I was watching Eddie Murphy on the new series of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, and he told a great story.
Jerry asked him if he remembered the first time he realised he was a comedian.
So Murphy talked about how one day he was on the school bus, doing impressions of the other kids and folks in their town.
Then, when he got off the bus, it happened:
The other kids applauded him.
He’d known he was making them laugh, because he could hear them while he was doing his bit.
But it wasn’t until he got off the bus and they clapped his ‘performance’ that little Eddie Murphy knew:
“I’m a comedian.”
You probably had a similar experience doing what you do now. Maybe before it was even ‘a business’, when it was just something you did out of a sense of curiosity.
Think back to when you first started out:
Do you remember the first time you tried to do what you do now?
Remember how difficult it seemed at first, but how you felt a weird kind of chill running through you, as if something had changed forever…
How even though you weren’t all that sure about what the heck you were actually doing, you knew you wanted to do it again.
Then a little time passed, and you found yourself still doing it…
Do you remember the first time you majorly screwed up?
Think back to the first time you really got your ass kicked in your business.
Maybe you made a mistake on a client project, or you lost a bunch of cash on a bad investment, or your product shipped with a flaw noticed too late…
Everyone’s messed up big at some point. But despite yourscrew-up, you carried on. You bounced back.
You learned from your mistakes, and made some adjustments.
And you got better at what you do.
Do you remember the first time you truly felt like you knew exactly what you were doing in your biz?
What a weird feeling!
It’s a mix of elation that you finally figured out a way to combine your unique skills and experience, plus a strange sense of guilt:
“Wait… that didn’t feel all that… difficult. It didn’t feel much like… work.”
You looked around to see if you’d get caught. Busted by the Fraud Police for impersonating an expert…
Nope. “I guess I know what I’m doing. I’ll carry on.”
So you did. And you got even better.
Do you remember the first time you were applauded off the bus?
Not literally. I mean when your work was noticed and appreciated by someone who recognised that yes, you really do know what you’re doing…
Maybe it was the first time you heard a client say “ah, I GET it now. That really helped”.
Or maybe it was the first 5-star review of your product from somebody somewhere whose life was changed, even in some small way, by your work.
Or an email from someone who loved your latest photography project, and now wants to work with you on Big Things.
It’s often when you realise you just helped someone do something they couldn’t have done without you.
And this is a truly great moment.
It’s when you really know: “I’m doing the right work”.
The thing is, you don’t have to be ‘the best’ at anything at this point. Sometimes you just need to know more about something than the person you want to help.
This can come as a sudden realisation, other times it can slowly dawn on you weeks, months or years later.
Either way, you should hold on to that moment.
Soak it in and try to recall how it felt. Think about what changes had to happen along the way to get you to that point.
Write it down if possible. Your potential customers and clients will want to know about it.
Because here’s why it’s important:
Every entrepreneur has these moments, but they’re different for each of us. Each one is unique.
Only you had that particular breakthrough, at that time, with that set of circumstances leading up to it.
Your beginnings. Your mistakes. Your breakthrough moments. Your getting applauded off the bus.
Tap into that feeling whenever you can, and use it the next time you need to do your thing.