Standard Social Narratives
Disney cartoons. Romantic comedies. Books. Family upbringing.
They’re all selling you a story about how things should be; I call it the standard social narrative. It’s a collection of assumptions about how you should be, how others should treat you, and so on.
It’s baked so deeply into our culture that it’s difficult to recognize which story we’re writing and which story we’re reading.
Given long enough, if you wind up reading someone else’s story more than you write your own, these silent mental narratives can bind you more strongly than any physical chain.
What you believe is stronger than what is real.
Make the Invisible Visible
“I need to find the one.”
“My friends don’t actually like me; they just tolerate me hanging around.”
“I need to get a real job.”
These are just a couple examples of the mental narratives that we tell ourselves that can quickly constrict our way of thinking if we’re not careful. You’ve likely been thinking them so often that you don’t even realize they’re passing through.
Even though your conscious mind might not register them, those thoughts still shape the way you think about life, make choices, and interact with others. In short, they affect everything.
That makes them incredibly powerful, and without controlling them they can destroy you.
And you can’t simply wish your way out; you have to address them directly and dismantle their hold on you.
Every year you don’t deal with these silent narratives is another year you’re holding yourself back in business, relationships, money, and health.
5 Most Common Mental Locks (and how to pick them)
Over the years of studying the mind, working with clients, and reading as many books as I can by the best thinkers through time, I’ve uncovered 5 of the most common silent narratives that are keeping you trapped in your status quo.
Lock 1: “I need to figure things out first.”
Never before in the history of mankind have we had more information on hand, instantly. “Knowledge is power,” we say.
Information, by itself, is one of the worst ways to make change in our lives. You already know what to do. You have the answers already.
If “knowledge is power” were true, you’d already be the most powerful person in the world. You keep searching for the next detail. One more secret. And everything will change.
But when everything stays the same, you make a shift.
Instead of aggregating information, you now start looking for ways to apply it.
This is what I like to call “tactical hell.” You now try anything under the sun without an overarching strategy to guide our efforts. Eventually this will completely demoralize you, drain your energy, and make you less likely to try anything else in the future.
So what’s going on?
Lockpick 1: Potential to Kinetic Energy
Information overload, and paralysis by analysis keeps people from putting in effort by taking ACTION.
Action means you’d actually have to try. You’d actually have to care.
You might fail.
Once we figure out strategies to get our needs met, we tend to stick to what works. Even if it’s not working all that well. We get comfortable.
And the only thing that’s going to make a difference is action.
When I was learning to drive, I drove my Dad crazy with questions. I wanted to know everything there was to know about driving. Eventually though, I realized I was, in a way, stalling.
Instead, I had to take action.
We went out to a parking lot & I learned more in 10 minutes of trying it than I did in weeks of talking.
Since then, I’ve learned a way of thinking about opportunities I like to call Regret vs Disappointment.
I’d rather be disappointed than live with a regret because that means I at least tried.
Failure, disappointment, and making mistakes are an ESSENTIAL part of success and it’s the fear of all those that’s keeping you in the comfortable status quo.
Information is out there free and it’s worth exactly what you paid for it.
Action is priceless.
Lock 2: “I don’t have good ideas.”
Guttenberg screwed everything up.
Before him, humans were essential for everything. But that bastard put thousands of scribes out of work with his printing press. From that moment forward, we’ve been moving faster and faster towards a future where automation will eat every kind of manufacturing job that humans used to do.
With the development of the internet, it’s moving forward at light speed.
As we move out of an economy of labor, all our job security is leaving too. The only way to have control in the middle of the chaos is to start your own side business. It’s the fastest, most cost-effective strategy to drastically improve your income.
One of the biggest mental locks I see clients run into is the story, “Starting a business is hard.”
The belief is a dangerous shape-shifter that can take many forms.
- I don’t know what people would pay me for.
- I have so many ideas that I don’t know where to start! I don’t know how to start making money off ‘em.
- I haven’t had one original idea. Seems like someone’s already doing anything I dream up.
- I get distracted too easily. I never see a project through to the finish. I’ll start something, and then start something else.
Lots of people have versions of these beliefs rattling around in their head. So if you recognize one of those in yourself, you’ve got good company.
So how do we pick this lock?
Lockpick 2: Two Factor Authentication
My whole life is online. Keeping that information private is incredibly important to me. That’s why I’ve enabled 2 step verification on all my profiles online.
Not only do I need to remember my username & password (step 1), I also require a physical token or single-use number code texted to me (step 2). This way, I’m the only person who would feasibly have both pieces of information.
This keeps private things private, and drastically reduces the number of unwanted eyes on my information as low as possible.
