The CARE Method: Entrepreneurial Success! It's Just 4 Letters Away
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
I spent years trying to convince people of my worth. I sought validation, confirmation and connection; rarely, did I find these things. I'd outperform my peers, dress for success, attend networking events -- you name it, I did it: all for a bit of recognition from people who, I quickly learned, had had little faith in me from the get-go.
After two decades of this, I realized I'd been going about it all wrong. Regardless of others' views (or my own 20-year need for validation), I chose to ignore the naysayers and instead focus on the experiences I was collecting to reach the top -- on my own.
Starting from the bottom
I'm not the first who's tasted a little failure, only to push through it to the other side. Reddit, now one of the most popular online platforms in the world, was once an unheard-of fish in an ever-growing pond. After its launch in 2005, the site saw zero visitors, but Reddit's founders soon had a plan: When they realized that the platform's users weren't going to magically appear overnight, they began creating fake accounts and fake discussions until visitors took notice and jumped in themselves.
With a little creativity and a fake-it-till-you-make-it attitude -- plus a lot of gumption and self-confidence -- you'll find that success isn't out of reach. To make that journey even easier, however, I offer a clear-cut format to guide you. I call it the CARE method. Here are what those four letters stand for:
Stay . . . curious. Perhaps Albert Einstein said it best when he said: "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." To get ahead in life, you too should stay wildly curious. In that context, you'll find answers to some important questions: Is this company really the one you want to work for? Does that person believe in you the way you believe in yourself?
Curiosity leads us to our next answer, our next big move. It takes us down our inevitable path.
Be . . . accountable. Accountability is a two-way street: It requires equity and balance. When people aren't accountable, the scale is tipped, and equality is jeopardized. In your career, you may attempt to impress others to balance that scale, only to slip back into a place teeming with defeat and negativity.
Being truly accountable to yourself and your values -- and being clear about your expectations of others -- will help you learn to balance future relationships much more easily.
Get . . . relatable. Deliver your message to the world in a relatable way. First, stop trying to convince people of your (and your brand's) worth, and instead look for those people who already believe. They're out there; you just have to stay curious enough to find them, and when you do, make sure they can effectively deliver your authentic message.
Once you've done that, remember that not everyone will sing your praises -- that's okay. Stick to your message and stay relatable. By resonating at a higher level with full trust in who you are, eventually someone will take notice.
Evaluate and . . . execute. It's easy to execute a decision purely on emotions, but stop and ask first whether you successfully achieved the first three CARE phases: Were you curious enough to gather all the data needed to make the smart decision you need to make? Were you accountable to yourself and others to ensure you're operating out of a place of balance?
Is your message authentic, and is it getting across so other people relate to it (and to you)? This is the pause before the pivot. Be sure you can answer these questions affirmatively before moving forward.
While the CARE method certainly applies to our everyday lives, it also applies to our entrepreneurial ones. Even serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk seemed to agree when he said: "The best marketing strategy: care." The following steps will help you achieve success in conjunction with CARE:
1. Chase it until you face it.
The sooner you face your fears and regrets, the sooner you can move past what keeps you from moving forward. This includes facing your critics and naysayers. Do this, and watch believers come out of the woodwork and into your space. The success of Airbnb, in fact, was born out of an onslaught of challenges, fears and nonbelievers. Its founders had little backing, no investors and zero faith from others in their space. With persistence and creativity, the company eventually took off. Today, CNBC puts Airbnb's worth at $31 billion.
2. Think small.
Small daily actions add up to a lot -- this is the art of microshifting. We get more of what we focus on, so rather than focus solely on an end goal, think of small, actionable steps to take each day that can change your experience more profoundly. In fact, a Harvard Business School professor studied thousands of diary entries in her analysis of incremental progress to determine what made some people more apt to succeed than others. Apparently, experiencing a sense of progress is essential in spurring productivity and long-term creativity. Long story short: Small wins translate to a major difference in performance over time.
3. Be relentless in your self-promotion.
Always be your No. 1 cheerleader. Shout from the rooftops; do cartwheels in the office; take to social media when you achieve positive life wins. No one will ever promote your successes the way you can, so don't wait for validation from others. If self-promotion is seen as authentic and coming from a place of confidence, others will respond. Consider legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, who loudly and proudly proclaimed, "I am the greatest!" We didn't jeer in response; we cheered.
According to Art Business News, "We may root for the underdog, but we buy from the winners." Case in point: When the Zune and the iPod first hit the market, we were apt to root for Zune, the underdog. Still, when push came to shove, it was an iPod we all ended up with in our pockets.
4. Never stop learning about yourself.
In the end, the process of self-actualization is what it's all about. As we continue to collect one experience after another, we're microshifting our way through life. In doing so, why not learn everything you can about yourself? With time, you'll find the power and confirmation you sought all along. In fact, a study by the American Management Association found that the strongest indicator of success was extreme self-awareness. Can't get much more proof than that.
To put it simply: CARE enough to take care of yourself, your career, your opportunities and your future. Self-worth and validation will come from that move -- and not from anyone else but you.