Genuine work freedom comes from leverage, and leverage comes from removing constraints like renting yourself out to a corporation, being an hourly wage earner, or even being a freelancer with limited time to earn.
It may sound incredible, but something as simple as creating a checklist can turn constraints like these into real leverage by turning what you know and do into something that others would pay to have access to.
You have expertise other people will readily pay for.
How do you turn what you know into a product, an e-book, a system, or process?
How to turn what you know into a system
I read a very cool little book called The Checklist Manifesto. It’s by a surgeon who reveals that an astonishing number of surgeons make big errors because they attempt to perform complex processes from memory. His advice is that every process should be pulled out of your head and turned into a checklist. I think that’s brilliant in its simplicity.
I had a thought-provoking conversation about this in a forum I belong to.
The group was talking about process and the specialized ways every expert (every one of us, really) does things for ourselves and for clients, and how we can stop doing so much “by hand” and repeating so many steps over and over again.
John, one of the smart guys in the group wrote the following:
Be able to draw a process map (a checklist) for everything you do or you are just flying by the seat of your pants.
Pilots fly big heavy complex airplanes hundreds of hours a month and don’t memorize — aren’t allowed to memorize basic routines (preflight, before engine start, etc). Everything is a checklist.
Building processes from what you know is tough, but that’s the only way you’ll be able to teach someone else how to do it.
One more flying reference: when I was in the Air Force, there were guys who could fly the heck out of a plane, but couldn’t for the life of them tell someone else how to do it. They flew seat-of-the-pants.
These guys were good, but they’d never be an instructor (part of the natural progression).
It all comes down to this:
You need to be able to explain what you do.
It is better if you can write out your steps.
If you can’t do the above, you will have one hell of a time finding someone to help you, as you won’t be able to teach him or her what to do.
This conversation thread continued for a few months, with people reading the Checklist Manifesto, chiming in with their takeaways, and John returned to the conversation, summing it all up nicely:
If you don’t have a system you’ve pulled out of your head and written down, you can’t:
Reasonably teach someone else to do it
Expect to be consistent
Work efficiently under stress
We’ve worked with clients for nearly twenty years, and by necessity have created a lot of systems and processes.
Yet pulling those processes from what we know has been the biggest single challenge in our business.
I knew it would be difficult to pull systems and processes out of my “automatic brain,” and it has been difficult. But it’s been getting easier every time I take the time and focus to do it.
Start now turning what you know into a system
1. Become aware of what you do.
Sounds obvious, but when we actually slow down and take notes of what we actually do on any given day, we might be surprised at some of the things we end up doing.
Take notes. What’s automatic, what comes naturally to you, without thinking? That’s exactly the sort of thing that needs documentation the most.
2. Organize it
Let’s say you’ve watched yourself during your work with a client during a three-month project. You’ve taken notes. You’ve written everything down.
Next question is: How can you systemize those steps so other people can do that? Some things only you can do, right? What can others do?