Often the story makes more sense than the truth. The truth might not be sexy. It might not be captivating. It might be too confusing. Hollywood knows this and is in the business of telling the story without letting facts get in the way. To me one of the most infuriating facts they constantly get wrong is the sound of bullets. Yes, bullets make sound and yes it’s a different sound than gunshots.
A high velocity projectile moving upwards of 3000 feet per second makes all kinds of sounds. It’s a gut punch when it shreds the metal side of a truck. It’s a hammer blow when it sinks deep into a bunker sandbag. It’s an ominous gulp when it hits water. It’s a thunder crack on the stones at your feet.
“You never hear the bullet that kills you.” That’s the saying. It’s probably true. I don’t know, but I’ve talked to the wounded and none of them have remembered the instant of impact. I think our brain shields us from that reality.
Here’s the terrible thing about bullets, your ears fail you when you need them most. In the blockbuster, shots ring out and wizz all around the hero. He quickly looks for the source, identifies it, and shoots back. That didn’t happen for me. The bullets pounded, shredded, and crashed. Then the gunshots ripped across the audio spectrum and bounced back through my head like the isolated drums of a metal song caught mid-stanza; all fury and violence without melody. Your ears don’t do well with that chaos and trying to focus your hearing in the midst of the cacophony is frustrating.
I get it. I wouldn’t be able to figure out a way to film it either. The director is telling a story of people, using the weapons as catalyst in that story. He’s not telling the story of the bullet and he’s not telling the story of the sounds ricocheting from every surface. The truth is too hard to understand.Still, I’ve been known to walk out of a theater when the story is too far removed from reality. I’d rather see a superpowered alien push a planet out of its orbit than sit there and watch our unflappable hero ascertain the sniper’s exact location from a single shot and return fire instantaneously.
Why have I been going on and on about this pet peeve of mine? Because too often similar confusion comes from all kinds of different sources and we’re supposed to figure out the truth on the fly and respond quickly, and maybe that’s just not possible. Maybe we need to stop, take shelter, take some deep breaths, and try to figure out the facts before we make decisions. I guess what I’m saying is: Don’t believe everything you hear.
For example, marketing. Seemingly the minute you register your business your phone rings with the first of thousands of calls about your website, SEO, and google validation. A minute later your inbox fills with offers for the same, plus postcards, paid reviews, and placement in every kind of ad from diner tablemats to golf scorecards to grocery store receipts. Not to mention the texts, national franchise lead generators, service clearinghouses, and paid site memberships offering exclusive access to homeowners and businesses. Go online and dare ask for advice on any of these things and you’ll get it, hundreds of comments, nearly all in disagreements and, if you’re lucky, you’ll generate more than a couple of knock-down fights in the reply thread.
The noise is too much, overwhelming. It confuses the issue and there’s no direction to choose.
Don’t believe everything you hear.
Stop and take some deep breaths and then focus on what it is that you want. I mean that genuinely. When you’re getting started it’s hard to decide what kind of business you want to have. When I started I did some residential, mixing new developments with older, difficult mansions. I went after some commercial accounts and some storefronts. I wanted to do restaurants and I wanted to do hotels. It seemed like every month I had a different focus and because of that I was mediocre at both the work and my advertising - always missing the mark, often missing a spot.
Then I focused. I ignored all the noise, the static, the opinions, and most importantly, I stopped trying to copy something from everyone else.I decided to go after high end older homes with difficult storm windows and maybe even more difficult access. I focused on techniques, tools, and I lasered in on my marketing and then I got more demand than I could possibly supply.
Once I stopped chasing everything and started really understanding what it was I wanted I could start asking questions back to the curtain of noise. “How can you get me this exact client?” Since I now knew the client better than the marketers and salesmen did, I could quickly determine if they were just pitching or whether they really did have some access. Once I knew where the clients were, I could judge for myself if my online presence was working. Once I understood what I wanted, I said no with more confidence, the noise died down, and I made myself much more effective.
Bullets make so many different sounds that it’s hard to figure out which way to move to safety. Business advice is the same way. It will freeze you in indecision unless you already have your direction.
There’s another, even more dangerous reaction to the sound of bullets. A few people can’t, or won’t hide from the noise. A few people get so overwhelmed that they stand up, exposed, in the line of fire and get cut down. I’ve seen it.
It’ll happen in business too. I’ve seen new business owners who can’t seem to say no. They sign up for every program and offer. They submit to every coaching fad and they never stop reading the literature long enough to implement anything into their business. They stand up in the middle of the cacophony of confusion and are cut down, crippled in debt. You have to be able to reject the vast majority of programs, tools, opportunities, and promises.
What you choose to do has to come from within your plan and has to fit your direction. How you respond needs to be organized and consistent.
I’m here if you have questions.
- Rick Wren