Upper Limit Problem? 11 Warning Signs To Watch

Upper Limit: 11 Warning Signs Your Business Has OneAre you familiar with the upper limit problem? It’s a term coined by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks in their book, The Big Leap. It’s a delightfully destructive form of self-sabotage that kicks in riiiiiight around when things are getting good.

Here’s how Hendricks puts it:

“The ULP is the human tendency to put the brakes on our positive energy when we’ve exceeded our unconscious thermostat setting for how good we can feel, how successful we can be, and how much love we can feel.”

Think maybe, possibly, perhaps that might be you? Here are 11 warning signs to look for.

1. You’ve got an income cap that you can’t seem to break.

New businesses – ones that haven’t attained traction yet – should experience what I call relatively explosive growth. $7,000 the first year, $29.000 the second year, $64,000 the third year – you’re not a millionaire yet, but they’re huge year-on-year gains. Existing businesses grow a little more calmly, but they should still show significant annual increases.

If you can’t seem to break a certain number (and especially if that number is suspiciously close to your old day-job salary), you’ve got an upper limit problem.

2. You’ve got a launch cap you can’t get past.

Now what about launches? You do a product launch and it makes what it makes. Maybe it’s even really good! Then you do the next launch… and it does about the same. And again. And again. Your list grows, you make the same. Your list shrinks, you make the same. You marry Prince Harry, you make the same.

If you can’t seem to get past a certain dollar value on a launch, there’s a number you’re not letting yourself go over.

3. You can’t get past a certain number of buyers.

This one was a problem for me for a long time. For years, I couldn’t break 520 buyers for a new product or class. Consistently, I’d have 498, 512, 519 – I think I had 511 twice in a row. Bizarre, right?

Once I realized it was an upper limit problem – and not zeitgeist or competition or the Moon in Virgo – I was able to break through it and sold 1300. (Awareness does tend to be curative on this issue, thankfully, otherwise I might still be hovering there.)

4. You pick fights about nothing when things are going well.

So, you just signed a new client. You just finished your webinar series. You just had your best launch yet. Congratulations! What happens next? Something gets you really, really, REALLY mad. If you have a significant other, they’re probably the one in the line of fire. Otherwise, siblings, parents, colleagues – even the government might be the one taking the heat.

If you’re far madder than you would otherwise be, and that feeling takes place juuuuust after something good happened? Probably not a coincidence.

5. You never invest in hard assets.

You might buy classes, or training, or membership groups, or masterminds, or retreats – and those figures might add up to a lot. But buy a decent video camera? That’s for “when you have money”. A professional logo? “Maybe next year, when money’s a little more stable.” Get a professional streaming plugin for all of $27? That’s for “after the launch”. $2,000 on a seminar is fine. $2,000 on a website is for “later”.

If you don’t have a problem spending to learn, but you refuse spending to earn, your unconscious is probably keeping you in perpetual student status. You’re not letting yourself graduate from your mental apprentice phase and strike out on your own as a pro. That’s upper limit.

6. You abandon money-making projects right after the idea generation stage.

OK. You’ve got a tiny, fledgling embryo of an idea. It’s going to be a big one. It’s going to be REALLY good for you, and your customers, and your brand. It’s awesome. You flesh it out. You make notes. You make a project plan. You figure out where it’s going to go in the marketing calendar. Phew.

Now you never look at it ever again. Repeat with something new next month. If you’re abandoning ideas before they can become projects, it’s likely you’re subconsciously leaving them in the idea phase so they don’t come to fruition.

7. You leave projects 70-90% done.

Similar to the last problem, where you abandon projects at the idea phase, in this example you’re leaving things when they’re almost fully grown. Your book is almost done, your seminar is almost finished, your new coaching package is thiiiiiis close to live. And yet…

If this is you, you’re leaving projects in the final phases so they never come into being. Upper limit, baby.

8. You get sick right after a success, or at the very last moment.

Sometimes it’s not your mind that rebels – it’s your body. Something goes wrong, and it just so happens to be the kind of something that stops you in your tracks. Migraines, laryngitis, stomach flu – you’re hitting your internal thermostat and there are no ends to which your body will not go to stop you from exceeding it.

