I do a lot of coaching and teaching. With all the changes going on in technology, there is no shortage of people hungry to learn. Over the years, I’ve begun to realize that I can tell which students are going to adapt to the changes, and which one will have a much harder time. It’s a simple question that you can ask yourself: Do you want to be something or do something?

It might seem like an odd question to ask you about your motivation for learning digital marketing, but I have found that it really matters. For example, if your motivation is that you want to be an analytics person for a big company, or you want to be the CMO, or you want to be the top-rated marketer where you work, that is actually a red flag. If, on the other hand, you want to improve your company’s conversion rate, or you want to raise your traffic from Google, or you want to increase web sales, that’s a good sign.

Why the difference?

For some reason, those motivated by being something tend to be more risk averse (“I don’t want to run any risks that screws up my chance at CMO”) and less likely to experiment. They want to do it right and right away. They are more focused on their reputation than on their results. This makes them less likely to take the very chances that will allow them to learn and to improve.

Conversely, those motivated by doing something seem to fare better. They are focused on the world and how it is changing, rather than fixated on their own appearance. They learn by doing and they keep learning every day. They are focused on measuring what they did so they can tell what actually worked. They are unafraid of being wrong. They accept it as part of the learning process.

Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be the CMO, but if that is the sum total of what you want, you probably won’t take the real chances needed to actually succeed in a big enough way so that someone might consider you for the job. You’re so busy worried about how you look that you fail to actually accomplish anything.

Instead of worrying about how others perceive you, instead use your own internal barometer to improve every day. You’ll not only adapt to digital marketing, but to everything else that changes down the road.