I have nothing personal against bees; I’ve heard that their lives can get quite busy and that’s fine by me.
But this year, the bees in my yard have been uncharacteristically abundant and aggressive. I’ve been stung twice and my son once, both in the course of mowing the lawn.
These particular bees (technically, they’re wasps, but I don’t think you really care) build their nests in the ground and when you step on them, well, you can guess the rest. And so I decided to do something about it.
Listen To This Post
I considered a commercial insecticide, but my wife Linda was uncomfortable with the idea of my spraying toxic, life-shortening chemicals all over our back yard (women, huh?). Luckily, I came across a YouTube video in which a guy eliminates wasp nests in the ground using only dish soap and a standard garden hose.
I’m no MacGyver, but I thought I’d give it a try.
Two things went wrong, almost immediately:
- I didn’t wait until dark. YouTube man said the bees would be “less active at night.” They didn’t seem all that active at 2pm – just one or two around the hole – so I figured it didn’t really make a difference.
I figured wrong. They were demonstrably unhappy with my intrusion in their busy day.
- The screen I used wasn’t totally flat, and so when I put it over the hole as instructed, and before I could pin it down completely with rocks, the bees got wind of things and started coming out.
Not just a couple of bees either – dozens of them, angrily buzzing all around. I managed to remain calm, as evidenced by the way I ran screaming like a terrified lunatic into the house.
But it’s not all bad news. Having survived the wrong way to do things, I corrected my mistakes and returned that night, this time successfully.
Believe it or not, this concept of doing things wrong quickly, so that you can make adjustments with each successive attempt, is a key mindset in succeeding as a solo professional.
That wasn’t true when I had a job.
Working in the belly of a big company, there’s wasn’t a lot of upside in taking risks. My paycheck never varied in amount or frequency and, at some point, I realized that I had become more focused on playing defense against mistakes than in swinging for the fences.
Working solo, I’ve since learned, requires a very different point of view.
First, because the upside is unlimited. You benefit directly and immediately when things go well.
Second, because time is of the essence. Nobody pays you for keeping busy (let alone just looking busy). The money only comes in when you make it happen, so it’s important to keep moving and keep trying new things.
And finally, because the cost of making a mistake is very, very low. Out here, in the solo professional land of the free and home of the brave (I may have borrowed that phrase from somewhere else), nobody’s critiquing you, judging you, or competing with you for the next promotion.
If your next idea or project works, it works. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. But “failure” (if you want to call it that) doesn’t cost you anything, because nobody is watching.
Here’s the bottom line. The biggest threat to your success as a solo is not that you’ll make mistakes. It’s that you’ll wait too long and move too slowly, out of a fear of making them in the first place.
Might you get stung? I can pretty much guarantee it. But the fastest, most efficient, least risky way to succeed is to just get going.
Discussion Questions (Post your comments below.)
- How long do you think it will be until we’re all tired of the “All About That Bass” song? I don’t know either, but until that happens, watch it here.
- Have you ever run screaming into (or out of) the house? Explain.
- Have you had a business “failure” that ultimately led to a big success? Tell us about it.
Where do I sign up for the “Learn How to Do Things Wrong at Warp Speed?” — this is exactly the course I’ve been looking for! And if that sounds like I’m kidding … I’m NOT. I know from my own teaching and learning that imperfect action is a potent antidote to the hellish glue of anxious perfectionism … and I long for a mastermind and cheerleading group to egg me on and be egged on. Sounds like you have the credentials for this! Why wait ’til dark?
Now there’s a good idea, Deborah! And you’ve just won today’s best metaphor contest: “Imperfect action is a potent antidote to the hellish glue of anxious perfectionism.” That one is a keeper!
I must be living in a cave because I’ve never heard that “all about that bass” song, but I love it now!
Me too. I practically pulled over to the side of the road to listen the first time i heard it. Now I’ve limited myself to just once a day (it’s all over the radio) so I don’t get sick of it!
It is even better with your 6 and 8 year olds jamming to it!
Hello Allison! I’m guessing the 6 and 8 year olds are much more engaging than a middle-aged bald guy rocking to it in the living room (not that that has ever happened).
#1 and #2 – I ran screaming out of the house when I heard that song for the 19th time that day. Any other times for #2 usually involves one of the three kids I have, that are all ages 5 years and under.
#3 – Small and recent failure. I forgot to put the word “VIDEO” in the Subject line of a Newsletter Video I created and sent for a client. As a result, the click thru rate was down, as compared to prior newsletters. On the plus side, the client was able to see how having that video newsletter helped in engaging their clients.
Three under the age of five – been there! But fun to have them close together. Sort of.
And very nice recovery on the video error, too!
One time I went screaming into the house after I broke the top off of the sprinkler head and had a geyser in the backyard. My husband was not amused!
A good tip for me as I prepare to rent an aerator tomorrow. Always have to watch those heads!
All week long AWAI has flooded my inbox with emails offering your “Creating Email Newsletters for Professional Service Providers” course. I read them all with interest, but hadn’t pulled the trigger as of yet. Then, today, your very own newsletter arrived (once I clicked the link in your email, that is). Your “err to the side of action” message, coupled with the fact that I am seeing some revenue trickle in from my new and imperfect-but-launched-anyway website, has convinced me to keep the momentum going. My hope is that the newsletter writing will provide a steady and predictable income base from which I can launch other more speculative and intermittent creative endeavors in my solo professional career…the aforementioned website being just one of those.
Sounds like you are well on your way, Michael! And yes, the predictable income of producing newsletters for others is one really nice aspect of that focus.
We have those wasp’s also, my method of good riddance is VERY HOT water with a lot of soap 1 hour after sundown with the running shoes on!
Talk about timing,just finished Module 3 of your Newsletter course and I received 3 newsletters in the inbox, now I look at them totally in a different light, it’s turned on ..
An interesting refinement with the hot water! And I’m glad the course has been helpful. Thanks for reading!
I discovered that my son’s girlfriend has a pet tarantula named Sheila. Hence…#2.
You’re definitely the guy to design the “Learn How to Do Things Wrong at Warp Speed” training course. You’ve already completed Learn How to Do Things Wrong at Wasp Speed.
GOOD one Jim, lol!
Hmmmm. Well played, Jim!
And thanks Michael! Coming from you – a real compliment.
Once when I was totally frustrated about how to get business, I went to see someone (a complete stranger) who was established in the kind of business I was doing and asked him advice about how to market my services. He didn’t help me in that regard at all, but he did hire me to help prepare for a major presentation he was going to give… The takeaway: Action produces results, sometimes surprising ones.
That’s a great example, Paul. And I completely agree – action, any action, leads to great things. So we need to get moving and let it all unfold.
Just heard this song in November at the Dueling piano bar at Disney. I know I must live in a cave. I loved it…and you should see two skinny male piano players do it in tandem. very very funny spin on a great song. I guess I love it since it is about embracing what makes you different! So—like marketing as a solo.
You’re right. Different is good.
(And I’m kind of over that song now, catchy as it was. Now I put it in the category of Mambo #5 and Black Horse & The Cherry Tree, both songs I couldn’t get enough of … for a while).