The “Sh*t Sink” Principle for Those Who Worry About What Could Go Wrong

Learn about a surprise in my hotel room in Denver during Authority Rainmaker 2015. This story demonstrates how you are already well-equipped to handle the unexpected …

In this 15-minute episode, I discuss:

  • How preparation builds confidence
  • The Sh*t Sink Principle
  • Why you should start or expand your online business before you think you are ready

The Show Notes

The “Sh*t Sink” Principle for Those Who Worry about What Could Go Wrong

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Stefanie Flaxman: Hello Editor-in-Chiefs! I’m Stefanie Flaxman, and you are listening to Editor-in-Chief, the weekly audio broadcast that delivers the art of writing updated for marketing in the digital age, so that you can become the Editor-in-Chief of your own online business.

I have another story to tell you today that is related to your online business. A bit of a follow-up to the past couple of weeks. The last episodes were “ Don’t Quit Your Night Job,” and “Why a Unique Selling Proposition Contradicts Everyday Life.” Those stories had a lot to do with the mental things that you go through as you’re forming your online business and when you actually have to deal with it day-to-day — the problems that inevitably come up and all of the things that you have to think about.

Today is the last part of that series. That story that I have is related to that. And then I’m looking forward to moving on into a couple of episodes in the next couple of weeks that are going to be about pitching to editors if you want to get your content on other websites and also dealing with the rejection that comes along with what happens when you put yourself out there. When you want to be a guest writer for other sites or if you want a partnership with some other company, a lot of the times it doesn’t work out — probably most of the time it doesn’t work out — but that’s okay. I’m going to go over things like that.

For today’s episode — before we move on to those topics, while it’s still fairly fresh in my mind — a few weeks ago I was at Authority Rainmaker in Denver, which you’ve probably heard about. It was Copyblogger’s annual conference, and we were in Denver. I’ll refer back to one more episode of Editor-in-Chief. I talked about how I don’t always travel that well. What was the title of that episode? I’m going to look it up right now. I’ll put it in the show notes as well, but there was another episode of Editor-in-Chief where I talked about that.

I’m actually a lot better at traveling now, but it makes me a little on edge. I think it’s pretty understandable that if you’re used to be being in one comfortable environment, traveling probably makes a lot of people a little on edge. That episode where I talk about that is called “Tenacity and Tissues (or a Specific Example of Why You’re More Capable Than You Think You Are)“.

How Preparation Builds Confidence

As I was preparing for Denver I just wanted to make sure I had everything in place — that I wasn’t forgetting anything for the trip. I actually have a lot of confidence now that I’m going to really be well-prepared and that I can handle anything that is going to happen on the trip. I have my little checklist before I leave. I have everything I packed and a little open checkbox. I have the items I packed, and then I have a checked box when I actually pack them going for the trip. I have an open checkbox, and on the way back I check everything off to make sure that I have everything that I’ve travelled with on the way back when I return home. Just to give you an idea of how I prepare for things.

I’m taking all these extra measures to make sure I have everything and all of that gives me a lot of confidence. I got in on Wednesday and then Thursday was the first day of the conference. Friday was the second day of the conference. Thursday night — great first day, super fun, met so many wonderful people. If you’re listening, thank you, I loved meeting you guys! It was so much fun to meet everyone in person. Thursday night — you’re really wound up when you’re just talking to a lot of people all day and there’s just so much going on, so many cool speakers. I was winding down for the night, but I knew, just because of how I am, I wasn’t going to immediately fall asleep that quickly.

I was still up at about 2:00 in the morning. I was kind of awake but kind of asleep. I’m resting right now — but I wasn’t completely asleep — and I’m in bed. I hear a rustling noise by my door, but I’m not fully awake. I definitely heard something and it startled me a little bit, but I couldn’t tell exactly what the noise was. “It was just a rustling noise,” was really the best way I could describe it.

I get out of bed and I go look through the peephole in my hotel door, and there’s no one there. The way most hotels are set up, the bathroom door is right next to the main door — the entrance to the hotel room — at a right angle to each other. I think, “Okay, I probably put my toothbrush down weird and it fell over or something in the bathroom.”

I go and I look in the bathroom and I look in the sink, which catches my eye, and the sink had completely backed up. It’s hard to describe exactly what it was, but I have been calling it a sh*t sink because there’s no other way, really, to accurately describe it in my world of what happened when all of the plumbing backed up. The noise was a gurgling noise of the sink. Actually the plumbing backing up.

I’m in my bathroom at 2:00 in the morning, half asleep, half awake, looking at my sh*t sink and thinking, “Wow, this was the last thing on my mind when I was preparing for this trip that was going to happen.” I wanted my phone charged and all these things, but it’s 2:00 in the morning and I’m staring at my sh*t sink.

