Flow State: A Guide To Falling In Love With Work Again

Flow State: A Guide To Falling In Love With Work Again

How To Get Into “The Zone”, Find Peak Performance and Make Work Suck Less

Let’s Go To The Flow (State)

So, I’ve been doing creative work for years and if there’s one thing I know…it’s that there’s no better place or feeling than being in flow. For solopreneurs, self-employed individuals, and creative professionals, tapping into the elusive state of flow can be transformative. it can feel elusive or fleeting, but it doesn’t have to. In this guide, we’ll explore how understanding and harnessing flow state can revolutionize your productivity and creativity.

And if your income depends on you delivering, the stakes are high.  But, we really do think you can create the conditions that lead to better outcomes and better work. So read on intrepid creator!  ⛰️

Understanding Flow State

Coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, flow state is the pinnacle of focus and immersion in an activity. It’s that magical feeling of being “in the zone,” where time seems to vanish, distractions fade away, and productivity soars. But, how do you know when you’re there? You’ll know you’ve reached that nirvana when you’re experiencing any or all of the following:

  1. Intense Focus: You’re immersed completely in your work, shutting out distractions and honing in on the task at hand. The simplicity of being focused creates a warm bubble around you and nothing else really matters.  

  2. Loss of Self-awareness: Experience a blissful detachment from self-consciousness and time, as you become absorbed in your work.  Really tHis just means all the internal distractions have subsided or moved waaaay back in your mind.  

  3. Effortless Action:  Feel a sense of ease and fluency in your actions, where tasks seem to unfold effortlessly. Have you ever looked up from a project or skated it with a colleague and they were like “holy shit, this is a ton of work.” That’s the result when its “effortless”.   I remember being in the zone on a outdoor tourism project I was working on.  I pretty much mapped out and generated 50 pages of content in like 8 hours. The client couldn’t believe it. 

  4. Timelessness:  You enter a state where time becomes irrelevant, either flying by or standing still, as you remain engrossed in the present moment. We don’t recommend you miss too many drink and snack breaks, but when time is less relevant, cool things happen.  I experience this timelessness in my personal life when I’m crafting outdoor furniture (a new hobby – obsession – of mine) I get so into it that I miss meals.  It’s kind of magical.

  5. Intrinsic Motivation: You feel driven by an internal desire to excel and succeed in your endeavors. This is “embracing the challenge” with curiosity and child mind.  You’ve pushed past the “I’ve got to get this done” due to some external pressure. You are in this for the craft and experience.

8 Strategies To Find, Sustain (and Revisit) Flow State 🔥

  1. Set Clear Goals: Define precise and attainable objectives for your projects to provide a roadmap for your efforts and maintain focus. And if you’re feeling froggy, make one of those goals to “experiment” with whatever you’re working on (see below). 🎯

  2. Match Challenge with Skill: Engage in tasks that leverage your abilities while presenting a moderate level of challenge to foster optimal conditions for flow.  Listen.  Here’s the magic.  You can’t do things well that you’ve never done before so flow state happens when you’re leveraging your skills and pushing yourself just a little bit outside your comfort zone.  So, My pal Gene Crawford equates this to the magic he experiences when he’s practicing martial arts.  He’s put the work in for years so the flow and routine are there, but he’s taking this thing he does well and pushing himself to new limits.  Sort of like the “1% every day” concept.  💪

  3. Minimize Distractions: Create a distraction-free workspace by silencing notifications, finding a quiet corner, and prioritizing uninterrupted work periods. To do deep work, you MUST eliminate distractions.  On average distractions make anything we’re working on take 3X as long.  So, do yourself a favor and turn it all off.  The world will be okay and you owe it to whatever you’re working on (PS: And while you’re at it, come book one of our focus meeting rooms at SOCO – you’re welcome). 🎧

  4. Cultivate Deep Focus:  Incorporate mindfulness practices like deep breathing and meditation into your routine to enhance concentration. This is a muscle and skill that most of us don’t have or is very weak.  Stay fully present in your work, channeling your energy into the present moment to maximize focus and productivity. 🔬

    Need help training your mind and body in simple ways to enter a more focused state.  Tip: Try a mindfulness app like Headspace for 30 days and see how It impacts your days.