As Hendricks puts it, “The illness or accident is your unconscious mind’s clunky way of doing you a favor… It’s in these moments that the unconscious mind goes to work on a solution. The solutions it comes up with are often inelegant and primitive, but they are direct and effective (and usually involve pain of some kind).”

But consider the significance of the illnesses and injuries we get – migraines stop us from thinking, laryngitis stops us from speaking, and stomach flu stops us from standing up. Notice how nobody ever hurts the wrist on their non-dominant hand. Where would be the fun in that? That wouldn’t wreck anything at all!

9. You walk away from deals.

You get a new potential client, or offer, or partnership deal. It’s just what you’ve always wanted. It’s more money than you thought you could get, and the terms are favorable. And for some reason or another, you walk away. Sometimes you walk away because you didn’t like the feeling you got. Sometimes something suddenly pressing comes to your attention. Sometimes you just procrastinate and by then, whoopsy daisy! It’s too late to follow up!

The details may change between this deal and that deal, but if you find yourself consistently abandoning potentially lucrative situations, it’s probably your thermostat kicking in.

10. There’s money in your inbox.

That contract you haven’t sent over, that invoice you haven’t finished yet, that inquiry you haven’t followed up with? It’s funny how the number one problem we complain about is “not enough money” and yet, we don’t claim the money that’s sitting right there in our inbox.

Often this issue gets miscategorised as “procrastination” or “disorganization”, but that’s not appropriate labeling here. We don’t procrastinate good things, we procrastinate bad things. We don’t procrastinate shoe shopping or sex – we procrastinate calling the dentist or cleaning the toilet.

So… why are we treating invoices like we treat going to the dentist when we should be treating them like shoe shopping? Shouldn’t money be a good thing? That’s upper limit for you.

11. Other people’s problems throw you off your plans.

When you’re not hitting your upper limit, nothing in the world can throw you off your game. Your mother calls with a drama, your kid shoots an eye out, your cat can spontaneously birth a live dolphin and you’re still on task. But close to the limit? A neighbor’s hangnail can unbalance your whole day.

The most organized and productive person in the world will throw it all away when they’re hitting their upper limit. If things that don’t phase you are suddenly phasing you, you’re probably hitting your limit.

So what do you do about your upper limit problems?

Two words: benign vigilance.

In his book, Hendricks refers to benign vigilance as “paying keen but relaxed attention”.

It’s been said many times that upper limit problems are solved by remaining aware of them, and I agree with that, but I’d add one thing.

You might want to start looking for specific patterns. Which things keep coming up for you? Are you always getting sick? Getting sidetracked? Avoiding “big kid” expenditures? Those are the ones to be especially vigilant with.

Upper limit problems can be cured, and it all starts with awareness.

4 Ways To Write Blog Posts WITHOUT Giving Away The Farm

4 Ways to Write Blog Posts WITHOUT Giving Away The FarmA big concern for a lot of bloggers is “giving away the farm”.

It’s an understandable concern.

All of the content marketing rules say we have to blog our very best stuff, but isn’t that supposed to be what goes in our products? Or our coaching? Or our services?

While this paradox can cause feelings of confusion and overwhelm (not to mention hangovers!) it’s most damaging consequence is paralysis. We don’t know what to do, so we do nothing, with predictable results.

Today, I’ll give you four options – how to create targeted, compelling content without hurting your bottom line. In fact, if you follow this content strategy, you’ll almost definitely make more sales, not fewer.

Here are the four strategies – mix and match for best results.

Strategy one: Go really granular.

In journalism, this is called “thin-slicing”. Instead of covering something big and broad, cover a thin slice of it – something narrow and deep.

A good example of this would be a Why Things Work kind of post. If you’re in the health industry, there’s really only so many ways you can dress up, “For God’s sake, drink more water!” But, you could write about 5 Ways Water Speeds Up Your Metabolism.

