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Your Secret Weapon against "I'll never be as good as that"
👉 a simple tool that actually works
Welcome to a late evening edition of Unsnooze Your Inbox where I’m going to share a powerful tool that will help you overcome feelings of inadequacy and “I’ll never be as good as that”.
Admission: if there’s one thing that stops me from taking action more than anything else it’s looking at how well someone else does something and thinking “Damn…I’ll never be as good as that”.
I’ve had a number of projects - including Unsnooze Your Inbox - where I’ve considered giving up before I even started because my initial research digs up people doing something similar who I think are doing a great job.
“Why bother?” I tell myself. “I’ll never be as good as that”.
But there’s something you can do that will cut those feelings dead and restore your hope.
It’s not a fancy psychological tool or deep introspective exercise.
It’s a website: archive.org.
Archive.org shows you what websites used to look like.
It doesn’t index everything of course. But it has a lot of sites in there. You can check out what Amazon looked like in 2001 (awful) or what the first edition of your favourite newsletter focused on.
It’s also handy for practical things like recovering what your home page used to say when you accidentally delete it with no backups. Ahem.
But more importantly, it tells you what other people’s websites used to look like. And that can be a great confidence booster.
I mentioned James Clear’s newsletter last time and reading one of his articles a while back triggered those “I’ll never be…” feelings for me.
His Why Facts Don't Change Minds was exactly the kind of clear, helpful, positive article I wish I’d written on the topic.
“No wonder he’s a NYT bestselling author with millions of newsletter subscribers” I thought. “I’ll never be able to do that”.
Fortunately, two things stopped me wallowing in self-pity for very long.
The first was that I actually knew James “back in the day”.
Not closely. But we did a webinar together over a decade ago and chatted on the phone for quite a while (hot news: he’s a nice guy). So I knew he had a life before Atomic Habits.
The other weapon I had was archive.org.
I looked up previous incarnations of his website to see how it had evolved over time.
Back in 2010 it started out as a personal blog with stories about his love of his local (American) football team and his vision for the future of healthcare (if I remember rightly he was still a medical student when we spoke, paying his college fees through his side-hustle).
Then he started blogging about photography and online business. Then app development. Then travel.
It was only a few years later that he started to include information about habits as part of a focus on “superhuman health”.
And it was only in 2015 that habits became the main focus of his site.
If you do what I did and compare your writing against what James does today it's very easy to get disheartened and think your own stuff isn't good enough.
But if you compare your writing to his material from 2012 or 2015 or 2017 it probably compares pretty well.
And James' writing in 2012, 2015 and 2017 was easily good enough to build him a very successful business.
As long as we're writing (or making videos or podcasts) about topics our clients find important and tricky, there'll always be enough people who find our material useful.
You don’t have to be Peter Drucker or Jim Collins or Seth Godin or James Clear to have something valuable to say.
If you're good enough to help clients solve their problems, you're good enough to write articles or make videos or podcasts they'll be interested in tuning in to.
Over time, your writing abilities will improve. You'll get better on video. Your podcasts will be less clunky.
If I look back at my early articles and videos I find them cringe-worthy today.
But back then they still found an audience. They were good enough that they helped people. And so people followed me, and some signed up to be clients.
No doubt when I look back in a decade, my emails of today will induce much cringing too.
Don't compare yourself to the finished article version of someone else. Just focus on helping clients and sharing your knowledge and ideas the best you can today.
It'll be enough.
And it will get better too.
And maybe tomorrow someone will be checking your website out on archive.org.