Success is the same way.
It’s like success has its own 2 step verification, and if you don’t know the two questions to ask, you won’t have access to all the money, freedom, and control waiting on the other side of your efforts. Fortunately, I’m going to give them to you.
See, starting a business can be difficult. There are a bunch of skills you don’t have, questions you don’t have answers to, and your inner critic is yammering away nonstop. The cool part is, you don’t have to come up with a million good ideas; you just need a single profitable idea. One.
Usually, that idea is something you already know so well that you can’t imagine other people not being able to do it. Often you’re too close to it, and you don’t realize how valuable what you know already actually is.
Think about what you’re good at, what your friends & family ask your help with all the time, and what you enjoy doing already. If there’s a significant overlap of those areas you’re off to a good start.
Once you have an inkling of what your business idea is, here’s the 2 step verification to run on the idea to see if it will unlock success.
Think about your ideal customer you’re planning on selling to and ask these two questions:
- Do they have money to spend?
- Are they willing to spend that money?
If your idea doesn’t get a “yes” from both questions, it’s not a good business.
I’m not going to spend a majority of my time going after clients who want services, but don’t have money to spend on them.
I volunteer a couple hours a month at a professional development coalition for people who want coaching but don’t have the budget for it. It’s a great place to connect with motivated people who want to learn, but aren’t able to pay for it. Since most of the people who attend those free workshops don’t pass the first question, they’re not my ideal potential client.
I focus on working with companies and corporations because 1) they have a budget and 2) they recognize they need to spend money to make money. I focus on working with entrepreneurs who are already making money, but want to figure out how to free up more of their time with new ways of thinking about creating value.
So whatever idea you have, make sure it passes the 2 factor authentication process before moving forward.
Lock 3: "I want passive income."
Ah, yes. The siren song. Money while you sleep!
Sounds good, right? Get paid while you do nothing! I know why it’s so attractive, too. It’s because you’re already super busy with your normal 9-5 job, and it’s stressful as hell. You’re barely maintaining as it is, and the idea of throwing a second job on top of that will only serve to push you over the edge.
So you look for the easy button. You look for the guy telling you, “I made six figures this year on auto-pilot!”
What they don’t tell you is how they made it. They made money telling you how they made you buy their product about how they made you buy it. It’s no different than a multi-level marketing scheme.
But your back is against the wall. What are you supposed to do? You understand that you can’t go on living the way you’re living, so something has to change.
Lockpick 3: Make what you’re already doing more profitable.
I know a lot of successful people. One of my favorite people in the world (who I learned a lot of this stuff from) makes a ton of money, and you’d never know it. He doesn’t have a flashy house. He doesn’t live in a high rise apartment. If you saw him, you’d think he’s just like any other guy.
But he’s not.
He has multiple ways of making money, and a lot of those qualify as “passive income.” He’s written books and created courses that sell at a steady rate without much attention needed from him. He put in the time up front, and then that effort pays off again & again.
But he doesn’t spend his days sitting back and watching the sales click in.
He’s one of the hardest working people I’ve ever seen in my life. He is constantly working to optimize his systems, training his crew, and constantly finding ways to push how much he can achieve in one day.
He is about as far from passive as you can get. He’s active plus some.
If you want to be successful like him, you’re not going to get there by doing nothing. You don’t need to focus on your passive income, you need to learn how to make your active efforts more lucrative!
That means you’ll have to stop looking for that magic bullet. The short answer. You have the answer you’re already looking for; the job you already have.
Improve your active income.
Work on building skills that are rare and valuable in your industry. Find solutions for leadership. Find ways of doing things in a way that’s better than anyone else at your company.
Once you’ve demonstrated your value to the company (by showing how much money you’ve made & saved them), renegotiate your salary. Then, take the skills you’re already selling to the company you work for, and then start a small freelancing business on the side.
You’ll be able to make more per hour as a freelancer because a company’s whole goal is to sell your work to the client for more than they pay you. You might not be able to sell as many of your hours to your own clients, but the clients you do land will pay better than your job does.
This usually takes the wind out of people's’ sails. They want the success pill. They want the easy way.
Building your pre-existing skills, working on being a more productive employee, and freelancing mean they actually have to put in some effort. It’s not the “sip coconut rum on the beach” dream they have.
That’s the bad news. The good news is most people aren’t going to do it. Which means you stand a much better chance of making it farther with less effort because you have fewer competitors.
Lock 4: "I can’t get a raise."
There’s a part of Lockpick 3 that usually trips people up: negotiating a better salary. The main reason is they believe the silent narrative that the economy is garbage, and they should be thankful they have a job in the first place.
