The “Forrest Gump” Hack

This week we’ve been talking about simple hacks or tricks to fast-track your way into a successful freelance business.

Especially when you’re trying to make the leap from a full-time job to freelancing.

If you missed the first two hacks, make sure to check out Monday’s message and yesterday’s tip.

Today’s hack is very simple. But it’s had a profound impact on my business.

I call it the “Forrest Gump” technique.

We “Know” Too Much!

Before I describe it, let me first give you some context.

Most of us tend to over-analyze our goals and challenges. We over-think things. As a result, we tell ourselves that prospecting is hard. Or, that we’ll never get great clients. Or, that we don’t have what it takes to write winning copy.

After all, look at the folks who are doing well. They’re so smart, gifted, creative and brave! They have the right background and experience, right?

Wrong! None of that is true.

When I hear these excuses from fellow freelancers, I’m reminded of the movie Forrest Gump. In that movie, Tom Hanks plays Forrest Gump, a simple man with a low IQ.

Despite his supposedly low level of intelligence, Forrest goes on to win war medals, start a table-tennis craze, create a famous shrimp fishing fleet, jog cross-country (four times), write the lyrics to a hit song and meet a number of U.S. presidents.

Far more than most of us ever accomplish in life.

Trouble is, Forrest is too “stupid” to realize the significance of his actions and accomplishments.

And therein lies the rub.

Ignorance Is Bliss

You see, being “ignorant” about the freelance writing business saved me. I knew just enough to go out there and try to make it happen.

I didn’t have time to listen to the naysayers. I wasn’t on Facebook, LinkedIn and forums all day long soaking up the negativity and fear. (Heck, there was no Facebook yet!)

I had a demanding day job. A young child. A family to support. A business to build.

So, I just went for it!

Little did I know at the time that it was supposed to be “hard.”

Don’t get me wrong, it was challenging. I worked long hours. But I didn’t succumb to the fear and anxiety that plagues so many new and aspiring freelancers. Especially those who “know” too much.

Not because I was so smart. (I’m really not — more about that on Friday.) But because I was so “dumb.”

So, here’s your action item for today: Ignore the doomsayers!

Be on the lookout for negative, fearful or anxious discussions. And when you sense any negativity in an article, a forum post, a conversation with a fellow freelancer … walk away from it.

Turn it off. And remind yourself that this kind of “knowledge” is toxic.

Can you think of an example from your business or personal life where being “ignorant” actually helped you? Let me know in the comments area. I’d love to hear it!

Tomorrow I’m going to share yet another simple but incredibly powerful hack. In fact, it’s something that every successful freelancer I know has used. Yet few of them ever talk about it.

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Published: June 18, 2014

5 Responses to “The “Forrest Gump” Hack”

  1. Thanks for the tips, Ed, and for those yet to come.

    I, too, have bouts with "I know too much or at least I think I do" syndrome. It isn't easy to just ignore the naysayers, but there will always be someone to say how impossible it is. No matter what the "it" is!

    As for yesterday's "Use your contacts" article... ABSOLUTELY! I started with my prior professional contacts, and then used THEIR connections and introductions. I was talking to prospects in pretty short order. I still have to convince them that I am the right one for the job, but at least I was able to make contact fairly quickly. Even better, I still have plenty contacts to go. Great tip!

    - Les

    Les Worley

  2. I think much of the problem lies with a lack of self-confidence. Take cold calling, for example. Many people fear doing it. But the act of cold calling is not that difficult. I once had a job where employees were expected to make 100 calls per day. Moreover, the work area was an open table (no cubicle walls to hide behind) with six or seven colleagues at your table who would listen in to your own conversation with one ear. It wasn't an easy work environment, but I learned a lot from the job and feel confident in my ability to pitch an offer to a total stranger. I'm not worried about any negativity others may express about cold calling, because I know I can do it and do it well.


  3. It is amazing to read how confidence is such an important factor in ones success as a freeelance copywriter. I am just starting out this profession and I do feel that I am empowered with all the tools necessary to be successful and would not have the time to listen to the naysayers. I am very happy and will look forward to reading more about your inspirations and tips.


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