands of products myself and my customers are confused by.
- I don’t want to jump on the least marketing fad badwagon and spread myself ever thinner.
- I don’t want more time away from Joe.
- I don’t want more stress.
- I don’t want more.
For a long time, I thought I needed all those things to be a success because that’s what the Loud Voices tell us we need. They shriek at us to keep up, pay attention, stay ahead of the curve, throw money at the problem they tell us we’ll be obsolete if we turn away and do our own thing.
Of course they tell us that because they want our money. They want us to spend on the latest shiny marketing object. They want us to believe human nature has somehow changed—that even though we evolved for millions of years into what we are now, suddenly, in the last decade, the way our brains work has changed. (It hasn’t.)
What do you want? Really?
What does your list look like? It might be totally different from mine. You might want to grow and have employees. You might not want to stay small and solo.
That’s fine. It’s more than fine; it’s right for you.
But make your list. Think about what you don’t want—and when you’ve done that, turn your thoughts to what you do want.
Here’s what I want—and I suspect some of our list items will cross over…
I want to make a difference and be significant. Every human does. I want to help make someone’s life and business better so they can make a difference.
I want to keep books alive—all books, fiction and non-fiction.
I want to help business owners tell their stories in such a way that it helps others like them, and in such a way that it helps them find their ideal customers.
I want to work with a small number of private clients to help them write their books. I want to get to know them well, find out what makes them tick, and how we can help each other.
I want to run small, intimate, intensive courses and workshops and retreats. I’d rather charge more and have fewer customers but give them far more than I could if I sold my products to thousands at a time.
I want to find my weirdos. I don’t mind if this way takes longer; it’ll be far more me.
I want enough money to not have to worry about it. To be able to do up our Dingle, travel, and have adventures.
I want more time to spend with Joe. To do work that matters. To train at the aerial studio, play the guitar, and learn languages. To study.
Turns out, I want to grow my life.
How about you? What do you want?
When you’ve found what you want, figure out the Tiny Beetle Steps you need to take to get there. Then tune out the Loud Voices and take your first step.
Start Writing Your Book Today
If you want to learn more about how to write, self-publish, and market a book for your business, snaffle yourself a copy of How The Hell Do You Write A Book? Then check out the blog and podcast for more articles and guides. If you want a little (or a lot) more help, find out how you can work with me.
Vicky Fraser is the founder of Moxie Books and author of How The Hell Do You Write A Book and Business For Superheroes. She helps business owners write life-changing books, connect with readers and new customers, and grow their businesses. When she's not doing that, she's hanging from a trapeze by her feet.