In 1492, Columbus kept a diary of his voyage. In September, he wrote this:
“That day they navigated, on their westerly course, day and night, 20 leagues, counting a little less. Here those of the caravel Niña reported that they had seen a tern and a boatswain bird, and these birds never go more than 25 leagues from the land.”
In other words, he noticed the birds…and knew he was close to land.
You can use this principle in business and personal life, too. I call it The Seagull Theory.
The Seagull Theory describes how the subtlest of clues can signify you’re on the right track. For example, when someone says something once, you might not notice it. When you hear it again, that’s interesting. When you hear it three times, you lean in and start paying attention.
Listen for seagulls in business. For example, when I went on a book tour and asked readers, “What do you want me to write more about?” the first person said, “How to make more money.” I asked more people. Almost all of them said, “How do I earn more?” I was skeptical. After 15-20 people saying the same thing — or seeing 15-20 seagulls — I realized I had to dig into why I kept hearing this over and over.
I leaned in, listened, and turned that insight into a course, which has now helped thousands of students start side businesses and generated millions of dollars.
Listen for seagulls in your personal life. If you start to listen, you’ll notice people saying certain things about you:
“You’re always so serious”
“You always look so amazing. I don’t know how you pull those outfits together”
“I’m sure you wouldn’t go, but we’re thinking about going skydiving…”
“I know you’re busy, but…”
“Guys like you and me, we…”
Suddenly, you have a secret microscope on people’s impressions of you. ‘Why do they think I’m serious? Do I want to be serious? (What am I doing that’s giving off that vibe?) Wow, people think I’m good at dressing well. Weird…it just comes naturally to me.’
The Seagull Theory can also tell you when you’re not on the right track. If you listen to people describe this site, some of them will say, “Oh yeah, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, that’s the personal finance site, right?”
I haven’t written about personal finance in years. This seagull shows how difficult it is to change positioning in someone’s mind. It’s not their fault — it’s mine for not making it easier to describe IWT. (I write personal development, not personal finance.)
Listen for seagulls in your life. When you hear someone saying something once, twice, three times…lean in and listen.
What’s an example of a seagull you’ve noticed in your business or personal life? Leave a comment below.