If you go deep about it, you don’t dumb yourself down, and you throw big words like “thermogenesis” around, you do yourself a lot of favors. You highlight your expertise, you teach people some things they didn’t know, and you become a lot more trustworthy when it comes time to buy something.

How this gets you more buyers:

First, five posts like this and you look like you know pretty much everything. “Knowing all the things” is GREAT for conversion.

Second, have you ever thought to yourself, “Now that I know how water affects metabolism, I guess I don’t need that recipe book”? No? Exactly.

Option two: Discuss a weird case.

This one is pretty straightforward – imagine someone who would have difficulty following typical advice and write about what they should do instead.

We ran an email series a few years ago talking about certain situations that shouldn’t use SEO (search engine optimization) at all. They were the “weird case”. Luckily, everybody’s a weird case, so there are enough weird cases that you can write on them forever.

How this gets you more buyers:

We see you solve this weird problem, and then that weird problem, and then that other weird problem. Via the magic of extrapolation, we soon come to the conclusion that you can solve OUR weird problems. Then we buy your stuff, and you get to buy new shoes.

It also reinforces that your paid products (or coaching, or services, or signature programs) are not going to be full of fluffy BS. If your blog talks about the real issues, presumably your paid offerings will, too. End result? New shoes.

Option three: Give away the WHAT, sell the HOW.

Let’s say you’re in marketing, and you have a class that you sell about easy content upgrades. You think, “I have to blog about content upgrades or nobody will know I’m awesome!” Plus, you want a piece of content that you can use to link to the product. What’s the strategy here?

In your free content, tell them WHAT to do. 15 Content Upgrades You Can Make in an Hour or Less. Or The Highest Conversion Place To Put Your Content Upgrade Link. Or Doing Content Upgrades? I Compared 3 Top Lead Gen Options So You Don’t Have To.

Then, in your paid content, tell them HOW to do it. How to write the upgrade. How to craft the offer. How to upload it. How to design it. How to deliver it. How to upsell afterwards. How to retain the subscriber after they get the free goodie.

Give the WHAT. Sell the HOW.

How this gets you more buyers:

First, it focuses attention on a problem you solve. The reader says, “Crap, content upgrades. I really meant to be doing that by now.” Now they are thinking about content upgrades, not how to look thinner in their selfies.

Second, it offers exposure to your paid offering. If I have to see it 13 times before I buy it, I may as well start seeing it today. Write a “what” post, link to the product twice in the blog post and I’ll be reminded that it exists. I leave your sales page up in my browser, obsess for a few days, and come back and buy your video course.

(You can learn how to link to products in a blog post without looking like a doofus here.)

Option four: Give away a small portion of the farm.

Also known as an excerpt or free sample, you can just throw your hands up and actually give some of the farm away. This is very simple.

Take a piece of a paid product. Put it in a blog post. At the end of that blog post, say “Excerpted from How To Sleep With All The Women You Ever Meet, Forever! Click the link to find out more and buy” or something. Link the name of the product to the sales page, and bam! You’re done.

How this gets you more buyers:

If there’s a better way to sell ebooks or training products than an excerpt, I don’t know what it is. An excerpt does three things: One, it provides exposure. Two, it provides proof the product doesn’t suck. Three, it creates an open loop of curiosity – they’ve started reading, now they want more.

Good content doesn’t have to give away the farm.

Now you’ve got four ways to create targeted, engaging content that doesn’t threaten your sales – it skyrockets them.

And remember – for best results, mix and match strategies. Every little bit counts, baby.

7 Drunken, Dire Warnings for Karaoke That Also Apply To Webinars, Workshops, and Keynote Speeches

Karaoke tips for webinars, workshops and keynote speechesRaise your hand if you’ve ever been to karaoke.

Now raise your hand if you’ve ever cringed at karaoke.

Finally, raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted to charge the stage and physically shake the performer, screaming, “For the love of God, it doesn’t have to be this ****ing painful!”

(Perhaps the last one is just me.)