  5. Embrace Flow Triggers:  Identify activities or rituals that consistently evoke flow state and incorporate them into your routine.  Be prepared to launch, but one of my best flow triggers is when I open up Spotify and dial in the Calm Radio station.  It triggers something in my brain that tells me “it’s time to focus, Greg”.  Find your rituals and do them regularly before you get dialed in. 🚦

  6. Embrace Failure as Feedback: Listen.  If you’re doing creative work (especially), better outcomes come from failure.  Creating is an iterative process and you need to make time and space to experiment, fail and learn.  Learn about “the child mind” and embrace this way of looking at whatever it is you’re working on.  You’ll thank me for it. 💡

  7. Engage in Challenging Activities Regularly: Seek out opportunities that push your boundaries and expand your capabilities to strengthen your skill set.  If you stay in your safe, comfortable space then you’ll have a lot of trouble creating great things.  Get your mind and body comfortable being uncomfortable and you’ll unlock a lot more productivity and results. 🏋🏾‍♀️

  8. Chill Out With Rigid Structures: And maybe don’t try so hard to “architect” your perfect flow state. Here’s a great post from Dan Martin where he advocates for a less rigid approach to embracing your flow state. 🧊


By integrating these strategies into your regular work routine, you can cultivate an environment conducive to flow state, unlocking your full potential as a solo entrepreneur or creative professional. Embrace the journey of discovering and maintaining flow state, and enjoy the joy of doing great work again people.  You’re worth it. 🫶🏽

Need a Little More Inspiration? ✨

Looking to stay in this flow state zen a little longer? Check out Gene and I’s recent conversation on the topic on The Communal Podcast here.  We get into to our own personal practices, our struggles with Flow State and some tips we’ve picked up along the way.

About The Author:

Greg Hilton is the cofounder and managing partner for SOCO, SOCO is a thriving platform and community focused on supporting creators, indie workers and entrepreneurs just like you. He’s an avid outdoorsman, creator and storyteller. He’s also been self-employed and a business owner for nearly two decades and has worked with hundreds of solos, creators and entrepreneurs to help them lead better and more meaningful lives.

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8 Planning Tips To Help You Walk Into 2024 On Fire 🔥

8 Planning Tips To Help You Walk Into 2024 On Fire 🔥

Get Ready to Have Your Best Year Yet With Some Simple Planning Guidance

So, How’d Your Year Go?

“Dumpster fire”. “Lucky I Just Survived”. “I crushed it like a tin can:, Or simply “meh…”. These are all acceptable answers, but we should endeavor to dig a little deeper. And with the holidays upon us our annual “get out of jail free” card is back. We get to wipe the slate clean.

Every year, around this time, I try to slow things down just a bit and take some time to think about the year that was: What I accomplished. What didn’t go so well. How the journey felt along the way (that matters a lot). I also ask myself some easy and hard questions around what my hopes, dreams and goals are for the next year. We like to think about the future around SOCO. We like to lay out some “destinations” we’d like to get to in that future. I don’t care so much about how we get there because there are a bunch of different ways.

Ready To Have a Better Next Year Than This Year?

Me too. I really think that life is just a series of experiments. Little baby experiments where we learn things and make incremental progress. I fully subscribe to the “1% Every Day” concept. I think it’s a fundamental part of our existence as human beings….to evolve.

So, let’s talk about how we can take stock, hit reset and position ourselves to have our best year yet. Have some ideas to add? Drop them in the comment below. So, here’s to your evolution in the new year my friends. We can do this (together). So, let’s go!

8 Planning Tips To Start Next Year On Fire 🔥

  1. Take time to reflect on the year that was, really – Make sure you celebrate your hard fought wins, but don’t forget to also acknowledge areas where you struggled.  This is the growth mindset…get you some (and write them down).  I bet if you’re intentional about exploring all you’ve accomplished this year….your cup will runneth over. 🥂

  2. Refill Your Cup – Speaking of cups. No one can run hard 24/7.  Take time to nourish your mind, body, spirit and relationships.  Rest.  Sleep. Laugh.  Do something to really take care of yourself over the break.  Be intentional about rewarding yourself.  😴

  3. Commit To Kicking Imposter Syndrome – Here’s are some facts that I’ve uncovered through 20 years in business. Everyone is full of shit. Everyone has ridden the struggle bus at one point. And everyone has something they are truly wonderful at. And lastly…you and me both deserve the success the we have worked so hard to achieve (however you define that). So, stop thinking you can’t do it. Kick that fear to the curb. 😔

