You and I enjoy the benefits of a world that has embraced reality, and pursued it through science. This pursuit of reality has given us computers, cell (mobile) phones, medicines that work, painless dentistry, and countless other benefits.
Unfortunately, it seems that most people today could care less about reality. They’re deeply involved in the pursuit of things that have no objective reality. They’re interested only in things that can’t be shown to exist anywhere (except the human mind).
I think that’s a shame. In particular, I think a practical understanding of objective reality is vital to your success in business on the Internet.
Reality is measurable
Something can only be real, in an objective sense, if it’s specific and measurable. A thing that can’t be measured has no objective (i.e. independent of the human mind) reality.
Some people will object to this statement, and claim that we can’t be sure about the reality of anything. These people claim that objects might look real, but we can’t know they’re not some kind of elaborate illusion. Others will claim that a thing is real to them, even if it can’t be measured.
In my view, reality is as self-evident as an elephant sitting on you. If a thing (e.g. an elephant sitting on someone) can be measured (e.g. the amount by which that person is squashed), it doesn’t matter whether it’s an illusion or not. The pain will certainly seem real enough!
There may be things we can’t measure with existing technology, but that do have objective existence. The point is, we can’t demonstrate these things exist using the tools currently available to us. Here’s an example…
Plenty of people believe in God, but nobody can prove it actually exists. There is no way to measure God, so it’s not possible to demonstrate the existence of God to a skeptic.
I’m not saying that God doesn’t exist. I’m saying that God’s existence is not objective in the way yours is. Your existence can be verified with an appropriate form of measurement. If anyone claims that you don’t exist, you need only avoid bathing for the next 30 days. Then follow him or her around for awhile. Your objective existence will soon be undeniable, if not unbearable!
This is the essence of reality as I mean it in this article. I’m not trying to be controversial here, and only wish to explain what objective reality means, so we can move on and find out why it’s so crucial to your success.
Goals, success, and reality
The Online Marketing Blog is dedicated to the topic of your success in business on the Internet. A person is successful when he or she achieves a goal. If the goal has not yet been achieved, the goal setter may be on his/her way to success. But he/she is not yet successful.
A goal can only be achieved if it’s grounded in reality. That is, if the goal is specific and measurable. Here’s an example…
Jack is in business on the Internet. His goal is to make $9,000 per month by May 30, 2007.
This is a very specific goal. There are no shades of gray. If Jack isn’t earning $9,000/month by May 30, he has failed.
This goal is measurable, and so lends itself to the creation of a plan to achieve it. If you can take a goal, and work backwards to find the specific activities you need to do to achieve it, you’re operating in the realm of reality.
The plan is given by the goal
Jack wants to earn $9,000 per month. He needs to earn an average of $300/day to do this. As he earns $100/sale, he needs to make 3 sales/day to achieve his goal.
He expects to get one sale per 300 visitors to his website, so he needs 900 visitors per day to reach his goal. He expects to get one visitor per 100 ad displays, so he needs 90,000 ad displays per day to reach his goal.
NOTE: If Jack doesn’t know some of these figures, he can start by guessing. As the results start coming in, he can change the figures to match reality.
What if the plan isn’t working?
Jack has written his goal in such a way that it can be used to create a simple plan. He worked backwards from his goal to the specific thing he must do to achieve it (90,000 ad displays/day).
This is a specific action that, if taken, ought to deliver the outcome Jack is looking for. But it doesn’t always work out that way. Jack is reliant on those 90,000 ads delivering 900 visitors to his site. What if this doesn’t happen?
Jack is in a position to see whether he’s on track to achieve his goal after the first week of getting 90,000 ad displays/day. He can easily see if 90,000 ads/day has actually resulted in 900 visitors. If it doesn’t, he will have enough data to work out how many ads he really needs to get his 900 visitors.
Once he’s had sufficient visitors, he can see if he’s getting one sale per 300 visitors. If he’s not, he can use the figure he is getting, and increase or decrease as required.
The point is, he can monitor his progress along the way, and make adjustments using real data. Here’s an example to illustrate the point…
After 2 weeks Jack discovers that 90,000 ads/day are averaging 1,200 visitors. That’s the good news. He’s getting a better result than expected. Unfortunately, he’s only getting one sale per 600 visitors, so he’s averaging 2 sales per day and is not on target to reach his goal of $9,000/month.
Jack needs 3 sales per day, and with his current average, he’s going to need 1,800 visitors/day (3 sales x 600 visitors).
He’s getting one visitor per 75 ads (90,000 ÷ 1,200). To get 1,800 visitors per day, he’ll need 135,000 ad displays per day (75 x 1,800).
In other words, one way to make sure he reaches his goal is to increase the number of ad displays he’s getting. Notice how it’s possible to use his results to find out exactly what needs to be done to achieve his goal?
Any plan grounded in objective reality will lend itself to this kind of information. Because it’s measurable, Jack can instantly tell if he’s off-target. And he can use the data he has to find out what needs to be done to get back on-target.
Buying more advertising is not the only option available to Jack. He could also try to improve his sales conversion ratio. He’s currently getting one sale per 600 visitors. If he can find a way to improve this to one sale per 400 visitors, he’ll reach his goal with 1,200 visitors per day, and won’t need to spend more on advertising.
