The problem is…

The will to get good at it.  You know how it is, you figure out something you want to do or learn, a new passion, skill or hobby.  You get all excited about the endeavor, researching it, buying stuff for it, getting it all set up.  Then finally you get started doing it.  And it’s fun for the first few days, maybe even a few weeks.  You are proud you’ve stuck with it, because didn’t you read somewhere that it takes 3 weeks of repeated behavior to create a new habit?  Pretty soon, you start to take it for granted.  A distraction presents itself and you think “I’ll get back to that later, I need to take care of this now”  Before you know it, later becomes tomorrow becomes next week becomes a few months.  And the momentum you worked so hard at establishing is gone, not to be recalled.  Oh sure, you can work at it again, but the excitement isn’t really there, it’s been replaced by embarrassment and disappointment at letting it go in the first place.  So getting back to that groove takes even more effort, because now you’ve added some baggage to the journey.

You have to want to get good at it, not just try to get good at it.  The wanting will sustain you when the newness has worn off and the mundane has set in.  I’d forgotten that in this process of blogging, fortunately someone kindly reminded me.

26.2 miles

Yesterday was the Chicago marathon.  The past 2 years we’ve had freakily, if that’s a word, warm weather, in fact, 2 years ago they had to cancel the race midstream due to the heat and runners suffering severe dehydration.  This year the weather was on the really cool side, perfect conditions for long distance runners and predictions were records would fall.  Sure enough the 10 year old course record was broken by 1/100th’s of a second with the winner finishing in 2:05:41.  That time just blows my mind.  In slightly more time than 2 episodes of 60 minutes, a man ran from downtown Chicago to the Motel 6 in Dundee Road in Palatine IL.  If you’ve ever watched a marathon, the elite runners appear to be mythical creatures.  They fly by in a group and you can’t even hear their feet hit the ground.  There appears to be no effort, no strain, no difficulty on their part as they complete their trek.  It’s all in a days work to an outsider.  But the truth is in what you don’t see.  These people train daily, watch every single calorie they intake, analyze every aspect of their stride and improve the minutiae that will enable them to take 1/100th’s of a second off their time.  That’s what a professional does.  They labor in obscurity for months and years perfecting every aspect of their chosen craft until they burst on the scene in a blaze of glory.  The proverbial 20 year overnight success.  So many times we see a person on the screen, or in an arena, or on the microphone and think “I could do that, it doesn’t look that hard”.  To achieve the appearance of ease while attempting the impossible makes one elite.  It’s something I struggle with all the time.  I’m smart, competent and trainable.  It just frosts my cookies when I don’t master something the first time.  Pretty arrogant of me.  I fall prey to that nasty vice of instant gratification.  Keeping the long term goal in mind and continuing to put one foot in front of the other, do one more audition, learn another monologue will keep those baby steps adding up and someday I’ll be proficient enough to run my marathon effortlessly.

First and 10 at the 20

This time of year is a really happy one for me.  I’m a huge Indianapolis Colts fan.  HUGE!  The problem is I live in Chicago Bear territory and the games are usually scheduled to run at the same time.  I know, different conferences.  But when the Bears air on Fox, the local CBS affiliate won’t run another game against this telecast.  So unless I get lucky and one of the teams has a west coast game or they are playing in Primetime, I’m forced to leave the house to watch my beloved Colts.  And I really don’t like watching with others around unless they are fellow Colts fans.  I get too nervous.  Two years ago when the Colts played the Bears in the Super Bowl, even though I’d been invited to several parties, I watched at home alone.  My Mom, sister and BIL went to the game in the pouring rain but I couldn’t stand to be around others for fear they’d lose.  Fortunately that wasn’t the case.

