Inspiration Never Comes When Your Fists Are Clenched

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A friend of mine was waiting to turn left at an intersection. Traffic coming the other way was completely stopped for a light. And even though oncoming cars had absolutely nothing to gain by driving 10 feet further into the intersection, one of the drivers refused to stop and let him turn.

My friend flashed his lights and motioned for the guy to stop.

Instead, the guy blocked his turn and flipped him the bird.

My friend’s wife opened her door, stepped out of the car, walked across the intersection to the driver, and kindly asked him to back up so they could turn left.

The man grimaced and reluctantly threw the car in reverse.

That’s what it took to get the guy to do the polite thing. (“That’s the power of a woman,” my friend said with a smile.)

When you believe you must compete for every square foot of pavement – even at the expense of a polite courtesy that costs you nothing – isn’t that Exhibit “A” of scarcity mentality?

Not enough pavement on the street.

Not enough air, not enough water.

Not enough beer in the cooler.

Too many people, too many headaches.

Not enough opportunities.

Not enough money, not enough ideas.

You have to fight for everything you ever get.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I work myself into a desperation mentality, my field of vision narrows and I can’t see anything but problems.

Inspiration never seems to show up when I’m thinking that way.

A couple of months ago, someone pointed out to me that there’s a huge difference between working hard and striving. You can strive and not even be working while you stress out. Or you can work hard and not strive, and instead experience the rhythm and flow.

"So many options for growing my business, but what should I do NOW?" Tell me your most pressing business problems and I'll show you your BEST next step.

In Martial Arts they talk about relaxing and holding yourself in a state of readiness. Flowing like water. You can only do that when you believe there’s really going to be enough for you.

Last month at our Roundtable meeting, I suggested an affirmation to one of the members:

“I’m not a guy who constantly strives to force things to work. I’m a wise, agile player who harnesses existing forces to get things done.”

I believe there’s always a path you can carve that sidesteps the desperation mentality. You just need to slow down long enough to seek it out.

Rewind to the Dot Com Crash and consider where the world was at: An enormous amount of money had been poured into the Internet and it all evaporated in the space of a year.

A lot of folks proclaimed that the party was over.

But the smart ones realized that a ton of assets had been built – on somebody else’s dime – and if they kept a level head during the chaos and confusion, real businesses could finally be built.

(One of my smartest friends actually gave up on building real businesses during the Dot Com boom, because there was so much dumb money being thrown at even dumber ideas.)

The downturn became the new season of the smart ideas.

My friend, I am privy to so many things behind the scenes, the de-construction and re-construction of so many enterprises, that I can absolutely assure you, THIS is the age of the smart entrepreneur.

I invite you to join the ranks of the relaxed and the ready.

Perry Marshall

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About the Author

Perry Marshall has launched two revolutions in sales and marketing. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, he pioneered best practices and wrote the world's best selling book on Google advertising. And he's driven the 80/20 Principle deeper than any other author, creating a new movement in business.

He is referenced across the Internet and by Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, INC and Forbes Magazine.

38 Comments on “Inspiration Never Comes When Your Fists Are Clenched”

  1. “This is the age of the smart entrepreneur.”

    I totally agree.

    The Industrial Revolution is over. We are now in the Information Age, brought on by the Internets.

  2. Glad the story had a happy ending. IMHO, unless your friend and his wife had a medical emergency and needed to get through the intersection ASAP, given the other driver’s hostile gesture of “flipping the bird,” and the prevalence of “road rage,” I would humbly and respectfully say that exiting the host vehicle and fueling a potentially violent situation was a foolish move. No way I’d let my wife do that.

    Your interpretation of the “bird flipper” as coming from a scarcity mentality is interesting. Problem is, we don’t know whether or not he is also psychotic. I type this after last night’s tragedy in Colorado at the movie multiplex. I think a prudent “cost/benefit-risk/reward” analysis would have dictated enjoying the scenery from the relative safety of the host vehicle, exhaling peacefully, and allowing the events of the moment to flow, like water, gently onward.

    Peace :-)


  3. Ha! I soooo would have gotten out of the car and done the same thing…and Brian would have sat behind me, shaking his head.

