Sharpening the Axe

Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to fell a tree and I’ll take four to sharpen the axe”

During his presentation on marketing at our local GKIC gathering in Westminster, Colorado last week, Mike Searls, winner of the 2010-2010 GKIC Marketer of the Year Award was asked by someone in the audience what marketing skills there were to practice.

I don’t about you, but I was like, WTF?. I mean in my world there’s a pretty darn long list of skills required that, as owner-operator, I’m constantly honing every day.

It’s a never ending process, almost like what a master blacksmith, or sculptor does, constantly evolving, getting better all the time, yet ever discovering new frontiers.

What are the skills you MUST develop as a master marketer and successful entrepreneur?   Here are just a few I came up with off the top of my head.  Perhaps you have a different set on your list:

  • Driving traffic
  • Converting traffic
  • Selling
  • Prospecting (same as driving traffic, but on a one-by-one basis), Presenting
  • Closing
  • Getting referrals
  • Copywriting
  • Packaging
  • Promoting
  • Public speaking
  • Negotiating
  • Technical skills, from loading your iPod to HTML basics
  • Time Management and “Getting Things Done”
  • Budgeting, cash flow, asset protection
  • Leadership, delegation, organization and communication

And the list goes on… doesn’t it? Of course, you can’t excel at everything, so you focus on the one or several that are your “Unique Ability(TM, Strategic Coach)”

Let me ask your something… What if your Fairy Godmother could wave her magic wand and grant you complete, absolute results-getting mastery over every one of these skills – what effect would that have on your business and personal life?

It’s not a magic wand, but here’s useful fact: It takes only 21 days of daily practice to form a new habit. That means over the course of a year you could form 17 new, super-productive, results-getting habits.

Suppose you started next year with a newly acquired mastery over 21 essential marketing skills – Wow, would you look forward to that year? Of course you would, it would be pretty darned exciting, wouldn’t it?

One simple habit you can practice is devoting a daily time block to mastery of a certain skill or skill set. For instance, many great copywriters I know devote something like 60 minutes a day, in every case I’ve heard of, first thing in the morning, to writing. After all, the way to become a writer is to … Write.

What skill, if you mastered it, could make the biggest difference in your business this year? Why not take the next 21 days and devote one, five, twenty or even sixty minutes a day to developing that skill. Surely you could at least find a minute.

And here’s a bonus tip from Craig Ballantyne of Early To Rise; If blocking the time is an issue, start with one minute. Then add another minute each day. In this case, you’d get yourself to 20 minutes per day by the time it became habit.

Do without a cup of coffee, a casual conversation, or taking in the latest news/gossip or YouTube video to find the time.

Guess which star basketball player could always be found practicing on the court after the games were over and the crowds had gone home? If you guessed Michael Jordan you’d be right.

Daily skill development, sharpening the axe, could be your ticket to the business and life you dream of.


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