I have a lot of natural optimism in me. One of my first thoughts was, “At least it wasn’t the toilet because I can still go to the bathroom, and at least it wasn’t in the shower so I can still shower in the morning.” It’s 2:00 in the morning, and I’m getting up at 6:00 to get ready for the conference the next day. I’m thinking about getting ready for the day and the obstacle of the sh*t sink. I wish I could describe it better but that’s really what it was. It was backed up plumbing all in my sink.

I’m thinking, “How am I going to get ready? How am I going to deal with this in the morning?” I’m thinking, “I need to leave extra time because I have to go down to the front desk and tell them about this,” and then I was also thinking, “I put the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on because I don’t want anyone coming in my room while I’m here, but someone’s going to have to come in here to fix this mess.” I was able to go to sleep, and in the morning I really hadn’t figured out a plan of how I was going to get ready without the sink.

The sink worked but I didn’t really want to go near it. Not terribly appetizing, brushing your teeth in that. In the morning, the sewage or the contents of the sink had actually gone back down. I don’t know how because it was mushy, liquid-y in the sink. And then in the morning it had all — I guess whatever was clogged worked itself out and it went down. But there was a complete residue around the sink. The sink was not white anymore. You can use your imagination of what color the sink was.

There was this big residue, but it made it a little bit easier to get ready. I just had to suck it up and be like, “I’m working with what I have.” I went down to the front desk and I told them what happened. I think it was a common problem because she was like, “What room are you in? What is blah blah?” and it wasn’t that room, but it makes it sound like they’re aware of this problem happening every once in a while, or maybe very often, I don’t know.

The Sh*t Sink Principle

I went to the conference. During lunch I went back to my room and someone had cleaned it up. It was all fine and dandy. It was great. So the point — and I wrote all of this down as it was happening — it reminded me of how scary it is to plan everything when you’re starting your business and when you’re growing your business.

You want everything to be perfect. You want to have control over everything. And there’s a lot of preparation that you can take to position yourself well to make the best decisions that you can the first time. And if you do make mistakes, at least you did the best you could with what you had to work with. There’s also so much unexpected stuff that will come up, and you’re capable of preparing for that, too.

Like I said before, the last thing on my mind in all my planning for the trip and all of the detail that I did — I did not think that the second night I was there, at 2:00 in the morning, I was going to be presented with a sh*t sink. That was not on my radar. I didn’t know even know that was possible. That’s never happened to me before, luckily.

When things come up that you didn’t plan and prepare for you are more than capable of handling them well and calmly. You just take care of it. You can worry, but you don’t have to worry about all of the things that will throw you for a loop, because there will be plenty of things that throw you for a loop in your business. No matter how well prepared you are, these things will come up, but you deal with them.

Why You Should Start or Expand Your Online Business Before You Think You Are Ready

I didn’t know how I was going to deal with my sh*t sink, I just did it. And that’s the mentality that you have to have when you push forward and grow your business. I don’t know everything that’s going to come up. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I try this, or do this, or reach out for this partnership, or try to guest post here, or try to increase my content.

You just don’t know what’s going to happen. But you can roll with it and you can deal with it, and the more relaxed that you stay — one of the things that I think really helped me in that situation is I just didn’t panic. There really wasn’t anything to panic about, but I was concerned about how I was going to get ready for the next day. I stayed really calm.

It’s actually scientifically proven — I can’t cite a study off the top of my head right now — when your body is relaxed and when your nervous system is relaxed, your body heals itself and it knows how to find a sensible resolution to whatever problem you may be facing. But you have to be in that relaxed state to have that clear head and move forward the best way that you can. If you panic it’s going to be more of a mess.

That is the story that I wanted to share. It really comes down to, I think, making things as simple as possible. Because then when unexpected things do come up — because they always will — you’ll be able to handle them well, and possibly even brilliantly. You might be really proud of yourself and happy that it happened because you were able to see a situation where you were able to stay calm and be relaxed and things were not going the way that you wanted them to, but you were able to handle them really well.

That is the story that I wanted to share for you. Just something to think about it if you’re concerned that things are going to go wrong and you’re not going to know how to handle them. You totally will. One thing that you can do to make a great decision for your online business is check out the Rainmaker Platform for hosting all of the work that you do online.

Editor-in-Chief is actually brought to you by the Rainmaker Platform. It’s the complete website solution for content marketers and online entrepreneurs. You can find out more and take a free, 14-day test drive at Rainmaker.FM/platform. That will give you a really good handle on a lot of the elements that you need to form a really solid online business that you can feel confident about.

You can check out that. And like I said earlier, in the next couple of weeks I’m going to start a series on pitching your writing to editors, partnerships, things like that, and then how to deal with the inevitable rejection that you will have.

I hope you will join me for that, and if you like listening to Editor-in-Chief, please go over to iTunes and leave me a rating or a review over there. It takes a couple of minutes, if you’re into iTunes. It’s super, super easy. I would really appreciate that. Thank you so much for joining me this week, I am Stefanie Flaxman. You have been listening to Editor-in-Chief. Now, go become one.