I get it. The news is on a 24/7 cycle explaining why we’re headed for global financial ruin, and your manager is constantly talking about how tight the budget is. You’re happy for the 3% raise you got this year, so you should probably not stick your neck out by asking for more money.
If you believe that, you’re right; you don’t deserve the raise.
Lockpick 3: Cost/Benefit Thinking
Once upon a time I worked at Disney. I was hired as part of the college internship program, and a part of the agreement was getting to attend Disney University.
I took as many courses as I could in the 9 months I was there. I recognized there would be no better opportunity to see the inner workings of how one of the most recognized brands in the world operates.
One of the classes I took that did the most good was “The business of marketing you.”
The instructor explained how to negotiate your salary during the hiring process, and explained it’s exactly the same way after you’ve been hired, too. Since that time I’ve been on both sides of the hiring process, and can tell you first-hand it works.
Hiring someone is a costly process. There’s so much time that goes into it that a company wants it over as quickly as possible. It’s not an unreasonable number to expect a company to spend between $5,000 to $10,000 searching for the right candidate.
Now that you know how expensive it is for them to hire someone new, you have. . . leverage.
When you go into your negotiation ready to explain the ways you’ve made the company money & saved the company money every week you’ve been there (you’re keeping track of that in an ongoing Google Slideshow, right?), you also know that it makes better financial sense to give you the $5,000 to $10,000 raise instead of gambling on the prospect of firing you and looking for someone new.
Your institutional knowledge, proven benefit to the corporate, etc are just too valuable to squabble over a couple thousand dollars.
It’s barely noticeable to them, but makes a huge difference to you.
Lock 5: “Yeah, well, negotiating might work when I’m getting hired, but my company won’t let me renegotiate.”
During my time as a traveling entertainer, I had the opportunity to travel to Istanbul, Turkey for a television thing. Fortunately (because I’m a hell of a networker) I had a friend who lived there, and could show me around. We met when I worked at Universal Studios (yeah, I worked both sides of the fence. Disney AND Universal. Don’t tell ‘em.)
When I had a free afternoon she took me to a couple bazaars and I shopped around for some trinkets to bring home. She was my personal negotiator. She was from there, so she knew how to haggle like a pro.
At a hookah shop we talked about how different it is in Turkey vs America. Americans don’t really negotiate for anything other than cars, and even then there’s a booming business for people who dread that whole process (carmax.com).
We don’t want to come across as cheap, needing charity, or rude. You might think you haven’t been working at your job long enough to re-negotiate your salary. There’s any number of reasons why you’re leaving money on the table. I get it.
But the thing is, everything is negotiable.
You can’t let your mind trap keep you locked out of making more out of your time.
Lockpick 5: Think like someone who has earned it.
The easiest way to think like someone who earned it is to be a person who has earned it! Exchange value for value. It’s the only way the world works. Otherwise someone is stealing from the other person in the exchange.
A top level lockpick knows that negotiating can actually make you more attractive to a company. When you do it the right way, you’ll make your boss eager to give you a raise.
Caveat. If you’re someone who complains all the time. If you’re someone who gossips all the time. If you’re someone who leaves at 4:58 everyday without saying bye to anyone. I’m not talking to you.
The cool part is, I know that’s not you. (They never get this far into the article. They’re looking for the easy path, and that leads to the lowest level. You’re a top level player!)
I don’t care how wrecked the economy is because no matter how bad it is, it just means the valuable people who know how to thrive (no matter what) are worth that much more. Your company (if it’s smart) will want to do everything in their power to keep you happy.
That’s why the first step of picking this lock is understanding the way an elite level performer thinks, and then align your thinking to match.
Before reading this you probably had an unspoken narrative that you should kiss the ground simply for having a job. You don’t want to cause any ripples and wind up getting fired.
Now, though, you understand you always have options. If you don’t have options, dammit, you’re going to create them.
Everyone benefits by negotiating. It’s a win-win approach to look for solutions that make everybody happy.
You made it to the end!
I know it’s a lot of information to digest all at once, and I think you’ll agree it was worth wading through. I hope you use everything in here to unlock your mind from those limiting beliefs, and then negotiate yourself into a better position in life.
Do that and you’ll be making powerful change.
If you think you know anyone else who could benefit from this article, please do you, me, & them a solid by sharing it with them.
If you want to learn more about how to approach life with the mindset of a mentalist, then you can join the email list by signing up there on the sidebar, or get in touch directly to set up a “brain picking session” where we can chat and see whether we’d be a good fit to work together for 1-on-1 coaching.
Or you can just send me an email to say hi. I read everything that comes my way.