  4. Set Some Reasonable Goals – Focus on growth.  On getting better.  On improving.  Set some goals that you can achieve, given your resources and situation.  Write them down and share them.  And while you’re at it, do personal and professional goals.  Because we are whole people.  🎯

  5. Create a Bias Towards Action – It’s amazing how the first 3 months of the year set the tone for the rest.  Position yourself to take action early in the year.  🏃🏿

  6. Get An “Accountabili-buddy” – We’re way more likely to get the work done when we’re not the only ones we’re “reporting to”.  Find a friend or colleague that you can share your goals with and commit to regular check-ins with each other.  Accountability is crucial.  👐🏼

  7. Send something big out into the universe – Challenge yourself to think and act bigger by writing down and sharing an audacious goal.  Something that’s not very safe.  You have permission to dream a little (and fail).  What’s most likely is that your big crazy goal will push you farther (even if you miss the mark) and you’ll grow.  💥

  8. Just Don’t Give Up – Here’s something else we’ve learned. Success can be about outthinking, out hustling or out maneuvering the competition. But, normally…it’s just about outlasting them. If you believe in what you are doing, then make a commitment to not stop. Regardless of what life throws at you in the new year…don’t stop. Don’t give up. Don’t give in to fear. Be bold.. Be audacious.. Be true to yourself. Don’t stop until you’ve reached your destination. 💪🏽

Need a Little More Inspiration?

Looking for a little more inspo as you roll into the New Year? Check out this great episode on the Communal podcast as Greg and Gene expose a fundamental truth: failure is not the end, but a critical step of personal and professional evolution. We open up about fear, resilience and personal growth.  If you need a reset for 2024, this might just be your medicine.  

About The Author:

Greg Hilton is the cofounder and managing partner for SOCO, SOCO is a thriving platform and community focused on supporting creators, indie workers and entrepreneurs just like you. He’s an avid outdoorsman, creator and storyteller. He’s also been self-employed and a business owner for nearly two decades and has worked with hundreds of solos, creators and entrepreneurs to help them lead better and more meaningful lives.

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#GetaLife: 10 Productivity Approaches To Own Your Week

#GetaLife: 10 Productivity Approaches To Own Your Week

10 Productivity approaches to explore to get the work done and make time for life.

You Ain’t Gotta Go To Work, Work, Work, Work

But, as the song goes, you gotta put in the work. I love the idea of work, intellectually. It’s really interesting. We all have to do it. We (almost) all assign a lot of value in our lives to our “work product” or how we contribute to the world. Some of us “go to work” to feed our families. Some of us go to work because we’re driven to make a difference. Most of us, are striving to a little bit of both. We have crazy busy lives AND a lot of stuff (hopefully) that fills our cup outside of work. But, most weeks it feels like there is WAY (LIKE WAY) too much to get done and many of us find ourselves sitting there on Friday frustrated that our efforts fell short of our ambitions.

How In The World Do We Get It All Done?

Good. Me too. I know my purpose. I know why I work. It’s to provide for my family, make the world a better place and move us all forward. I’m working towards a goal of being financially independent, of having the ability to do what I want, when I want and with people that have meaning to me. But, man…some weeks just feel like I’m riding in a literally dumpster as it careens down the hill on fire. Does this sounds like you? If so, this question is for you. How can we do both? Do big, meaningful work AND live a rich full lives outside of work; filled with friends, family, community.

Ever Heard of Parkinson’s Law?

It’s this theory penned by a humorist named Cyril Northcote Parkinson, which essentially says “Hey dummy. There’s a reason that you get to the end of your day/week/month feeling like a failure. The work will just expand to fill up your life if you don’t have a system in place.” Parkinson’s Law was first used to explain why bureacracies get bigger, But, it’s also super helpful as a way of thinking about loads of different types of work, including PERSONAL PRODUCTIVITY.

So, if you find yourself on the struggle bus, In part, you have this asshole’s theory to thank for it. But, you also need to take a hard look in the mirror and realize that it’s on you too and not some dude from the 50’s.

Ready To Make Some Productivity Changes?

