I’m currently working on a handful of intriguing improvements to the Ungated community and membership. But first, the backstory.
A few weeks back, I went on a retreat that scared me senseless. The experience cemented a lesson I've encountered a lot over the past year. On the other side of fear, there’s an abundance of aliveness, self-respect, contentment, joy. I seldom feel these things in my day-to-day life, but they were readily available when I was living outside of my comfort zone. Go figure.
I don’t know about you, but fear and insecurity have run my life as a creative entrepreneur. For years, I’ve held myself back. I’ve played small. I’ve sabotaged myself in all sorts of creative ways. I’ve chased other people’s definitions of success, and defaulted to other people’s answers instead of finding my own. All because of an underlying feeling that I wasn’t worthy or capable of walking my own path. Because I was afraid.
When I look around the creator ecosystem, I see the same patterns that plagued me playing out everywhere. I see talented people defaulting to best practices and easy answers. I see broad swaths of the internet where everyone’s doing the same creative work, using the same business models, and marketing in the same coercive, trust-destroying ways. But worst of all, I see a lot of creators who are unhappy with the way things are, and who feel trapped by it.
But I suspect we all have an intuitive sense that we’re capable of more. Each of us has individuated creative work inside us. Each of us has a unique point of view. Each of us, if we followed our intuition and curiosity, would end up somewhere different. If more of us chose that path, not only would we come alive, but so would the creative landscape of the internet.
But here’s the rub. Straying from the herd is terrifying. Carving your own path requires courage.
Most of what I’m doing on Ungated these days is scary. Between the experimental business models, to simplifying my marketing strategy to the point of absurdity, it all feels uncertain and edgy. Most days, I can’t tell if I’m blazing meaningful new trails, or making a total fool of myself. Truth be told, it’s an uncomfortable place to be, and I often miss the days of easy answers and walking well-trodden paths.
But I’ve been in the creator game long enough to know that if I retreat back to my comfort zone, I’ll never get where I want to go, or feel how I want to feel. If I go back to letting my fear and insecurity run the show, I will never respect myself, and I will end up on my deathbed knowing that I blew it. Maybe that sounds overly dramatic, but it’s true.
If the past year has taught me anything, it’s that my life and business get so much more interesting and vibrant and fun when I take leaps of faith into uncomfortable new territory. When I stop trying to know and control everything, and instead just follow my intuition and explore, the world opens up. I now trust that my fear is a reliable compass, pointing me in the direction of the life I want. And I now trust that discomfort is not the enemy I once thought it was.
Which brings us back to Ungated, and the changes I want to make.
Put simply, I want Ungated to be a container where courageous exploration is celebrated and championed. I want this to be a place where we’re all inspiring one another to take the next brave step in our respective journeys, so we can collectively break free from a broken status quo and be who we’re capable of being.
The big lesson I took away from that retreat is that courage is contagious. It’s so much easier to step beyond your comfort zone when you’re surrounded by people who want the best for you, and who are demonstrating courage themselves. And I believe Ungated can be the digital equivalent of that for creators.
If you vibe with that vision, there will be ample opportunity for you to leap into courageous exploration in the days ahead. So much of what I’m inviting you to experiment with is scary and uncertain.
It takes genuine courage to...
- Play long, infinite games in a world where zero sum, short-term thinking is the norm
- Break free from mimetic ecosystems and desires, and walk your own path
- Market yourself non-coercively in a way that feels good
- Explore your inner world and learn to trust yourself
- Follow your curiosity and do the creative work that only you can do
- Subvert the status quo, and make your corner of the world better
- Let go of the need for certainty, and instead run lots of experiments
- Build a business you enjoy, even if it looks nothing like what everyone else is doing
- Keep showing up, doing the work, and growing as a person for years on end
That’s the Ungated philosophy in a nutshell. It’s the playbook I’m following to build my digital life into something I’m proud of.
I can’t promise that following the same playbook will make you rich. But what I can promise is that it’ll make you uncomfortable in all the best ways. It’ll help you learn more about yourself, and show up in the world authentically and playfully. It’ll help you create work no one else but you could, and earn true, lifelong fans.
It’s funny. Since day one, the tagline for Ungated has been “the missing instruction manual for 1,000 True Fans.” And that’s still exactly what this place is. I believe in that business model and vision more today than the first time I encountered it 10 years ago.
But unlike my initial launch of Ungated, where my hypothesis was creators needed better marketing advice, and better step-by-step systems, I now believe the thing we need most is courage.
Without the courage to be yourself in a world that incentivizes conformity, the true fan model can’t work. Without the courage to set aside marketing and business practices that destroy trust and goodwill, the true fan model can’t work. Courage is the glue that holds it all together.
So there you have it. In the coming weeks, I’m going to make some meaningful changes to both the Ungated membership and the community. And they will all center around courage, and how we can collectively cultivate more of it.
I’ll flesh out those changes in future posts. But for now, all I’ll say is that I feel more excited about the future of this place than I ever have.