riffs & rants blog

The Myth of “Sure-Fire” Solutions

aka, “snake oil”

When I first saw this ad on Facebook, I was compelled to take a screenshot and save it. I wasn’t sure what I’d end up doing with it; it just jumped off the screen as a perfect example of the kind of mindset that continues to knock otherwise well-intentioned artisan entrepreneurs off the rails, namely that there is some kind of shortcut to success. So here I am, a couple of weeks later, sharing it with you as a warning.

If you’re looking for a model to duplicate that “can not fail”, you’re looking for disappointment and frustration. If you spend money on a “sure-fire” system for success, chances are pretty good that you won’t get the results you paid for. Do yourself a favor: stop looking for someone else’s magic bullet and start making your own.

Here’s the thing about being an artisan: you can’t buy someone else’s model and expect it to work for you. If you were buying a McDonald’s franchise, it would be a different story. They’ve got their shit dialed in to the second and the ounce, and any deviation from their model will cost you.

But you’re not trying to be the next burger mogul, are you? You’re out to create art, not shitty hamburgers.

So it’s time to get real with your business, to start asking the tough questions, to start doing the actual work of moving your particular ball down the road. [ POST BOMB ALERT – Clark here. Just so you know, the mixed metaphor is only because Jerry is not a sports kinda dude. He meant “move the ball down the FIELD” ] Start by asking yourself: why do I do what I do? How does my why set me apart from others in my field? Oh, and while we’re asking questions, what exactly is it that I do?

You’d be surprised how hard it is for some folks to answer those questions, especially that last one. We’ve become so accustomed to elevator pitches and story-telling that we seem to have lost the steak in all the sizzle. If I’m your client (or prospect), yes I’m interested in your why. It will likely be a big factor in my decision whether to buy from you. I also want to know your how, the thing that makes you different from everyone else. But until I know your what, I’m not going to break out the credit card. I need to know what I’m buying, and you need to be able to tell me clearly and concisely, with no obfuscation or smokescreens, exactly what that is.

Now for the hard part: the letting go. Of what? Of your attachment to the outcome. Check out this little gem from Erich Fromm:

“Love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person. Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love.” – Erich Fromm

John Fromm taking the plunge
This is not ERIC Fromm, it’s JOHN Fromm. But this move was sick, so I had to share it. Talk about taking the plunge…

Does that scare the fuck out of you? It should. Fromm is basically saying that you can’t control the outcome. There are no guarantees, no sure-fire solutions, nothing that “can not fail”.

You have to be willing to take the plunge, and you have to be willing to do it without a net. That’s what it means to be an artisan: to give your love to your work, to commit yourself with no guarantee of your love being reciprocated, to take the leap of faith.

It’s a reckless, wild, and terrifying journey, no doubt about it, but if you’re willing to follow this path, you can change the world.

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