Progress doesn’t arrive if I retreat into isolation to perfect my work. I never emerge with a masterpiece. Instead, I evolve in public, which means showing up and being prepared to deliver. I don’t find it comfortable to think aloud or persist through failure to produce “good enough” work. Yet that’s how I’m getting better. Day by day. Assignment by assignment. Client by client. Blog post after blog post. Drip, drip, drip. I show up ready to my home office. In doing so, I refine and deliver – through personal practice, collaboration, mentorship, and ultimately the market. This awareness is part of the work. The idea lends itself to anything worth pursuing.
“I don’t know what to write,” he said.
We took a “Zoom coffee” meeting together.
Then he proceeded to talk about his business for 40 minutes.
Everything he talked about, I imagined as blogs, emails, and social media posts.
He had plenty of “content” but perhaps didn’t realize it.
I ended with this:
It’s like you’re at coffee with your ideal customer. What would you say?
You’d share a recent encounter at your store; you’d explain something about what you do that only you know; you’d articulate the resonant voice in your head; you’d speak into an insight you can’t ignore; you’d exclaim what you’re excited about, and sometimes you’d try to say what you almost know but can’t quite explain.
For the right people, This is something worth telling.
If you’re stuck on content creation, have coffee with your ideal customer, and listen to what you say. That’s the content you want to share.
The things we fear to initiate don’t come with instructions. Read that again, and think about all your problems. There aren’t any instructions. The things we fear to initiate don’t come with instructions.
If there aren’t instructions for a problem, let’s apply “possibility.” Let’s explore what happens when we take an assumed rule and throw it out. Let’s not hesitate to apply this to our problems.
Let’s seek all of the favorable potential outcomes and choose the one we want to map back to. Yesterday I turned 47, and this is how I’ve arrived feeling. I won’t forget this idea and will carry it to age 100.
The things we fear to initiate don’t come with instructions. I love the word “initiate” because its main ingredient is a possibility. Possibility says it can be done. Possibility says we don’t need instructions.
Then why do I feel like a nervous fifth grader? I could blame society, school, or my parents, but I am the change. I believe in possibility. So, new story.
Our perception of life is a product of the frames through which we view it.
I think it works like this:
Our beliefs shape our understanding of the world around us. This influences our sense of urgency, our crises, and our decisions. All the things! Even though there are many truths in the world, we often focus on specific aspects, such as expectations, desires, or notions of justice or injustice. This self-selected “truth” becomes the foundation upon which we base our lives and everything else we encounter.
Sometimes, this leads to feeling stuck and the frustration that follows.
“Possibility” is about changing our beliefs, transforming our perspective, shifting our priorities, and unlocking new opportunities.
So the question is, how do we shift our mindset to one of possibility, and the answer is we don’t know. It doesn’t come with instructions.
Wayfinding takes different forms, such as discovering our path, accomplishing tasks, and altering our beliefs. In other words, wayfinding requires us to be open. To stay open. Wayfinding requires faith.
The most challenging part -“Going for it” has to balance with “This might not work.” That never feels comfortable, but what if instead of turning the other way, we saw that as a sign that we were on the right track? That’s a muscle that has to be worked through the repetitions.
This “possibility” through facing the fear of wayfinding is what I define as personal growth and fulfillment. It starts with recognizing the power of our beliefs and challenging them. Doing so can change how we view the world, our problems, and ourselves.
I’m trying, and if you’re reading this, I know you are too. Cheers!
I help owners find customer stories. Then, in a workshop setting, we get the communication “right” – together – to amplify these stories. Actual individual customers. Not just how many people they serve. Instead, how they helped one person, one family, one business. This includes finding, owning, and sharing these stories, which enables an owner to demonstrate that they are not just a company that measures up. More importantly, they are a company that matters.
If there’s one thing I love doing, it’s working with another business to find and highlight their best customer stories. That’s what I enjoy about my relationships, too – listening for a story, and the story makes your ideas matter.
Alternatively, I could look away from the pack.
There’s more room to move. More room for error, too. That is part of what is scary. There’s more room for growth. More room to spread my wings.
For example, SEO company websites look and feel the same. Freelancers, too. Most florists sell the same flowers, maybe wrapped in different paper. The gyms have similar training schedules. Real estate agents run the same mailers. For most, if the formula looks like it’s working, we’re happy to follow it. Of course, follow the well-trodden path!
But… if we stick with anything long enough, heading AWAY from the pack could be best because most people don’t risk going where everyone else isn’t, and in the long run, this is how I set myself apart. It’s still too early to tell, and I have much more work in front of me.
With my (freelance) writing or any creative endeavor, I must “put my butt where my heart wants to be.” If I want to do work that matters and continue leveling up, I must show up regularly, regardless of setbacks or challenges,
ie. Hello, 5 AM = Ass in the seat at the kitchen table.
Where does your heart want to be, and are you willing to put your butt there, too?
As a single dad, I juggle a full-time day job, freelance writing work, and parenting three kids. It’s a balancing act that requires me to manage myself effectively. As Seth Godin points out, we are often our own worst bosses.
