“Do what you love, the money will follow.” The rest of the story.

black box between do what you love and the money will followDo what you love, the money will follow. Popularized in the 90s by a self-help book of the same title this idea was then revisited 15 years later in another successful book, The Secret. Ideas like these have led millions of  personal development seekers to believe that all you have to do is change your thinking, and your life will change. But when you do and it doesn’t you’re left wondering, “What did I do wrong?”

Too good to be true? 

What’s missing in this magic formula for success?

Every good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. In this particular story of success, “Do what you love” is the beginning, and “the money will follow” is the end. But what about the middle? 

do what you love + ????????????? = the money will follow

There is more than a comma in between. I call it…

The Black Box

That black box – with its mysterious switches and controls hidden from view – that’s where the real magic is. So let’s look inside to see how this thing really works and how you can get your hands on those controls.

The five key controls in the black box of success:

  1. Master what you love. It’s not enough to do what you love. You have to get really good at it; otherwise it’s a lovely hobby. The best things in life are not free – they ask something from us. And if you want to bring something from your imagination out into the world, there is a strong commitment required.
  2. Hear what people need. What’s the difference between a creative product and a product that sells? The first is made for you; the second is made for the customer. The difference is relevance. If it doesn’t meet a need of some kind, it will be very difficult to sell. So get clear about the need you fill. Or just do it because you love to.
  3. Point what you love to our need. If you want to monetize your work, it’s your job to reframe what you do into your audience’s language. At this stage, their priorities are more important than yours. Listen not just to what they’re saying but also to what they’re not able to say. And then target your beautiful thing right there.
  4. Blow us away with value. While history’s greatest artists sought patrons, in today’s marketplace we seek customers. Our work is validated democratically. The more valuable our work is to the people we serve the more likely it will turn a first-time customer into a lifetime client. Loyalty is earned through generosity that reaches its target.
  5. Help us choose you. Consumers have almost limitless choices today. Whether you sell coaching or computing networks, no one can outsell your competition like you can. But to do that, you have to get crystal clear about what distinguishes you from everyone else out there. If you don’t cross the street and invite them in, don’t expect the results you’re hoping for.

Inside and Outside the Box

Thought is the ultimate power, and everything around us begins with an idea. But it’s investing yourself to create what you want – more than actually having it – which makes you happy. It’s the double check-and-balance of personal and professional success I described in last week’s post.

Committing yourself to bring something from your imagination into the world is transformative. You create it, and it creates you. The real secret of success is what lies in between the idea and the world, what’s in the black box. And those are the principles found in the Wheel of Creativity.

So go ahead and do what you love, but…

  1. Master what you love.
  2. Hear what people need.
  3. Point your work to our need.
  4. Blow us away with value.
  5. Help us choose you.

… and then the money will follow.

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