There once was a shoemaker — a very busy shoemaker — who was in high demand. Everybody in town hired him to make their shoes. And he did a fine job.
He worked tirelessly, making pair after pair of shoes. He worked so hard making all those shoes for his customers that he didn’t have time to do anything else.
“But Daddy,” his children cried, “what about us? What about shoes for us?”
“I’ll get to you right after this pair,” he assured them.
But another customer came, and then another and he never got around to making those shoes for his own children.
One day, he looked up and realized that he had finished the last pair of his customers’ shoes. He had no more work to do.
“Okay, kids,” he called. “I’m ready.”
But there was no response, for his children had grown tired of waiting and had gone to live with their mother, who had left the cobbler on the grounds of neglect.
Of course, this is just my own variation of the story of the cobbler and his barefoot children, but it illustrates the point: We can’t let taking care of others’ needs keep us from taking care of our own.
We all know a variation of this story as well as the irony behind it ….
Yet, so many of us are prone to Cobbler’s Children Syndrome!
For example, are you a …
- Social Media Expert who isn’t consistently active on social media?
- Blog content writer who has only a few posts on your own blog?
- Search Engine Optimization copywriter whose site isn’t optimized?
- Direct Response copywriter who hasn’t written your own self-marketing letter?
You get the point.
The good news is that you can take steps to cure yourself of this syndrome.
Step 1: Admit you have a problem.
Yes, this is the first step to many things in life. (And don’t worry, this isn’t a 12-step solution!) But until you acknowledge the issue, you have no hope of beating it.
So admit it. Say it out loud to yourself, to your computer … to your dog.
Tell your spouse, your best friend, or your copywriting accountability buddy.
Whomever it is that you decide to confide in, get to talking and claim your power over the problem!
Step 2: Recognize the need to resolve the problem.
Ask yourself, “What will happen if I ignore the problem and do nothing?” What consequences will there be to your business success if you never “walk the talk” behind the services you provide?
Could you lose credibility with new prospects? Maybe the problem is jeopardizing your entire self-marketing …
Are you willing to accept those consequences?
Step 3: Let go of your guilt and regret over the past.
So you’ve been guilty of giving in to this syndrome in the past … Get over it and move on.
Regret does you absolutely no good, and it doesn’t even make you feel better! There’s no room for it in your new paradigm of a successful cure.
Step 4: Research your options.
There are MANY sources of advice on fixing this problem. Do you need a better system of time management? Should you devote a day per week to work on your business rather than in it? Should you outsource certain tasks?
Do yourself a favor and take the time to figure out which option will really work for you. After all, you don’t want to be like the New Year’s exerciser who’s a couch potato by February!
Step 5: Make a plan.
Now, once you’ve done your research and determined a workable “treatment” option, make a plan to implement it.
Figure out your action steps. Give yourself a time frame, a deadline to accomplish each step.
Step 6: Commit yourself to the plan … fully.
Your plan will not work if you do not fully intend to follow it. It’s like following a weight-loss diet plan … except for when you eat whatever you like on Tuesday and Thursday and then have dessert on Friday and Saturday.
This is why Steps 2 and 4 are so important. You know the consequences of not changing your ways (Step 2), and you’ve made sure the “treatment” option you chose is one you can work and live with (Step 4).
If you’ve properly prepared, there’s no room for excuses now!
Step 7: Hold yourself accountable.
Go back to the people you admitted your problem to in Step 1. (The actual people … your computer and your dog won’t be able to help with this step.) Tell them your plan and ask for their help in holding you accountable.
Another way to do this is to schedule questions to yourself in your calendar. Some examples might be:
- “Am I following through with my plan to cure my Cobbler’s Children Syndrome?”
- “What action steps have I accomplished to cure my Cobbler’s Children Syndrome?”
- “What else do I need to do to cure my Cobbler’s Children Syndrome?”
Put a note to yourself right on your calendar — schedule it as if it were an appointment or a meeting with an important client. Schedule your accountability questions for 30 days out, 3 months, 6 months, etc.
Now, have I missed anything? Do you have other suggestions to help your fellow copywriters cure “Cobbler’s Children Syndrome”? Or ,do you want to publicly admit your own problem? Please tell me in the comments below!
--- Originally published Jan 5, 2013. Updated for April 2019.