Those darned epiphanies…

I read a really interesting blog post this week, by Peter Shallard, “The Shrink of Entrepreneurs”.  This guy has some really neat stuff on starting a business and the psychology of those who try.  This week’s post was about why epiphanies will destroy your business.  (Not starting a business?  Don’t worry, this article will apply to you, too.)


Peter Shallard opens by presenting the familiar picture of one who is waiting for the next big realization:

“You’re just one big aha moment away from figuring it out. Right?

Isn’t everyone.

They spend their lives having one epiphany after another, always telling themselves that they’ve finally figured out what’s holding them back. An epiphany strikes and they think they’re finally going to be productive and creative.

At last, they’re going to turn their life and business around!

Except they don’t.”

Why?  Because epiphanies don’t work, according to Shallard.  Firstly, they tend to happen quickly – not a good sign.  Most entrepreneurs, he says, have reached success through a slower process.

And here’s an idea I especially like:  Shallard points out that what happens during an epiphany is that we tell ourselves a myth; we trick ourselves into believing something.  “A big epiphany gives you cause to believe you’ve broken through and that things are about to change. You pat yourself on the back and promptly do nothing.”

I can personally attest this.  I’ll have some big realization that life should be lived a certain way, or that money doesn’t matter, or one of those other bright ideas that most people will stumble upon at some point in their life, before ultimately rejecting it.  Or, to relate it to business and entrepreneurship: I have had a few ideas in recent years for genius business plans and super lucrative start-ups that I might buy a domain name for, and then proceed to leave untouched until the domain expires.

So I guess Shallard is right – when you have some big epiphany or the universe magically sends you an ingenious idea – its good to be aware that it might not work out.  Similarly, my business ideas and life philosophies that have actually developed a bit more were the ones that came not by epiphany but by a more careful thought process.

Shallard continues his post to relate epiphany-tripped entrepreneurs to schizophrenics: its when they appear most out of it that they actually experience the greatest sensation of clarity.  And that’s pretty much how my epiphanies go:  I may think that is a great idea, but I am in actuality going through a moment of insanity mistaken.

Shallard concludes his argument by foreseeing the negative outcome of having (and taking seriously) an epiphany, which is that we’ll stop growing.  I’ve got it all figured out now, so why waste time thinking?  I know how the world works, so I’ll stop listening to others.  I have a new and better business idea, so I should scrap my other projects for this one.

Check out his post to learn which positive qualities to look for in the opposite of an epiphany.  And tell me what you think of his post!

How has your luck been with epiphanies? 


Don’t Settle for the Guru Effect / Motivation Tips from Peter Shallard

Came across a new blog today.  Peter Shallard writes some very interesting posts.

Take for example this article on what Peter calls The Guru Effect.

I love the line “The tiny percentage of ultra achievers – the Oprahs, Bransons, Hsieh and Jobs of the world don’t publish how-to guides. They publish autobiographies.”

I myself am no overachiever and have no credibility.  Yet.  But I do plan to achieve both personal and business success.  And then I plan to write about it; make videos about it; make money from it because I’ve already made money from it.

But this post made me question why that’s my plan.  It seems like easy money.  And it could get my name out, which in turn would drive even more business to my hypothetically-already-successful company.  Its a win-win.  But then what?  Then I can relax knowing that I’ve built a little empire for myself that at this point will just bring in more and more cash passively?  At this point I can just stop working?  Stop creating?  Stop thinking?

No.  I thought that my business plans (vague as they may be) were ambitious and would bring me great things.  I still think they can bring me a bunch of money, sure.  But after reading this article, I don’t know if I consider cash to be “great things”.  As Peter says in the post, “When you take the easy, comfortable road and rest on your laurels, everyone loses.”  You lose because you’re no longer challenging yourself.  The world loses because it misses out on all the greatness you could have offered it.


I should probably try this.  (How to force yourself to succeed without using willpower)

I most definitely ask myself all the ways I can fail or all the ways the task at hand will be no fun.  And it totally prevents me from doing the task.  Ridiculous.  I need to take control of my thoughts and stop sabotaging myself!  It’s actually really good timing that I read this today, as I’m starting a new workout regimen today that I plan to maintain for 30 days.  I’ll try reshaping my thoughts and see if it helps motivate me. 🙂