Two traps

Each day, each post, I walk a narrow path.

I avoid thinking too much about all the people out there who are going to read each post I write – people I like and respect and whose time I know is precious.  Because if I get too hung up on that, I can easily decide that a post isn’t worthy of landing in thousands of inboxes.

Or I could worry that the number of people reading this blog isn’t big enough, and try to write posts that will get more people to sign up.

Instead, I try to show up and do my best, most honest work.  I listen to my own standard of the work I’m striving to produce, and limit internal debates to conversations between me and my computer screen and ask: is this the best version of what I’m trying to say?

And each time I hit “publish” the inner critic, the doubts, the second-guesses lose a little bit more steam.

One day to go – nothing to lose

Generosity Day is tomorrow, and it’s hard not to stare at the #generosityday twitter search results and feel a little bit excited.

At the same time I’m realizing what a tricky thing expectation is.  Last year, when I was hesitating about writing that first (outlandish, crazy) blog post announcing that we wanted to turn Valentine’s Day into Generosity Day, a friend pushed me over the edge by saying, “Go for it!  The worst thing that happens is nothing, and no harm would come of that!”

That’s right.

Great things happen when you realize that no real harm will come from coming up short, but nothing will happen if you don’t try.

It’s possible that a few huge things will happen tomorrow that will catapult Generosity Day into the main- mainstream.  It’s also possible that they won’t and that this will continue to be a grassroots, distributed effort that builds every year without some giant step-change between here and there.

Either way, Generosity Day will always be owned by everybody, for everybody, and we’ve got nothing to lose.

Thanks for being part of it.

Six types of blogging days

  1. “This is such a great idea!  People will love this!  I’m a wonderful blogger!  It’s so easy!”
  2. “What the #*$%# is wrong with my  #%*$%$ computer!!”
  3.  “I’m not used to writing here/at this time of day.”
  4. “Gosh I thought this post was going to be easier to write.  This is taking forever and it’s still not there yet.”
  5. “Is this post good enough?”
  6. “I have nothing to say.  I’ll never have anything to say. It’s all been said before.”

The hard part is: you have to post on all of these days.  And the dirty little secret is that no one, not even you, can tell which is which.

Keep at it.

(p.s. this post isn’t just about blogging)

A better list

Lists are great – a systematized, orderly way to keep yourself on task and keep track of tasks.

Except of course that lists are usually an excuse – an excuse to do everything but the real work we have to do.

Some lists, full of seemingly important stuff, actually just say:

  1. Stall
  2. Stall
  3. Procrastinate
  4. Put stuff off
  5. Stall some more
  6. Look busy
  7. Have a meeting that looks busy
  8. Etc.

(By the way, your inbox is just a fancy list.  And don’t get me started on your Facebook / Twitter feed).

So how about this: keep the list, work the list, but act based on the knowledge that you’ll never get to the end of the list.  Knowing that, why not commit, once a day, to add one thing to the list (just one!!) that’s hard or scary, and commit to getting that thing done today.

Hard and scary is, it turns out, a pretty great proxy for “worthwhile.”

One item, once a day, every day, that terrifies you.

Good posts, bad posts, and the dragon

I have a confession to make: yesterday’s post wasn’t really finished.  I simply ran out of time, and even though I wanted to give it another read, to tweak it some, to tighten it and make it a little punchier, I just couldn’t.

So I published it.

And you know what?  I bet you didn’t notice, because my own inner critic screams a heck of a lot louder than you do.  And if you did notice, you probably didn’t care all that much.

I just finished Stephen Pressfield’s manifesto Do the Work (available for FREE on Kindle), the second book published by The Domino Project.  It’s an entire book about the Resistance, a malevolent force (an actual dragon) out to fight you to the death, to stop you in your tracks, to keep you from producing great art and for sharing your gifts with the world.

It will take you about two hours to read this book, and I promise it will stick with you for the rest of your life.  Every time you start to hesitate, to hold back, to put off something even a little bit, you’ll know that dragon is out there leering at you, snickering in the knowledge that he might win another round.

That dragon was telling me not to post yesterday, was telling me the post wasn’t good enough.   Tomorrow it will tell me that I don’t have a post in me, or if I do come up with something, it will tell me that what I do have to say isn’t good enough or insightful enough or clever enough to make it worth reading.

My ace in the hole is that I’ve already shipped.  I do it every day. I know how to win this battle.

And so do you.  Fight on!

(Here’s the link again to Do the Work, free on Kindle, in case something or someone held you back from getting it the first time.  Pressfield is the real deal, the author of 8 books, and he knows of what he speaks.)