5 signs you may be majoring in the minors and minoring in the majors

Priorities + focus = success.

You’ve identified THE major conference in your field – you know, the one where all the heavy hitters show up. You know it will be packed with your ideal prospects. You’ve downloaded the submission guidelines for prospective speakers. You know that getting this speaking gig would establish you as a true industry thought leader. You sit down at the computer to complete the submission forms – and decide that, after ignoring the mess in your office for weeks, you just have to take care of cleaning it now.

HUH???

How often have you found yourself doing something just like this? Why is it so easy to get sucked into piddly activities that make you feel “productive” in the short term, sabotage your success in the long term, and steal time away from the important work that will really benefit your business?

I was reminded of this during a recent session with the talented and delightful Tina Provenzano. She shared with me that her mentor once compassionately kicked her in the butt by observing that Tina was “majoring in the minors and minoring in the majors.”

Ouch.

But here’s what I find tricky about this whole major/minor question: There’s so much that goes into being an entrepreneur, especially a solo, that virtually everything you can think of to do has some value, some importance. So how can you tell when the things you’re focusing on at this particular time are the minors rather than the majors?

Here are five signs you may have gotten your M’s mixed up.

You work on an activity because it’s “interesting”.

I was recently listening to one of the master classes available on Michael Hyatt’s Platform University, and the speaker cited a particular website. He used it as an example of a membership site using what he calls the “UPS model” of bringing in and engaging members.

The speaker clearly explained how the site uses this model, so there was no real need for me to go online and check it out – but I did anyway. Why? Because this site offers belly dance videos, and I was curious to see how these videos would compare to the live classes I’ve taken.

In other words, I got suckered by this interesting content. I took time away from listening to the high-value master class – which I’ve paid for, mind you – in order to indulge my curiosity. Yup. Majoring in the minors.

(By the way, I’ve deliberately omitted the belly dance website URL.  After all, the idea behind this post is to help you avoid majoring in the minors, not do more of it.  But it really was a fascinating site.)

You do a task because it’s easy and/or comfortable.

Is tweeting as easy as falling off a log for you? Do you often default to this activity, regardless of what else is on your To Do list? Do you do this despite the fact that your Twitter following has been hovering at 27 people for months now?

Then tweeting definitely falls into the “minor” category. Because something being easy is not the same thing as it being valuable. (Of course, just because it comes easily to you, it doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. Hmmm. Sounds like a topic for a future post….)

If you can’t set priorities wisely, you can’t succeed.

 

One situation in which I get to really police myself is choosing images to go with my blog posts. Do I enjoy doing this? Yes. Are visuals useful in creating engagement? Yes. Does using good alt tags on them help my standings in online searches? Yes. Are they more important than the blog content itself? No.

This is a great example of the role timing plays. If I were to spend 45 minutes looking You deserve success.for a great image instead of writing the post it’s intended to enhance because the image hunt is easier and more fun, that’s majoring in a minor. But if, after the content is created and polished, I invest time finding an image that fits, then I’m majoring in a major; I’m just doing it in the proper time frame and making sure I put the cart after the horse.

This habit of doing what’s easy/comfortable often leads to dangerous, majoring-in-minor behavior number three.

You give equal time to all activities regardless, of ROI.

If you sweat and slave over an activity that gives you little or no return, and you do this at the expense of another (perhaps more difficult) activity that provides a high return, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

The challenge is to be ruthlessly honest with yourself about just how much benefit you derive from a particular business-building tactic. While you don’t want to try something once and quit because it didn’t pay off immediately, you also don’t want to spend your precious time on not-doing-me-a-damn-bit-of-good activities, either.

You research instead of create.

This is another situation in which you get to establish some kind of equilibrium, to ensure that you’re spending time wisely.

While it’s definitely smart to do some research on best practices, it’s distressingly easy to spend so much time researching – in the interest of thoroughness, of course – that you never move beyond research to actual creation of the product or service to offer your clients.

For example, as I started this particular post, I realized it could be either very short or of a moderate length. This got me wondering what the current thinking is on “ideal length for blog posts”, so I decided to do an online search for more information.

Danger, Will Robinson!

When you get over 16 million results for a single search, you know just how powerful that black hole of research can be.

Again, you don’t want to waste time recreating the wheel, but you simply have to put a limit on how much research you’ll do. Otherwise, you’ll end up reading other people’s work and never creating anything of your own that’s valuable.

This is close kin to the next counterproductive behavior that can indicate you’re majoring in minors.

You prepare (endlessly) instead of launch.

You can’t expect people to be eager for what you have to offer if your efforts look slap-dash, unprofessional, or superficial.

By the same token, if you allow any perfectionist tendencies to rear their ugly heads, you’ll get caught in an endless cycle of tweaking and improving and tweaking and improving…and none of your great ideas will ever make it out to the marketplace and the prospects who so desperately need them.

Preparation to launch a new venture or a new aspect of a current venture can take many forms: online research, live trainings, the aforementioned tweaking, clearing your chakras…There’s almost no limit. The challenge is to ensure these preparations are all strategically chosen to move you to your end goal, more quickly and efficiently than you could have gotten there without the preparation.

But you get to remember: You’ll never be 100% ready to launch, and it’s impossible to steer a bus that’s in “park”. Accept that, pull up your big-girl (or big-boy) pants, and just put your work out there. The Universe (AKA the market) will always step in and give you feedback to make things better.

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How many of these danger signals do you recognize in your own business? Are these counterproductive habits so deeply entrenched that you’re not sure how to break free of them? Then we need to talk.

I specialize in un-sticking stuck entrepreneurs. Getting together for a no-charge, no-risk, get-acquainted call will tell us whether we’d be a good fit for each other.

Is getting a compassionate kick in the butt something you need? Then step up to the plate, choose to major in the majors, and grab a spot in my calendar so we can figure out if we’re the best butt-kicking team for you.

(BTW, thanks to Ron Cogswell for the Baseball Hall of Fame image and Luyen Chou for the one of the baby baseball boy; I found both in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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