I was recently at karaoke with someone who has never been before. I was doing my best impression of Tiger Woods’ father – drunkenly running my mouth off with instructions, best practices, and dire warnings.

For some reason, instead of rolling his eyes and storming off, he said, “You know, those sound like good webinar tips.”

Indeed they do.

Therefore, I give you The 7 Drunken, Dire Warnings.

1. Fast pace. Always. No matter what.

If you remember nothing else, remember this. People will take a terrible Stacy’s Mom over a beautiful Wind Beneath My Wings any day.

When giving your speech or your webinar, ideally you will spend an appropriate, balanced amount of time, explaining each point just enough, but not too much. Since that may be impossible, err on the side of covering points quickly rather than comprehensively. It’s better for them to be confused rather than bored. They can always ask you to clarify later.

2. Give them what they always want (but never get.)

The best karaoke song is something everybody loves but never gets.

If you do not intuitively know what people want to hear – and you probably don’t – there is an easy solution. Watch other performers, over time, and observe what gets the best reactions. Then try to find patterns. 80s songs, say. Or one-hit wonders. Or peppy choruses. Make that your checklist, and you will be the most popular singer of the night.

The best speech topic is something everybody wants but never gets. You can arrive at the answer for this using the same means. Watch other performers over time, observe what gets the best reactions, and find patterns. Easy worksheets, say. Or hilarious self-deprecation. Or unexpectedly funny slides.

See? Same!

3. Nobody gives a **** about that weird crap you like.

Karaoke is a performance, and performances are about the audience. In particular, an audience full of strangers who wouldn’t know you if they woke up in bed beside you. They do not find your quirks hilarious.

I don’t care if Shania Twain’s God Bless The Child is your favorite song in the whole, wide world. Stick with Any Man Of Mine.

Ditto webinars. Talk about normal stuff that normal people want to hear, and ditch the inside jokes, peccadilloes, and crying.

4. Beginnings and endings are the most important parts.

In the first few seconds of a karaoke song, the average audience member is thinking one of two thoughts. One, they’re considering the pros and cons of hitting on the girl at the next table. Two, they’re wondering if they’ve had too much wine.

Same thing with a lot of keynote speeches.

The end can be similar. Any droning on and they’re back to thinking about whether Next Table Girl might be into the weird stuff.

You have a limited amount of time to get and keep attention. Get the action started right away, and end on a bang so nobody’s asking if this will ever end.

5. Know your lyrics. Even the boring bits.

You know that song you really like? The one you always belt out in the car? The one you know you’re totally awesome at?

If you’re like 104% of the general population, when you get up to sing that song at karaoke, you will quickly and coldly realize that you only knew the chorus.

Same with ad-libbing webinars.

Yes, you think you have a lot to say on the whole topic. It’s possible you only have a soundbite, and in webinars, an enthusiastic “NA NA NA NA HEY HEY” will not save you.

If there is ANY chance… AT ALL… that you will lose even a tiny bit of the plot, write down all the words in advance. Yes, that’s a lot of work. That’s because being awesome is sometimes a lot of work. But it’s worth it!

6. Never cut corners on your dry run. Never, ever, ever.

Got all the lyrics? Think you’re good? STOP RIGHT THERE.

There is a difference between reading and vocalizing. Memorizing the lyrics of the Bloodhound Gang’s The Bad Touch is very different from being able to sing them. (Ask me how I know this.)

In karaoke, make sure you can sing all the words. In a webinar or speech, make sure you can say all the words.

Yes, read with your eyes. Also read with your mouth. What looks poetic on your screen can be surprisingly difficult to vocalize.

7. You live and die on energy and enthusiasm.

If you have energy and enthusiasm, nothing else matters. If you don’t, ditto.

You cannot simply feel energetic and enthusiastic. Your energy and enthusiasm must show on your face and in your voice. If my dog would not be slightly unnerved by your demeanor, you need to up your affect.

Practice in front of a mirror, drag your long-suffering best friend into a video chat room, do whatever you need to do – but look alive, and they’ll forgive you pretty much anything.

Yes, even Wind Beneath My Wings.

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