You and me both friend. A few months ago, I started a journey to casually investigate some of the things that others are doing to get more productivity out of their weeks AND I started experimenting with some of these same approaches myself.
So, let’s commit to some things.

  1. We can and will take control of our work weeks.
  2. We WILL prioritize our lives outside of work more
  3. We SHALL commit to understanding the difference between busy work and meaningful work.
  4. We are committed and open to loving/respecting ourselves enough to figure out what works best for us.
  5. And yes….we will be open to trying new shit. That chid mind is the only way to embrace these new approaches (because some will be hard).

10 Approaches to Productivity That Might Save Your Week

Okay! With the above commitments in hand, here are some solid approaches that you can use in our company, with. your team and in your personal life to end more weeks better than you started them. I’ve learned some productivity lessons the hard way from being self-employed and a business owner for nearly 20 years.

  1. Really Understand Your Week: David Baker of Punctuation.com said it best. “There are three kinds of days in your week. “Get Shit Off Your Plate” days, “Create High Value” days and “Live in Context” Days. Know that each of these will need regular attention, but know which ones help you create the kind of momentum you need. 🙄

  2. Set Reasonable Expectations/Goals: Just trust me on this one. There is mental and emotional momentum you generate when you finish things. And the opposite occurs when you end the week with a massive to do list still intact. Remember, part of this game is getting good at work so you don’t take it home and into your personal time (which is vitally important). 🎯

  3. Prioritize “Crucial” Stuff: Remember those “Create High Value” days? Know what’s important to get done and what’s not and make the priorities just that. In our shop, we call them “crucial results”. Simply put, they are the things that fall into one of two categories: Getting them done either generates big results and momentum (ex: “If we can ship this proposal, we’ll be in the running for that major account.”) OR prevents bad things from happening (ex: “If I don’t get this product launched by Wednesday, we’re going to miss the big announcement date.”). 💥

  4. Time Block or Else: Listen. If you’re not protecting creative time, strategic time or deep work time, then that’s on you. Some stuff just simply requires you to unplug and stay laser focused. I practice time blocking regularly for important stuff, but I also time block banks of “nothing on the calendar” time to batch the things that roll into my view that I do need to deal with just not in the moment. Here’s a great article on time blocking for you from our friends at todoist. ⏲️

  5. Try Monk Mode: Have trouble with focus? Try to be like a monk. Monk mode is a period of enhanced focus, discipline, and productivity where you eliminate as many distractions as you can and commit yourself to completing a goal. It’s good for task management, but it’s an even better life practice that can be applied to lots of things. But, you have to create the right environment. I enjoyed this productivity read from Jeroen V on Medium. It helped me better understand what monk mode is and how it’s an approach to life (and not just a productivity hack). 🧘🏼

  6. Eliminate Distractions: Need to do some deep work or some focused work? Why the hell do you bring all the distractions of modern day work and life with you? That’s simply cray cray. Turn off the phone (or at least put it in do not disturb). Put do not disturb setting on you laptop. Find a distraction free place to get that work done (remember those workspaces? Way better than your home office or a coffee shop for deep work). Silence the chimes, pushes, pings, etc. Every time you pause to look, read, listen etc you throw yourself off your game and get nothing done. 🦗

  7. Explore The Pomodoro Technique: If you are looking for a smart way to bang out a bunch of smaller tasks within a timeframe and normally have a lot of open ended tasks that could take forever if you let them, try the Pomodoro Technique. It’s an approach where you break tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks with dedicated short timeframes. Think of it like a “mini-sprint” with breaks. Here’s a good read on how to implement this. Promodor = Productivity 🏃🏾‍♀️

  8. Take Breaks: Yes. Take breaks. Pomodoro says so. 😊 Take a 10 minute break for every hour of focused work you put in. Change your scenery when you find yourself being unfocused or stuck (walk anyone?). Breaks also serve up a bonus…build in an automatic water bottle chugging 30-second session into your break to make sure you stay hydrated all day. For me, every time I use the bathroom, I take a 30-second pit stop at the water fountain. Non-negotiable. #HydrateorDie

