By default we are all consumers. You don’t have to ever try to consume something. it is in our nature to get what we want, whether that be food, clothes, tickets to an awesome event, scrolling through mindlessly on LinkedIn or other platforms. The real challenge is creating something that isn’t a humblebrag and actually adds value to those who read it.
Please, create something fun, create something intriguing, create something that sparks a new thought, even if its a potentially controversial one. Think of a hobby you have, a conversation that made you think, an organization that you volunteer for and create something that isn’t focused on you, but brings light to something that you want the world to know about.
A word of caution, don’t only create content that makes you look awesome. If you actually want to bring value to those around you, get beyond your big head and ego, and bring OTHERS value. What brings others value? Think about what brings brings them joy, stretches them in some capacity, or shines a light on something that could bring about a new passion or cause to fight for. Don’t think too much about the content itself, and instead, take the words of the great company Nike to heart… “Just do it.”
(The 5 pics in this post are just random shots that added a visual element. They are nothing special. Capture and create.)
I’m pretty sure it’s a universal law that we all love the sound of our own voice… I mean I know I do. I love hearing my sweet sweet tumbra as I drone on about things I’m passionate about. As true as this is, I also realize it is the worst thing for me to do to build relationships and really be able to share in people stories.
I have recently been challenged to shut up and listen, and I’m doing my absolute best to heed this advice. Side story: One of my greatest fears is to have silence in a conversation. I mean I literally used to pray Proverbs 29:25 “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but to trust in the Lord means safety” over and over again as a mantra. I would pray that over conversations saying to myself that it is dumb to worry about silence or lack of conversation, and that I could trust that the Lord would bless our time and make it beneficial. I still deal with this fear to this day.
Back to the post: I have had some great advice given to me that I believe will help me conquer the above mentioned fear and make me a better human being, father, husband, friend, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. To put the advice simply, it is to ask an intriguing question and to shut up and let the other person talk. If I really want to go one step further, it would be to take a vow of silence for a day, or at a networking event, so I can give the other as much runway as they need to talk. One last thing that I have started doing is bringing a little notebook and pen that I can jot down thoughts that come into my mind so I don’t have to interrupt. Please, if we ever have the opportunity to talk, hold me to this.
A couple questions to end on. Are you a fellow interrupter? Do you equally love the sound of your sweet sultry voice? If so, take up this challenge and start to listen more. Lean into the silence. Create better questions. Learn to listen, actually listen, and give the other person the gift of hearing their own voice / talking about themselves and what is interesting to them. When you give them this gift, it’s actually quite amazing how much you learn about them and figure out how you can both benefit from the relationship.
Ok ok… this title is kinda click bate because I don’t actually mean you should say no to networking, but that you should say no to the networking events that don’t work for you.
When I started my first job search I felt that I had to go to all the events I could find and talk to as many people trying to show how amazing I was. As I’ve experienced more and read some interesting books, I realize that that was probably the worst thing I could have done for myself in that season. When I just went to events and chatted up everyone, I wasn’t comfortable or in my element. Yes, I love people, building relationships and sharing in stories, but I was not in a good place to do that. Every conversation I made it about me, and as wonderful as I think I am… that was a big turn off for others and pushed them away from helping me.
Again, it isn’t about saying no to networking, but just saying no to networking in a way that doesn’t work for you. That doesn’t mean never getting out of your comfort zone, but it does mean figuring a way to be the most conferrable at those events. Bring a wingman / wingwoman and don’t fly solo. No reason to take on the sucky world of networking by yourself. Figure out the events that bring you life. That may mean you say no to the cocktail hour and say yes to a business book club, toastmasters, or local crew you get brunch with and gab about the latest industry trends.
Whatever puts you in the best state of mind and puts you most at ease is what you need to do. When you are anxious and out of your comfort zone, people sense it and instead of remembering you for something good, they remember to stay away from you and end up never helping. Please, do us all a favor and get to know yourself so you can say no yourself to those opportunities that would do you more harm then good.
One of the things I wish I would have realized a long time ago is that life is infinitely better together. It is amazing how this simple truth escaped me decades ago and how it still seems to be an elusive concept to many who try to do life all on their own.
It was fourth grade and a I wrote a note that my teacher confiscated and brought to the student counselor. From there my parents were called, my mother came to the school, shocked, and within a day or two I went to another counselor. I honestly don’t remember much more of the event, probably because I have blocked it out, but one thing I do remember is that I felt so dang alone and empty.
In that loneliness I fell into reading and started devouring books as best I could. There where a few in particular that really caught my attention and I would constantly go back to. Those where the books by my favorite author Roald Dahl. I am so glad I stumbled upon those books because they helped save me from loneliness and isolation. When I read those books, my imagination would run wild. I would think and dream of characters and lands that were magical and where anything seemed possible. I would get lost in those books for hours, turning page after page, being filled with wonder and life. It was these books that brought me into a much better state of mind and that helped form my healthy thirst for creativity and books.
I never ever thought of writing Roald Dahl a letter to thank him until now. As it turns out though, I wouldn’t have been able to write him one anyway, because by the time I discovered his world and words of wonder, he had already passed away. Even so, I wanted to immortalize these words and say “Thank you Mr. Dahl. Your words helped create a since of wonder and creativity and even made me realize that this world is one of pure imagination and full of amazing people with amazing stories. You helped save me from some dark and lonely times and helped shape who I am today. I am forever grateful.”
Please, take this challenge I am about to give you some serious thought. I challenge you to handwrite a letter to someone who has impacted your life. Let them know that impact they have had on you. It doesn’t matter if it is someone you have never met in person, just let them know. If they are no longer on this earth, write a post on the internet letting everyone know what impact they had. Please, take this challenge and spread some good, and don’t forget to let us know who it was and why you wrote them as well.
If you don’t truly know yourself, how do you ever plan to get better and plan against your weaknesses?
Something I have come to realize is that I like to go full speed ahead and do things before asking any questions. It is a trait that has been incredibly helpful at times, and also incredibly destructive. In my professional life it has helped bring about great life changing experiences, yet at the same time it has caused me to put my foot in my mouth and cause issues because I hadn’t fully planned.
Now I absolutely love this trait about me, but I realize that it can have a pretty negative affect if not controlled. Over the past 10 months I have seen this trait of “do first and plan later” time and time again. Most recently it was when I called a handful of friends trying to convince them we should put on a small sales conference. I was taking steps and getting people to do tasks when a I ended up having a conversation with a trusted mentor. The life altering observation he made was that I was taking too big of a bite. He asked the question,”What is one small step you can take that you could rally people around?”
That question changed everything. It made it go from a conference to s small monthly get together of young professionals over coffee or beer.
That one question shined a big light on a giant weakness of mine. Ever since that weakness has been brought to light, I have changed how I plan and do things. Now I am far from perfect as I still catch myself running ahead without asking the needed questions, but at least I am aware of it and can plan against it by having trusted people in my life tell me when I am rushing ahead and trying to take on too big of a task.
I’m not sure what your weaknesses are, but you need to get some trusted folks around you to help shine a light on what they may be, so that you can plan against them.
What is your weakness and how can you plan against it?