My Dad’s Middle Road Mentality
My Dad always taught me an important lesson in life that still serves me well today…. “Learn from everyone you come across in life – whether they’re on the same path as you or not”.
He called it the ‘middle road’ and told me that in life you’ll come across all kinds of people with different views (in politics, in theology, in business). Many of them would write off everyone else’s experience or views as wrong and believe that their way was the best.
However he’d found that rather than writing those with different perspectives to you off, it was powerful to listen to everyone and to learn from them.
The key was not to just accept everything that they said as truth, but to take what was relevant to you from those on different paths to you and apply it to your own situation – and to leave behind what didn’t fit with your situation, values and approach.
Dad’s advice has continued to come back to me through life in different situations – but recently it’s been applying a lot to my business and approach to building an online presence.
The Middle Road and Online Entrepreneurship
You see in the online entrepreneurship space there are many approaches. Some of them are more extreme than others and often they rub people up the wrong way.
The temptation is to simply write off everyone who rubs you up the wrong way and to ignore their teaching completely – however the problem with this is that you could be throwing out some great teaching that is mixed in with a few bits that you don’t like.
I was a Purist Blogging Snob
I’ve been guilty of throwing out the baby with the bathwater in this space many times. I remember being asked to speak at an internet marketers conference in the USA 4-5 years ago and coming away from the experience feeling sick in my stomach. The hype, trickery and manipulation of some of those presenting turned me off completely.
In hindsight I should have taken my Dads advice to that conference because while there were things in it that I was right to feel sickened by – there was also a lot of good stuff that I should have taken on board.
You see at the time I believed that I simply had to build a great blog and people would come to it and I would make money – I didn’t need to market it, I didn’t need to develop products to sell, I could just build a great site and put some ads on it and I’d do well.
This ‘purist’ approach worked OK…. to a point, but I could (and should) have learned a lot from those internet marketers.
- I should have listened to them talking about the importance of building an email list/newsletter
- I should have taken note about what they said having my own product to sell
- I should have listened to them talk about the process of launching those products
I should have learned a lot that week…. but I didn’t. I allowed the bad stuff that I saw to overshadow the gold that would have taken what I did to the next level.
How I got Back on the Middle Road and Doubled the Size of My Business in a Year
Of course, 3 years later I did learn those lessons. Those of you who read ProBlogger will know that I’ve changed my approach somewhat of late. While I still believe in building great blogs and I still make good money from advertising, I’ve begun to develop email lists along side my blog and have started to release my own products.
I’ve also started to read and learn from some of those ‘internet marketing’ people. I struggle with some of the more extreme ones, but there are a few good people in that camp who are starting to get the social media/blogging space too.
One I’ve mentioned here before is Jeff Walker. He’s known for his Product Launch Formula – something I enrolled in last year when he opened it up and which taught me a lot. In fact he was one of the main people who helped me to get back on the ‘middle road’ and to see that while I was having some success that I still had a lot to learn.
I’ve since launched 4 products which have done really well and this income stream has more than doubled what I was earning previously in just under a year (my accountant emailed me recently to ask me what I’m doing!).
Of course there are a few things in Jeff’s teaching that I’ve left out of my approach – but the stuff I’ve taken on board has been invaluable. The key is to not swallow everything whole but to take what resonates with you and to apply it to your situation and to calmly leave what doesn’t ‘fit’ aside.
Jeff has recently released a video that talks about big product launches and what he’s learned along the way. He reveals some great details (including income figures) on some massive launches. The video is well worth the opt in.
Whether you learn from Jeff or not, I guess the take home lesson that I’m trying to communicate is to have a ‘middle road’ mentality. There is great power in opening yourself up to learn from those on different paths who are trying different approaches to online entrepreneurship.
Learn what is working for others, filter it through your own situation and values and you might just find your business grows as a result.