  9. Wrangle Your Meetings: Listen. I’m collaborative. I love meetings with others. I think they are super valuable for creativity/innovation. At the same time, I know people who literally don’t ever get out of their chairs b/c they are in an endless stream of meetings (that’s not right or healthy). If meetings make your list of “things that I think get in the way of me doing great work”, then do something about it. Can you cut a meeting time in half with a more focused agenda? Are there meetings that aren’t 100% critical that you be there for? Delete. Can you restructure how your team meets overall to tap into some extra “productivity” time? I bet you can. It is 100% worth examining.. Here’s a good resource on the topic (with some sobering stats). 🛑

  10. Reward Yourself: When you accomplish something big, reward yourself in some small way. Maybe share a win with colleagues (we have a #winning channel in our work cooperative for people to do just that). Treat yourself to a bevvy or that break I was talking about before is a proper reward for productivity. 🎁

  11. BONUS (We just couldn’t resist)!
    Delegate (Responsibly): In our design firm, Period Three, we used to get these awful referrals from one of our “partners”. They’d send over work to us that they had already passed on. It wasn’t a good client or a good fit for them and those referrals ended up (surprise surprise) being trash for us too. Don’t be them. If you’re going to delegate tasks (and you 100%, absolutely have to to get anything done), be a responsible delegator. This could be a whole other blog post, but here are some quick tips. 🏎️
    • Don’t be a “drive-by delegator”: Deliver clearly communicated tasks, with specific deadlines and understood expectations for success. Don’t just “drive by” and drop some shit on a team member.
    • Delegate Strategically: If there are things on your plate that you’re not good at? Give them to people who are? Don’t just hand out trash to someone else. Leverage your teams skills to get more done together.
    • Delegate For The Right Reasons: Don’t give someone something because you don’t want to do it. Put on your big boy/girl pants and do the hard stuff too.

If you’ve made it to the bottom of this list…you have now “invested” 15 minutes of your precious time into bettering yourself and your work week. Now….go put one or more of these ideas into practice to start generating an ROI.

Want Some More Productivity Convo?

Looking for a little more? Check out this great episode on the Communal podcast where Greg and Gene dig into how we structure our weeks to avoid going insane. It’s a really good (and candid) conversation.

About The Author:

Greg Hilton is the cofounder and managing partner for SOCO, SOCO is a thriving platform and community focused on supporting creators, indie workers and entrepreneurs just like you. He’s an avid outdoorsman, creator and storyteller. He’s also been self-employed and a business owner for nearly two decades and has worked with hundreds of solos, creators and entrepreneurs to help them lead better and more meaningful lives.

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Financial Lessons from the SOCO Community

Financial Lessons from the SOCO Community

We’ve spent the past month discussing finances in the SOCO community. It’s a popular topic, and we wanted to dedicate a month focused on independence talking about financial freedom. 

It’s a time for the community to ask questions, participate in monthly challenges, and learn how to manage their money better.  

As July comes to a close, we’ve rounded up some good advice from our members and resources shared in the community. 

Create a Rainy Day (or 911 Fund) 

As one of our members put it, you need a 911 fund. 

It’s money you set aside when things don’t go well. For example, an unexpected car expense, an uncovered medical bill, or (gasp) your AC starts having issues in the middle of a Columbia summer. 

Most financial gurus will tell you to have 3 to 6 months of living expenses saved to cover the expensive stuff life throws your way and to help in the event of a job or income loss. 

Get started today by setting up an automated transfer to a savings account and create a goal for how much you need to be saved based on your lifestyle and expenses. 

Get Tools and Tech to Help You 

Finding the right tools can help you hit those money goals. And the best tool you can have is a budget (okay, calm down, we know you’re thrilled about budgeting). 

If spreadsheets aren’t your thing, there are plenty of great apps and online resources to help. Try this list of the best personal finances apps which are Certified Financial Planner approved.  

One member recommended You Need a Budget (YNAB) because it forces you to budget the money in your bank account, so you prioritize your needs.

Set Realistic Goals 

It’s essential to know what’s going on with your money. 

Get organized on what’s coming in (income) and what’s going out (expenses). Then, work on creating goals for your emergency fund (911 fund), future purchases, travel, and whatever else you have going on in life. 

When you create goals, look honestly at your finances to see what’s feasible. And give yourself the flexibility to adjust when you need to. 

Know Where Your Money is Going

Bottom line, you need to know what’s happening with your money. Look at credit card statements and transaction history to see where you spend most of your money. 

