Just start. Do not give up. It’s a long journey, you can’t give up so easily. These are just a few wise words from Nick Seuberling of the Inside the Jungle Podcast! Nick has been podcasting about football, and sports, since 2005. He’s going to talk to us about the power of podcasting live and tell us his unique story of trial and error.
Trial and error might not be quite the right way to state the journey Nick has been on, as “error” carries a much harsher connotation than I’d prefer to attribute to his experiences. But through the Profitcast lens I think it works for one big reason: we each have in our own mind this idea of what profiting with our podcast means, so we try one thing and when it doesn’t pan out we try another, and another. Nick started broad and gradually narrowed his niche down to what he now considers success and profit.
Famously, the methodology “trial and error” is attributed to C. Lloyd Morgan, a British animal psychologist and a pioneer in comparative psychology. He developed a statement that is now known as Morgan’s Canon, which is essentially a culmination of his observations in an experimental approach to his chosen field. Before Morgan, psychology wasn’t considered an “experimental science”, but Morgan couldn’t describe his observations of the ways in which animals learn and develop in any other way but trial-until-success.
There is an important lesson we can learn by taking a look at C. L. Morgan’s work, and I think it ties nicely into Brian and Nick’s discussion about finding your niche and learning by doing and not giving up. We’ve spent plenty of time talking about the importance of “niche-ing down” and “being the first”, but it would be a shame to overlook the basic, evolutionary fact that biological systems (whether it’s a human, an animal, or whatever) wouldn’t be where they are today unless the majority of its contributors didn’t give up.
In no case may we interpret an action as the outcome of the exercise of a higher psychical faculty (or psychological processes), if it can be interpreted as the outcome of the exercise of one which stands lower in the psychological scale.
Morgan’s Canon (parenthetical mine)
If you’re scratching your head and trying to re-read the above quote in a way that makes sense, let me lend just a little insight as to what I have come to know it to mean. To paraphrase: we should not use generalizations for something that can be broken down into smaller components, unless there is evidence of that generalized application having been a primary or solitary factor. This doesn’t mean that things are connected, or behave, in the most simple or economic way (path of least resistance, if you will). It’s not referring to Occam’s Razor (the solution with the fewest assumptions must be the correct one).
While simplicity is a common criteria between Morgan’s Canon and other laws or principles, such as the law of parsimony or, as mentioned previous, Occam’s Razor, it actually strives to caution us against accepting simple answers. It seems simpler to explain accomplishments or achievements as the direct outcome of reason or intellect, for example, than to account for them as the result of a complex series of experiences. But the apparent simplicity of an explanation, Morgan says, is the dangerous caveat in understanding any biological system.
Am I losing you? Think, for a moment, about your profiting goal. Do you want to make a living by doing what you love? Do you want to be an expert in your field? Now think about a podcaster, or a network, or an entrepreneur who, for lack of a better phrase, has what you want. The simple explanation is to say that So-and-So achieved Such-and-Such because they are better business-minded, smarter, savvier, more charming, have more time, have more money, etc. These are the high-level activities we’re prone to believe separate Us from Them and lead to the unhealthy assumption that because we do not operate at that high-level, we cannot be successful.
In the course of addressing his own principle, Morgan draws many references to the complexity of nature, both in human and ecological evolution, and how science rarely accepts the simplest explanation. The simple explanation can be misleading. In the context of the above paragraph, in thinking about what it means to profit with our podcast, it can lead us to think we’ve failed if we don’t meet X goal in X time. Just because a certain subset of podcasts explode, become immensely popular, and make large amounts of money does not make it the rule to how such things work in the real world.
There are exceptions, both in science and in podcasting, where these “high-level activities” are what make a person or a podcast so successful. But again, attributing success to only these isolated, and somewhat “elite”, factors is just as misleading as saying they are why we are not succeeding.
At Profitcast we’re all about the journey. Everyone’s is different. Everyone’s is unique. So don’t cut your own short by stacking your present circumstances up against someone else’s. Identify some generalizations you’re making about a person or a podcast and break them down so that they aren’t these enigmatic, unattainable milestones. Setting the bar high isn’t a bad thing, but in the words of a great ballplayer, Bo Jackson: “Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there.”
Dear Nick: I just watched the Bengals’ undefeated season come to an end. Sorry, man! I’m struggling to watch my Packers play this year. It’s pretty brutal.
- Inside the Jungle Podcast
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