3 min read

When I quit my job a few years ago, one of the first things I did was invest in Seth Godin’s altMBA program. It was a good experience, but a couple of lessons really stand the test of time.

One of those lessons and exercises is what he called an “Asset, Boundary, Narrative (ABN) Analysis.” Sounds like some boring homework huh?

It’s actually really useful, especially in a time like this.  Let’s start with the definitions:

Assets are things you possess and can build upon. They can be bought, sold, and developed.

Examples: Money, relationships, skills, access, means of communication or distribution

Boundaries are what we determine we can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t do.

Example: I won’t try to sell things during the pandemic

Narratives are the stories we tell ourselves about our assets, boundaries, and so on.

Examples: “People don’t want to be ‘sold’ during this time” or “People aren’t hiring right now.”

Assets, Boundaries, and Narratives are all useful things. They form the core of our beliefs, and our beliefs are some of the most important parts of our operating systems.

But what you’ll find, time and time again, is that we need to do a little clean up.

Most of the time, we are undervaluing some of our assets.

We have setup some boundaries that shouldn’t be there, while neglecting to create boundaries that should.

And I promise you that you have created some narratives that are at best untrue, and at worst completely self-limiting.

This is as good of a time as any to conduct your own ABN analysis.

Before making any judgment, just start writing them down.

If that sounds like a lot, just think to yourself, “What are the stories I’m telling myself right now?”

And before you get wrapped up in right vs. wrong, true vs. untrue, instead think through the lens of useful vs. not useful.

It’s impossible to say if the narrative that I tell myself about getting to a place of financial independence is inherently right, wrong, true, or untrue.

But it can be a quite useful narrative – because that narrative is the underlying bedrock of my belief.

By holding that narrative, I strengthen my belief in it over time. And belief is arguably the most important ingredient towards realizing a potential.

Do you have a narrative that you won’t recover from this pandemic?

It’s hard to argue with tough realities of the here and now. There may be some pretty strong evidence that you’re having a hard time.

But your narrative about the future may be totally self-limiting.

Do you have a boundary stopping you from continuing to sell yourself or your services?

A narrative that people don’t need your help right now?

I would argue that neither of those things are useful right now. They certainly aren’t serving you, and they aren’t serving the people who still DO want your help right now.

If you are preventing yourself from beating your drum, people can’t find you. And if they can’t find you, they can’t be helped by you.

If someone called you today, and offered to pay you for your help – would that boundary prevent you from taking them up on that? Probably not.

So what purpose is it serving now?

Of course, we can certainly adapt to changing times. Strategies change. Tactics change.

Your Assets, Boundaries, and Narratives are yours. You are in your control.

You might as well make them useful.


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