At every stage of the journey, a hero is faced with difficult choices. Will they choose a path of growth, or stay stuck on a path that runs them in circles?
Our avatar, Larry, is stuck believing opportunities are singular events — where results are, at best, like the brief report of a firework blast.
When it comes to evolving his website, he believes it’s a hassle unworthy of his time or attention.
He doesn’t understand how the value applies to his unique situation.
When Larry markets his business, he chases tactics and loopholes and hacks.
“Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power if and when it is organized into definite plans of action and directed at a definite end.”
— Napoleon Hill
Apparently allergic to going deep, he will try something for a while, get bored with the lack of instant results, and move onto the next shiny-object “solution” so fast you’ll get whiplash trying to follow his flailing.
Larry sees each new “solution” as the next answer (the big reset button) in his never-ending quest for a new life.
The tragedy is: these promises of secret solutions are little more than clever illusions built up entirely by the gurus (charlatans), and Larry falls for them every time.
They (the gurus) may sell a shitty product, but, they still know Larry better than he knows himself.
And they’re constantly one step ahead of him…
They write copy specifically for Larry. Copy which acts like that little light on the head of an Angler.
The allure of that beacon in the lonely, intimidating darkness of entrepreneurship is irresistible for Larry.
What happens next is inevitable, and predictable.
When stuck in the shadows (ie. frustration & confusion), Larry will gravitate toward any light (hope) he sees.
The trouble is, some lights are deadly…
Larry will inevitably get eaten.
Most people would.
Yet, Jasper is different.
He sees the game.
He knows building his business will take time — that it is an ongoing process, not a singular event.
He operates in nimble iterations and relentlessly fails forward into his success.
He builds evolution into the system from day one, because he understands how to leverage lean feedback loops to his benefit.
Jasper doesn’t stop, even if he thinks he has something working well. Once one flywheel runs effectively, he builds another, and another, and another.
Unlike Larry, who spends all his resources building his one Big Idea (before validating it), Jasper uses quick, small-scale, budget-friendly tests, to help his assets evolve in profitable directions.
Jasper is willing to invest his own time and money. He doesn’t want to outsource unless he has to, and he doesn’t want to rely on investors. He wants his business to pay for its own growth.
He’s frugal, not cheap. He doesn’t waste money chasing shiny objects like Larry does.
Rather than try to hit a home run with every swing of the bat, Jasper choose to approach his web asset as a series of refining tests, because he’s spent the time learning about lean / agile concepts.
He chooses to show up (every day) and do the hard work.
Because Jasper understands that success requires discipline.
Sure, on a long enough timeline, Larry might get lucky and earn himself a fortune.
After all, even a broken clock is right once a day.
Yet, even if he does, there’s no guarantee that Larry can be in the right place, at the right time, again.
Because Larry built on that shaky “foundation” called luck — any brief success becomes an unrepeatable flash in the pan, and eventually his “business” crashes.
He won’t be able to do it again, because he never really knew how in the first place.
Jasper knows that luck isn’t a viable business model — he knows it doesn’t scale, or repeat — so he chooses to take the time to lay deep foundations early, building from First Principles, instead of a mash-up of franken-tactics.
If Jasper’s business is like a castle, the value he provides to his pocket of people is like a moat surrounding and protecting that castle, keeping it safe from invaders (competitors).
The more time passes, the deeper and wider that moat becomes — which is the natural result of earned trust and attention and work who’s value is utterly impossible to ignore.
Work which the people in Jasper’s tribe simply can’t imagine living without.
Larry is an opportunity-seeker. A tactic-hopper. A “money-maker” hunter seeking magic bullets.
He’ll take whatever short-sighted wins he can get his hungry hands on in the least amount of time.
His ego rules him.
Jasper knows his ego is the enemy. He isn’t trying to build and scale a business to feel important at parties. He isn’t after bragging rights or mountains of gold.
He doesn’t pose next to Lambos for social media clout.
Jasper wants a deeper, richer, more fulfilling life. One where he gets to do meaningful work he is proud of (and take a vacation without checking his bank balance first).
He actively chooses to keep his company intentionally small (whether that means a team of fifty, or a team of one), because he believes staying intentionally small is key to serving and mattering in the noise, distraction, and sameness of the modern world.
He believes it is more valuable to make his business better, rather than bigger.
Larry is constantly trapped in thinking too big.
He cruises the internet, perpetually acquiring information, rarely putting any into practice — thinking he’ll eventually crack “the big secret.”
Like an addiction, he buys marketing products and courses on tactics constantly, cobbling them into some horrific Franken-solution — which of course doesn’t produce results, because he doesn’t understand what he’s attempting.
Rather than think for himself, Larry offloads that responsibility onto others. He hunts for copy-and-paste templates, step-by-step systems, and crystal-clear, fool-proof instructions to follow.
Jasper chooses the unscripted path.
He knows a perfect paint-by-number system doesn’t exist, so he doesn’t waste time looking.
Instead, he leverages strategic flexibility, focuses on creating his best work, and makes little, carefully-measured bets along the way.
He doesn’t know exactly how he’ll get where he aims to go, but Jasper trusts in his process.
And he refuses to believe his fate is set in stone.
But where does that leave Larry, and what does any of this mean for the rest of us?