This past weekend was a good weekend.  The Bears played in Prime so I could watch the Colts at home.  It was a very close game with lots of turnovers and a pretty low score.  For the most part, each time there was a turnover, QB Manning would be starting at his own 20 yard line, with 80 yards to travel for a score.  And each time, he would patiently and persistently march down the field towards the goal line.  Even when a play failed, he’d get right back under Center and try another play.  And when he ran out of downs and the other team took over, he waited until it was his chance to get back in the game, tweaking things with his coaches and then try again to make progress to the goal.  It wasn’t the case with this game, but I’ve seen him take the team, down 2 or 3 touchdowns on to win the game.  I’ve often wondered how a team and a person, can stay focused, committed, positive and professional against overwhelming odds and obstacles, sometimes overcoming them, sometimes not.  And then do it again the next week.  That drive to achieve comes from within and helps them to take that 80-100 yard march one yard at a time.

Oh and this weekend will be another good one.  The Colts are on Monday Night…are you ready for some football?

Vegetables

Asparagus, Broccoli, Cauliflower.  Or in my house growing up, trees, bushes and brains.  I hated all of them, the smell, the texture, the taste.  My mom insisted we at least try them because she wasn’t running a short order kitchen and we had to eat what she fixed.  I guess when you have 7 mouths to feed, you’d say that too.  We couldn’t leave the table until we had one bite and boy I could sit there all night in that battle.  It was Godzilla versus the Smog Monster and I was determined to win.  I’m sure the fact that my Dad hated them as well didn’t help her cause.  She stopped short of force feeding me but she usually prevailed.  Mom’s are good at that.

Now that I’m an adult, I have no one to force me to do anything, no one to help me see the benefits of what I don’t want to do, no one to answer to.  So when I don’t want to run that day, no one knows but me.  But a strange thing has happened.  I’ve found a bit of a silver lining in all that exertion.  Getting out of the house and out of my routine, I usually get inspired with an idea for a post, something I want to share.  It hasn’t made me look forward to running but it has allowed me to dread it less.  I am excited by the thought I will come up with something new.  I still have to force myself to get started but it’s a little less effort now.  It made me think about what else I do that I don’t relish and how I could find something, anything positive about it.  So I don’t hate it quite so much the next time.  And maybe, just maybe, I’d start to like it.

As for the vegetables, turns out I actually like asparagus and I’ll eat cauliflower if it’s raw.  But broccoli?  Can’t stand the stuff, never have, never will.  Blech.

Brand U

Since this is still a relatively new endeavor for me, I’m not quite sure the direction it will be taking.  Self produced content?  Aggregator?  Pu Pu Platter of all of the above?  I subscribe to many e-blasts and newsletters.  One which I’ve read for a very long time is Cynopsis by Cynthia Turner which is broadcast media based publisher of several daily newsletters.  This one came from their Cynopsis Classified edition which is edited by John Cox and is reprinted with permission.

“Success used to come from self improvement, now it comes from self-packaging.”

Snide? Yes. False? Not entirely.

The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines branding as “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.” Personal branding goes one step further – having your target audience see you not only as the best person to manage their needs, but as the only reasonable choice to solve their needs.

  • Determine your strength, what is it that you do better than anyone. This can include any number of skills.
  • Be proficient enough at your chosen skill to be seen as a leader within your community. Answer questions, look to help others, offer your wisdom freely.
  • Write, write, and then write some more. Submit your writings everywhere. Set up your own website and blog as often as possible.
  • Get on panels and offer to make speeches at industry gatherings. One really good, original idea/speech can serve many occasions.
  • Syndicate your ideas in a unique manner. You can’t say the same things in the same ways as others and get noticed.
  • Your ideas should be seen by as many people as possible. Social Media – Facebook has 45 million daily users. Set up a business-centric account that allows all to read but set up privacy so no one can tag you in an image. Twitter often and follow many. Become an expert in LinkedIn and answer as many questions as possible. This will also enhance being perceived as a leader.
  • Present a consistent image of yourself. Use the same photo in all social media, blogging, business card etc.
  • Be approachable. Do all interviews, answer all questions, return all emails.
  • Be visible. Go to trade shows, conventions, any industry gatherings. Talk to as many industry leaders as you can, but more importantly, listen to them.
  • Be patient. This process is not a quick one. It can take months to see results.
  • You must have a positive public persona. Your public persona will be tied to the ideas you are expressing. If you are a hothead, you and your ideas will lose credibility.