If you’re struggling to save, find areas you can cut (like streaming services or Amazon lightning deals). 

Sometimes our spending can go up with our income. 

“Income creep” is real and can happen in the blink of an eye. NPR has a few great ways you can watch out (and prevent) it in this article

Increasing your financial knowledge will payoff continually. 

And it’s a long game. 

The important thing is to continue re-evaluating, adapting, and staying committed to your money goals. 

Stop Living in the Gap

Stop Living in the Gap

I live my life in the gap.  Every day.  And I bet you do too.

I’ve always been this way.  A former boss and one of the best mentors I’ve had professionally, Neil McLean who is an EOS Implementer used to tell me this regularly.  He knew it.  He saw it.  The pursuit of creating value, building community and making a difference drives me.  Where I am right now today is not as good as where I’ll be when I accomplish the next thing (sound familiar?).  That’s the gap.  The “gap” between where you are today and where you want to be in this “ideal” future. It was coined by a guy named Dan Sullivan, who has been a growth coach for high achievers for decades and has even written a book about this called “The Gap and The Gain”

For many, living in the gap can be a tremendous motivator, pushing you to achieve more, create more value or impact more people’s lives.  But for a lot of us, it represents a moving target that we’ll never reach…leading to tremendous frustration, angst and dissatisfaction.  

Translation: Being unhappy whilst simultaneously working your ass off.  No bueno.  

The best analogy I can give is the distance runner that finishes a race and immediately signs up for the next marathon..never taking a moment (hell, take a bloody day) to pause and appreciate what they have accomplished.  

This is me and it has brought me as much pain as fulfillment in my more than a decade of being on my entrepreneurial journey.  Think about the mind fuckery behind this concept.  If you’re “living in the gap” constantly, then every time you accomplish something, your brain tells you that you haven’t reached your goal yet.  Living in the gap tells you that what you just did is not good enough.  And for me…it’s just simply exhausting…

I bet you can imagine all sorts of ways that this could screw you up. You do something meaningful for your life partner and their response is “great, but did you do the other thing I asked you?”  A kid gets his first hit (ever) in Little League, but strikes out the other three at bats and his father says “Not bad, but you could have gotten four hits.”  A founder who tracks her KPIs every month, but is comparing those metrics to where she WANTS to be and not to where the company was a year ago and feels like she’s never making progress.  

Does this resonate?  Did you just twitch a little?  Are you crying in a puddle of your own tears?  It’s cool.  Because now you know about this thing called the “Gap”.

This month in the SOCO Community, we’re celebrating the halfway point of this year and taking some stock of where we are and what’s next.  So in that spirit, I wanted to explore how we might be able to live in the gap in a more meaningful way.  Here are five things I’m trying to do to be more present and live more meaningfully in the gap.  🙂 

  1. Recognize it and Own It
    Acknowledge that you are a person that lives in the gap.  That you might never get out of the gap and that it’s okay.  Acknowledge that this might be who you are and practice some radical acceptance of that.  It’ll free you (a bit).  Now that you know about it, you’re going to see it everywhere.  Take stock of that, recognize it for what it is and give yourself some grace when your “gappy mcgapperson” rears its ugly head. 
  2. Take a Break
    One of the best ways to combat this “living in the gappedness” is to force yourself to take a break to invest in other areas of your life.  Physical wellness, mental wellness, emotional wellness or relational wellness. Because let’s face it.  If you live in the gap, you’re dragging the people in your life along with you.  And that ain’t right. 
  3. Turn Around, Dummy
    Listen.  One of the most powerful ways that I’ve combatted the gap in my personal and work life is by just pressing pause and turning my head around 180 degrees.  Take a look backwards 6, 9, 12 or more months to see how far you’ve actually come in relation to whatever it is that you measure (business KPIs, miles run, etc…).  9 times out of 10, the chances are that you’ve made progress.  And that’s worth celebrating (just a little bit 🙂 ).  As Dan Sullivan said, “When you measure backward, you increase your confidence, energy, and satisfaction”. 
  4. Get Rid of Ideals
    Ideals are visions of future success that are unattainable.  Sometimes they are ideals that you have imposed upon yourself.  Sometimes they are ideals that society, your community, your culture or your family have imposed upon you. Get rid of them!  Dan Sullivan nails it when he talks about ideals being like the horizon.  “You can see the horizon—you can drive toward it, and it will point you in the right direction. But nobody ever arrives at the horizon. Even if you were to arrive at the exact point you were envisioning on the horizon, you’d never know because it would feel just like where you were before.” 
  5. Measure Small and Often
    I’ve found one of the best ways to deal with the gap mentality in addition to the above is to measure small and measure often. What does this mean? Have metrics of success you track?  Look to make small progress on those regularly (maybe even daily).  Ever heard of 1% Every Day? Great example of living this idea. And here’s a great video on the Kaizen way.