So I’ve been thinking of myself as “the boss.”
With three competing tasks vying for my attention, I feel overwhelmed. Yet, I am grateful for the flexibility my day job and freelance writing provide. It’s a privilege and a right to pursue upward mobility and provide for and protect my kids.
To succeed, I try to set clear goals, establish a routine that maximizes my productivity, and care for myself physically and emotionally. Still, there are times when I falter and waste time.
Ultimately, the responsibility falls on me to hold myself accountable. It can be a daunting task, but when I am successful, it’s gratifying.
As the boss, I’m removing the title of “Boss.” Instead, I will continue striving to be the best Director of Self I can be, for myself, my kids, and my day job. I’m a lousy boss. I’m becoming a better Director.
How are you achieving the right balance to move forward without dropping all that’s good and precious within the status quo?
John said something unusual on the first day of the workshop.
Our instructor asked why we chose to enroll ourselves in such an endeavor. What do we hope for?
John told us he was dying from a rare form of cancer.
At that time, he was still feeling good. He said he was here to finish up something before he passed. He’d written love letters to his wife and wanted our help to get them “right.”
This three-part writing workshop was for those transitioning through change, divorce, loss, grief, and growth. I had all of those things occurring at the same time.
We gathered from poetry, stories, free writing, silence, discussion, and participatory exercises to stimulate reflection, self-understanding, and our depth of healing and hope.
Powerful stuff. Important, worthwhile work.
After John shared, it dawned on me that writing isn’t exactly about writing.
Writing is about remarkable communication.
It’s about accomplishing something with language that is important in our lives. Writing is a means towards something more significant no matter how poorly we feel.
That writing workshop was where we gave one another our full attention. Doing so is one way to advance dreams and move forward with life.
Thanks to the influence of John, I put my attention toward being a communicator of life work.
I emphasize the creative process and what it feels like to be my witness. This is something meaningful that I’d like to pass on to my children.
Most people will never attend a writer’s workshop, but we all have the workshop of life to live.
I like to think that, in our way, one way or another, we’re all collectors of the bits of life — adding in our thoughts and responses because that makes us feel significant, and it’s our way of declaring it precious. At least, that’s what my favorite people do.
I see listening and writing as an act of optimism, it’s a way for us to clarify what we need to do. Then use writing to move in that direction.
“Life work” is about finding why a particular encounter stayed with us. It’s narrowing our way deeper until we understand what happened there. Because it’s not random that you forget so many things throughout a day but specifically remember others. There is something that reveals who you are and what you are here to do.
One way to put this into perspective…
You’re home at dinner to gather with family or loved ones and find yourself talking about an encounter from the day, and something worth telling about happened.
What is it? What did it reveal that you know to be true?
You don’t need to be a writer to do this. You only need to be you.
Whatever that experience — you can share your story. As a mentor has written, “You can write as you talk.”
This is emotional labor, and it’s the required life work from a world that needs our stories, poems, little pieces — our work.
Our content is our voice and perspective.
Personal stories help us understand and experience human connections.
My small contribution is pretending I’m sitting down with you for coffee and telling you about an encounter from the day that stuck.
I’m reminded of John at our workshop, who, with cancer, was practicing to get the communication “right” and have something to pass on.
If you were to begin writing in the spirit of yourself, what communication would you want to pass on?
My choices not only determine my priorities, plans, and results—they are also clues about what matters to me.
The choices we make in our lives reflect our values, beliefs, and priorities. When we decide, we indicate what is important to us and what we want to achieve. These choices can range from minor decisions, such as what to eat for breakfast, to big decisions, such as where to live or what career to pursue.
The results of our choices can also provide insight into what matters to us. If we consistently achieve our goals in a particular area of our lives, it may indicate that we place a high value on that aspect and are willing to put in the effort to achieve success.
On the other hand, if we consistently struggle to achieve our goals in a particular area, it may indicate that it is not as important to us or that we need to re-evaluate our priorities and make different choices.
Overall, the idea that our choices determine our priorities, plans, and results and provide clues about what matters to us can be a valuable tool for self-reflection and personal growth. By examining our choices and their consequences, we can better understand ourselves and make intentional choices that align with our values and goals.
What steps can you take to align your choices with your values and priorities?
It doesn’t have to be Jan 1, which is just a celebrated reminder.
Today is March 18, and I will write here every day. Yesterday was the period at the end of the sentence, and today is the capital letter — a new sentence.
Let’s celebrate the reminder that every day is a chance to reinvent, which goes for any day. I choose today.
I’m always in motion. And, if I’m awake, I decide: forward or backward?
Today is a chance to start from scratch, and there is something beautiful about starting from scratch because all labels I ever claimed are now just vanity.
I am a zero. I don’t say I’m anything, everything starts, and I do or do not do.
I’m not looking for the end of the road; I’m at the first step and can see the next step. That’s what the New Year means to me and what today means to me as a writer who clicks publish.
Any day can be the “Jan 1” you choose, and today is mine.