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Make Hard Things Easier by Removing Friction

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Friction resists movement. Lots of things count as (negative) friction.

  • Anything that consumes resources (time, energy, money, physical goods.)
  • Anything that causes negative feelings (shame, doubt, guilt, fear.)
  • Anything that could have a downside (losing money, respect, your job.)
  • Anything that may have no benefit. (Joy, money, respect, a better job.)

If you want to make something happen in your life, chances are good that you’re not doing it already because of friction.

Think about it - if you wanted to do something, the benefits were obvious, and the barriers non-existent… wouldn’t you already be doing it?

So - if you are not content with where you are now, and you have an idea of where you want to be, examine hard the possible sources of friction. If you can eliminate most of that friction, you’ll suddenly find it much, much easier to make that thing happen.

I have two examples of changes I wanted to make that were impeded by lots of friction.

Creating a digital product #

I’ve wanted to create a digital product that sells itself for a long time. Sounds perfect, right? People give me their money and, after initially setting everything up, it doesn’t take any additional work on my behalf.

Here’s all the friction I’ve run into:

  • I’ve never done this before. Everyone out there who hasdone it, has, by definition, done it. So I am quantifiably different from those folks that have done this thing.
  • I don’t have any customers. What if I put all this work out, and can’t get anyone to buy it?
  • I’ve never built a website, or earned money outside of “normal” jobs.
  • There are 1000 different things I could spent my time on related to this project. How do I know I’m spending my time effectively?
  • Most people want to do this, and most people never try. Those that do… most of them fail, right? Why would I do anything different.
  • I already have a full-time job. Why should I spend my limited time finding even more work?
  • I don’t know anything that unique about anything.

Here’s how I got over all of this friction:

  • Every single action I take is a learning experience. If something doesn’t work, I’ve learned. (Along those lines - there is no good way to do cold calling.)
  • If I hit a barrier, I figure out a way to either not need it, or get around it. (Call people, get email addresses, email them, then call again. It’s no longer a cold call.)
  • If I feel out of my element and outside of my comfort zone, I’m doing it right. That stress is now encouragement.
  • My wife is encouraging, That helps a lot.
  • All great products and entrepreneurs have sucked or been unsuccessful at one time (or many times!). I’m just running with it - it’s OK to feel like I’m making it up as I go.
  • I’m not done, and I don’t think I ever will be. But it is all a learning experience.