This approach is essential to the success of any business endeavor. Suppose Jack hadn’t been this specific, and instead had only a vague notion that he wants to get rich. Without an objective goal to shoot for, he can’t work back to find the specific task he needs to do to achieve his goal. He has no way to assess his progress, so he can’t tell if he’s succeeding or not.
The realm of thoughts and feelings
The term “thoughts and feelings” is a catch-all phrase that describes the collection of emotions running around in a person’s mind at any given time.
Our thoughts and feelings exist only in our head. They have no objective reality in and of themselves. For example, if Jack doesn’t achieve his goal, he’s likely to feel a little depressed. This is perfectly natural. An emotional low is a state of mind. It has no substance to it, and will not last longer than the next lot of a good news to come along.
NOTE: I’m not talking about clinical depression. I refer only the everyday highs and lows we all experience.
Our thoughts and feelings change from moment-to-moment, and are a very unreliable guide to what’s true about our self and our life.
In the above example, Jack felt a little depressed because he hadn’t reached his goal. Let’s imagine Jack then opened his mail and discovered that he’d just won $10 million in the state lottery. I doubt his “depression” would survive opening the envelope.
Every human being has thoughts and feelings. It doesn’t matter that we have our ups and downs. What matters is how we relate to them.
Most people relate to their thoughts and feelings as if they were objective reality. They act as if their thoughts and feelings exist outside of the mind that gave rise to them. But is this actually true? Do thoughts and feelings exist independently of a living human being?
I don’t think they do. A corpse shows no sign of having thoughts and feelings.
We can’t escape our feelings. We’re destined to experience them, each and every day of our lives. That doesn’t mean we need to be enslaved by them.
The triumph of reality over feelings
As soon as a person accepts that feelings exist only in the realm of subjective reality (i.e. in the mind), he or she gains power over them. A person who believes their thoughts and feelings are real in the objective sense, is limited in what they can achieve. Here’s why…
A person who feels shy, will believe he/she is actually shy
A person who feels sad, will believe he/she is a sad person
A person who experiences failure, may believe he/she is a failure (rather than simply having failed at some thing)
All of us experience these feelings at some point. And most of us have had experiences where we’ve felt one way, and acted in another. In other words, a person who feels shy is still able to take the actions of a person who isn’t.
I’m not saying it’s easy for a shy person to act as if they aren’t shy. I’m simply pointing out that it’s possible.
What’s interesting about this, is what it implies. Let’s say you see Jack acting in a confident manner. He approaches a woman, and with all the confidence in the world he asks her out on a date.
If you didn’t know Jack, would you assume he was shy? Of course not. You’ve just seen him act the way a confident person acts (note that word “acts”).
What if I were to tell you that Jack is shy, but has taught himself to act in the manner of someone who isn’t?
In his own mind, Jack will still thinks of himself as shy. He has all the feelings that shy people have. But to an outside observer, he doesn’t seem shy at all. The outside observer has no idea what Jack feels, and can only go on the evidence of his/her own eyes. To the objective observer, Jack is not shy.
So who’s right? Is Jack shy or not?
In my view, there’s no such thing as shy. There are the feelings that go along with being shy, and there are the things that shy people do (or don’t do) that signal their shyness to others.
The feeling “shy” has no objective existence in and of itself. At a biochemical level, the feelings Jack associates with shyness are identical to those that occur when he’s happy, sad, frightened, or overjoyed.
Objectively, Jack is simply experiencing a chemical reaction in his body. Shyness is nothing more than a mental interpretation that his mind places on the chemical reaction he’s having.
There is an interesting explanation of 3 different theories of emotion available on the Internet. Theory #3 is especially interesting, as it describes the results of a famous experiment where volunteers were injected with adrenaline. The results tend to support the idea that our emotions have more to do with a subjective interpretation by our brain, than any external objective reality.
For further evidence of this, consider that a coroner can’t tell you if a dead person was shy while they were alive. A coroner can’t open up the body and proclaim, “Ah yes, here’s the shy gland. This person was shy.”
Emotions are almost certainly interpretations we give to the chemical reactions going on in our body, and are given by context. If a person has a reason to fear something, the chemical reaction is interpreted as fear. If that same person has a reason to be happy, the reaction is interpreted as happiness. But it’s the same chemical reaction.
People can suffer as a result of their emotional state. The good news is, these states are wholly subjective. They don’t necessarily mean a person can’t do something because it makes them feel bad. For example, the subjective feelings that come with being shy don’t stop a shy person from acting in a confident manner.
I don’t claim it’s easy to overcome the habits of a lifetime. It isn’t easy for a person who feels a certain way to act as if they didn’t feel that way. But it’s possible, and I think that’s very good news.
There’s a very good chance you’re going to have to do things that make you feel uncomfortable, if you’re going to achieve your goal. The great news is, these feelings needn’t stop you from doing them. They needn’t hold you back.
Reality is an excellent tool. It isn’t subject to the whim and fancy of our thoughts and feelings. Reality tells us what we need to do to succeed.
Unfortunately, our thoughts and feelings often get in the way of the specific things we need to do to achieve a goal. For example, a person who thinks they’re bad at math isn’t going to want to do the kind of reality-based goal setting I talk about in this article. Their thoughts and feelings are going to complain and whine about not being good at math.
This won’t stop a determined person. A determined person will find a way through the mire of their thoughts and feelings, and indulge themselves in an orgy of reality!