I’m finishing up a really great trip to Mammoth Caves.
Every tour I’ve been on this week I’ve heard different stories about the greatest cave explorer, Stephen Bishop: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Bishop_(cave_explorer)
In the 1840′s he was the guide to have take the rich Northerns through the caves. He was the guy you wanted.
Before the 1920′s people would write on the cave walls. One thing I read said “in God we trust. In Guide we trust.”
Your cave guide had the extra oil for lamps and knew how to get you out.
You were dead without your guide.
On top of that your guide would often help you leave your mark on the cave. He could write your name in beautiful script using smoke. You can still see those today.
But here’s the thing: Stephen Bishop was a slave. He was just property to the white man who owned him and the cave.
On the surface he was nothing. Underground he was everything.
It’s a lesson for all of us. Sometimes it’s not in your cards to be a land owner, a physician, a lawyer. All the things society tells you you should be.
Sometimes you have to be the cave guide. Sometimes you have to go underground to be king.
Seth Godin tells us we need to make our niche smaller. If you aren’t being successful you need to shrink your niche market.
It’s counterintuitive. But it’s the truth. It’s harder to be successful in the mainstream. How the hell are you going to beat Walmart, Coke, and Exon? It’s simple: Don’t!
Don’t compete with them at all. Go underground. Go niche. Go small.
And here’s the other secret we can learn from Stephen Bishop: Go deep. And push through the tiniest hole you can fit.
Once you find your tiny niche, explore every inch of it. Know it better than anyone. That’s how you become great.
I hope you are having a great Monday.
(From my phone in Cave City, Kentucky)