I’ve been living in the gap my entire adult life.  I’m just now starting to come to terms with that and working towards living more meaningfully between where I am and where I want to be. Hope you will too.  

PS: Want to dive deeper? Listen to my partner Gene Crawford and I as we dive deeper into this topic on Communal, The SOCO Community Podcast here.   


  1. Best Goal Measurement – https://resources.strategiccoach.com/the-multiplier-mindset-blog/the-best-goal-measurement-strategy-for-entrepreneurs 
  2. Dan Sullivan – https://www.strategiccoach.com/ 
  3. Gap and The Gain Book – https://gapandgainbook.com/ 
  4. The Art of Manliness: Get 1% Better Every Day – https://www.artofmanliness.com/character/behavior/get-1-better-every-day-the-kaizen-way-to-self-improvement/

By Greg Hilton

Passionate about building innovative, entrepreneurial and dynamic companies and communities. I like big ideas, going against the grain, and working with incredible people. Stuff I’m a part of: Period ThreeSOCO Coworking Space, Rolling Rock Investments, 1 Million Cups Columbia SC.

Greg Hilton is an active entrepreneur and has launched and worked with over 100 early stage ventures. He’s the Cofounder and Managing Partner for SOCO, the region’s first coworking community and is Chief Opportunity Wrangler at Period Three an industry leading web design shop.

Knowledge Bomb: Failure

The fear of failure takes many shapes in business owners, freelancers, and creatives. 

For some, it looks like a handful of opportunities passed by. For others, it looks like endless tweaking and refining – never sharing – because, what will people say? 

Working from fear is a dangerous game that handicaps our greatest skills and talents. It’s also damn hard to conquer on your own. 

Because this is such a shared experience among SOCO members – and because many members have hard-won lessons from fighting this for years – we gathered folks together in August to chat through ways to put fear back in its place. 

Everyone falls short 

We kicked off the session by leveling the playing field. Folks were honest and we learned that, from lost business partners to pissed clients, everyone has had notable failures. 

Good habits make failures feel epic

As we were talking through our recent mistakes, one member pointed out that the ups and downs people shared were normal. 

Why, then, did they stick with each member as mega-failures? 

Turns out, our desire to do things well intensifies how we perceive failure. We know what extraordinary looks like, so even ordinary or okay smacks of failure. 

We don’t like it, but failure is an efficient teacher

There’s a lot to learn from our mistakes. Especially if we are willing to hear them out. 

Members have learned, among other things:

  • To work for themselves
  • How to schedule more effectively 
  • How to own mistakes and make every effort to rectify them
  • Double-check inputs on the command line

We’ve also received some pretty big benefits at the hand of failure:

Moving from fear to freedom

Despite the many, many things we can learn from failing, we still fear doing so. When we fixate on failure, members say we suffer handicaps like:

  • Holding back on new projects, based on past reviews
  • Stagnation and immobility
  • No room for growth
  • Missing out on new experiences, places, and people

There’s another option, though. Instead of marinating in fear of failure, we can boldly approach our mistakes, learn from them, and move on wiser.

Here’s how members do this:

Take one big step this month 

Before we closed out the session, we asked members what one thing they would do if they weren’t afraid. The answers were inspiring. Members said they’d do things like publish a book, travel to cool locations, and change jobs. 

What about you? What one specific thing would you do if you weren’t afraid of failing? 

Don’t go at it alone

Each month, we host a group chat in Slack about a pressing topic in on our community. These chats are called Slack Sessions and they’re open to all paying members. 

Already a member? Join the #Slack_Sessions channel to stay up to date on upcoming chats.

Not yet a member? Schedule a free tour to check out our spaces. We’d love to show you around and introduce you to a few of SOCO’s rockstars.