    Who is your friend? I’d like to meet her. :)


  4. I don’t have much to sell and I only have to sell it a few times, as I am a piano teacher with a mostly full studio. But I always read what you write. My field is dominated by a scarcity mentality: piano teachers complain about kids’ parents not overseeing practice (not enough help at home!), lesson times are too short (not enough time!), kids are too busy with other things (not enough practice!), they can’t charge what they are worth, (not enough money!) etc. etc. Many, many excuses why their job is so miserable and the results are unsatisfactory. For years I have tried to adopt the “enough” attitude: there is enough lesson time, the kids have enough attention, the parents do plenty, What Can I Do Right Now with what I have in front of me to move things along?? It makes for a happier life, happier students, better music-making, better student retention, more fun. Keep up the good work.
    Megan Hughes

  5. Great one, absolutely great one.
    If the world as a whole could understand and share in the concept of abundance, so much negative energy could dissipate.
    Great lesson to start the morning with!


  6. Just this week, I had a customer leave us some bad feedback online. He did so before contacting us to give us a chance to solve his ‘problem’. I see this knee jerk response from customers often. I invariably diffuse the situation when I contact the customer and start with, “I’m going to get this taken care of for you.” I gave them a full refund AND sent them some free product. They were pleasantly surprised by this, gladly removed the negative feedback and I’ll bet I have a customer for life! Had I approached this issue from a “scarcity mentality” and not gone above and beyond, the feedback would remain, they would tell their friends and family what a crappy company we were and the lost sales from the negative feedback (which took us down to 99% from 100% positive) would have cost us more than refund and free product it took to make them happy. Here’s to doing the right thing! You rock Perry.

  7. I have had plenty of opportunities in LA to deal with road rage and found at a certain point that it’s never worth the effort to stay upset at other drivers. I’ve even learned how to deal with people jumping out of their car when they are angry at me. You’d be surprised how quickly people change their attitude when you get out in response and say, “Ohmigod. I’d be so pissed off if I were you.” and smile. They instantly realize they are dealing with a situation they didn’t anticipate and they screw up their face and start listening. I think this is the same thing as you are talking about. In fact, I detailed some of my experiences on a couple pages of my book and I think you might really like, Perry, called “Tao of the Mind.” It’s available on Smashwords and the first two chapters are free. Perry, how would I go about getting a quotation from you on the book? It’s at

  8. This is an excellent post Perry – and I agree 100% with the “not enough” mentality and what that brings into your life. I love the idea of getting into the flow. I heard a very wise Christian woman say one time that to live without stress, we need to “move with God’s rhythm for our lives”. Enough said…

  9. My personal area is self healing and I can tell you as long as there is life plus the will to heal people can heal. I find the same is true for sales. Even in a contracting market you can sell you just adopt your approach to fit the market and go forward. It all gets back to working smarter not harder. Always study who is succeeding then adopt their ideas managing it to fit your situation. The biggest obstacle in both healing and selling is releasing old ideas so new ones can come into play then put them into action. Seeing your challenges as play or an adventure can take the labor out of the work.

  10. Love the martial arts ‘relaxed and ready’ metaphor.

    While I find a bit of pressure can be helpful sometimes – including self-imposed pressure – too much can make me short circuit.

    One of my favorite techniques for opening up inspiration: browsing photos and video clips relevant to the project at hand. Sometimes they may be images of the product; other times I just seek out images or video that conveys the feeling I want to express in the copy. It relaxes you – and also immerses you in world of the project at the same time, providing fodder for your writing and strategizing.

  11. I think that controlling your focus is the most important skill an entrepreneur can learn. You can focus on the negative side or the positive side of a situation. Your focus dictates your feelings and your feelings the creative state of mind.

    Great post Perry….

  12. Absolutely brilliant. Not only the content, which has the kind of wisdom you have accustomed us to, but the form: the storytelling skill you displayed to tease us into your blog is something I’m certain to try and emulate in my next newsletter… if you don’t mind this kind of practical praise.



  13. Perry,

    I’m sitting here in Costa Rica right now having fun and enjoying life. And it’s here that I’ve gained some of my best ideas and most inspiration.

    It’s hard to attract great ideas when you’re mind is like a Monday morning traffic jam.

