In 4. Doing Your CEO Job

Magical Thinking: The Allure of Get Rich Quick

Something I think about a lot, as I work with small business owners and as I run my own small business, is that sneaky ole magical thinking

By which I mean our amazing human ability to tuck away our critical faculties, especially when it comes to money. 

Sometimes this magical thinking takes the form of what I call fauxbundance, which is us magicking away financial constraints in our lives by ignoring them altogether. While yes, I do agree that many of us have a lifetime of ingrained scarcity thinking to work out, we can easily swing the other way, into fauxbundance, which sometimes manifests as being late on your bills so you can roll in your bank balance for a change, boasting about your sales but not being able to pay yourself regularly, freak-out spending-down on credit card bills because a check came in without regard to that payroll you have to meet next week

I know this fauxbundance is powerful because I see it every day.

Sometimes this magical thinking manifests itself in Fuck It spending decisions, which I wrote about in part 2 of my series about why your Hustle may be on 11, bank balance on 2. [To save you clicking over, this is basically those times when you’re unsure about an “investment” but jump anyway, when the sales page (and/or other peer pressure) overcomes your dollars-and-sense reluctance, and you Just Do It.] For me, Fuck It decisions have all included big-ticket masterminds, trainings or certifications, where I was told that I’d make the money back in multiples by the end.

Because that’s another aspect of this magical thinking: there’s a Get Rich Quick promise embedded in the copy.

And let’s be honest: This is SUPER appealing, especially if you’re building a business, just finding your way, just finding your voice.

I myself did this multiple times when I started in my business. Although I’d had a successful career working inside of other businesses, I’d never run my own thing. When I think back on it, I see that I was hitching my little baby train car to someone else’s locomotive, hoping they could help me build speed on these tracks they knew better than me. Also take me through countryside I otherwise couldn’t have reached on my own.

I paid for a certification to become a Business Strategist with a well-known coach, on the promise that as a certified strategist I’d be on the receiving end of her overflow business. Never happened. Well, the payments from me to her happened, but the ensuing clients: nope. I paid for on-going certification as a licensed coach with another popular program, on the promise that they’d refer business. This happened, but they only seemed to send me the smallest business clients so that the money I was spending monthly to remain certified far exceeded the value of any business that came my way as a consequence. I paid for a year-long $25k mastermind program with other business owners, and by the end, had little to show for it, including not being able to pay myself.

I tell you this so you know: I get it, from painful personal experience, how magical thinking, especially with Get Rich Quick lingo, is so appealing. All of that was magical thinking, me thinking I could trade the dollars (or debt, let’s be honest) for a quick win, for a short-cut to success. 

I know I’m not alone. I’ve seen this same thing happen to other entrepreneurs. Remember: I see the truth of a business when I’m looking at the numbers. Which is WHY we indulge in magical thinking. Sometimes the constraints of reality are just too much, we don’t want to know.

The most painful part, both to experience first-hand and to observe, is the feeling of failure. I did everything in the method and it didn’t work, what’s wrong with me? So-and-so was able to accomplish this using this methodology. What did I do wrong? Just when you want to be building confidence in yourself as a business owner, as a creative entrepreneur, as a person, along comes this experience that just takes it out of you, both financially and energetically.

[I want to be clear that I’ve also seen successes, small business owners who invested in a course or training or method, who did everything exactly as in that course or training or method, and who are successful at it. That also happens. But it happens far less than the other scenario.] 

There are so many factors at play, beyond the specifics of that course or method. There are factors which we can not control. What worked for Entrepreneur A in year Y on topic H, may just not be replicable for Entrepreneur B in year Z on topic F. You may have done all the things and it still might not work. It’s not science — i.e., it’s not replicable with 100% accuracy. That’s not real.

That’s magical thinking.

What I’ve learned from painful (and recent) experience (stay tuned for more in my next blog), is that there is no quick short-cut to riches. There is just no substitute for putting in the work yourself, for building success on your terms, pulling your own train with your own locomotive. That’s the truly rewarding part of this whole thing. You making it, really making it. You.

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