Attention is something we're all fighting for. But what happens when you get it? It reminds me of a classic cartoon where a door-to-door salesman is looking confused in someone's living room. "I don't know", the caption says. "I never made it this far." You can get someone's attention, but then what?
For long-term success, there is actually something more valuable than attention. It is trust.
Seth Godin summed it up well in a recent United Nations speech:
Awareness doesn't always lead to trust. Trust is in short supply. Trust is even more scarce than attention.
And, believe it or not, is also tougher to get than attention. It requires three acts.
Serving others is actually a brave act - as we make ourselves vulnerable to someone saying "No". No, I don't want your product. No, what you're offering isn't for me. No, I'm not willing to invest in what you've got.
We overestimate how afraid we are of something failing. We underestimate how afraid we are of people saying we've wasted our time. But we haven't wasted our time - we just haven't created something worthwhile for that person.
Someone loves Kanye West just as much as someone else loves Taylor Swift. It doesn't mean one artist should sound like the other. It means doubling down on the people who love your work and staying in the game long enough to find them.
"We have to understand the interplay between intensity and consistency. You can't go to the gym for 9 hours and get into shape. It doesn't work. But if you work out every day for 20 minutes, you will absolutely get into shape. The problem is, I don't know when."
This applies to the inner journey as well as the outer one. How consistent were you with your service before you pivoted or, more dramatically, gave up? Conscious pivots can be smart, if not wonderful decisions. But letting something just run out of steam is a whole different ballgame.
As I talk about in Bring Your Worth, why would someone invest in you when they can't trust that you'll be trumpeting the same service tomorrow? Doing that email every day, sending that newsletter every week or showing up at the farmer's market every weekend builds more trust than even the best attention-grubbing scheme.
Don't make it about you
My Inc. colleague Justin Bariso talked about Jerry Seinfeld's secret (I recently shared my own Seinfeld wisdom, too). Here's what Seinfeld said:
If you're doing it for them, you'll be fine. If you're doing it for you, that could be problematic at a certain point--because they'll know it. They'll feel it. And they won't like it.
I agree: The people we serve are always wiser than we think and, best believe, they know when we don't have their best interests at heart.
Trust comes from deciding to show up. Trust comes from being consistent. And trust comes from focusing on serving, not being served.
These three elements create a power much greater than someone's attention.