    As you wisely say Perry, it’s so important to slow down and “make space” for inspiration to come to you.

    All the best Perry.


  14. Perry, so often you write exactly what I need to hear. I woke up this morning feeling desperate. How was I ever going to meet all my deadlines. The exact words flowing in and out of my head were: Not enough….not enough…..As I read your article, I regained control of my life. That’s why I stay a member of your Renaissance Club.

  15. Perry,

    I have the same problem, but in reverse. I have too much flowing towards me. Opportuniites in fields I never even thought about, opportunities in field I dreamed about….all too too much. My problem is “How do I choose where to put my focus?” “How do I know which one I should use as the basis to everything else?”

    Thanks For Another Brilliant Post,

    Quantella Owens
    Virtuality LLC

  16. Perry, you are so right on. I see so many of my onw clients stuck in this same paradigm of trying to find the one thing that will make them a success. The best ones relax and work, no matter how imperfect their results. Taking action with what they have now is what works for them.

    I’ve found that the less pressure you put on yourself the more you will accomplish. This is a great reminder of what is really important in our lives.

  17. Gracias por sus comentarios tan acertados y es una gran verdad no por estar mcuhas horas trabajando es señal de qeu lo puedes lograr hay que ser inteligente y eficaz

  18. Hi Perry,
    I was wondering about your affirmation. I have been taught that your sub conscious do not understand the word no. Is it something you have reflected on?

  19. Hi Perry,

    I’ve been following you for some time because you always make so much sense! I couldn’t agree more about the ridiculous waste of energy displayed by the perpetrator in the traffic scenario you explained here. It perfectly illustrates the lacking in abundance attitude that gets us nothing. I’m going to share your post on my FB.

    I also so agree that great ideas don’t have room to surface when your brain is clogged by the stress of what you “have to” or “should” do. Just be and relax and it will come! The challenge is to walk my talk when the overwhelm starts to rear it’s ugly head. Your story is a great visual reminder!

  20. All of us have faults which make it uncomfortable for
    others. What is your advice, mention the fault once
    then let go of it??? Or would you advise the stubborn way to hang in there and see if and when the suggestion is followed?????? this stubborn way always seems to result in loss of friendship. How would you handle such a problem????? John

  21. “What’s the old Army saying – “Hurry up and wait?” Often the best way is to sit back, observe, and let everyone else shake out the situation before you make your move.

  22. Hi Perry,
    I agree with every dot and comma! I drive at a leisurely 80kms (50mph) and have guys cut me up all the time, and then find that they are waiting at the next traffic signals. When you only work within 25kms from your home, 80kms an hour is more than speedy enough. Given half a chance I take my bicycle (I do live in Holland) – and I even have a trailer for all my gear :-) … not only that but I have had clients ask me to do work for them especially because I don’t come by car (remember that Amsterdam has the highest parking charges in the world, and Utrecht is not far behind!).

    Just take it easy, that’s my motto – but I have to say it is much easier in a more socialist-style* economy, especially if you don’t earn much (like me). It means you can relax because you don’t have to earn so much.

    Take care and thanks for all the inspiration! Gemma

    *Read: tightly regulated and with serious social benefits.

  23. Perry I love reading your blogs and putting into action what I see. I will not be in Austin but for sure will be there at one of your events or at your home soon enough.

    Thank you for the value and for everything you’ve taught me.

    God Bless.

  24. So true. Just watch the guy on the bottom in a mixed martial arts fight, and many times he’s winning just by relaxing and smartly planning his next move while the guy on top is wailing ineffective punches.

    I thought yoga was for wimps my whole life….and know I know different. Helps me in a big way. I go when my brain is telling me, no Neil, you need to stay on your desk and get that next e-book done or than new landing page….but when I go to yoga, my business just seems to get better and better.

    Good stuff Perry. See you in Austin.


  25. Perry,

    Will you be my mentor :-)

    There are not very many internet marketers (who are as visible as you are) who are so comfortable in their own skin, transparent, and who obviously enjoy giving to others.

    You are exhibit “A” of abundance mentality.

    Thanks again.

    Profitably Yours,
    Kevin Mask

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