What I wanted my blog to be changed, and although I tried to rekindle that romance last year, it is now something made just for me. A reflection of myself.
I’ve enjoyed Greg’s blog for a while. Primarily because it’s just what he says…his.
As someone who has started and stopped his own website/blog a couple times, I like hearing (reading) someone else who has done the same. One of the few reasons I didn’t just stick with writing over on Medium was that I wanted my space.
When I find a company that knows what it stands for and it aligns with my own beliefs…I am all in.
I’m not just referring to the couple soft goods companies in this blog post title. E-commerce company Next Jump has a culture I got to experience that changed my life. Simon Sinek has written books and given TED talks that I write about often and that I will buy immediately in the future – no questions asked.
These aren’t just companies or individuals that have social assistance programs to check a box or “mission statements” that sound good. Rather, these are organizations that make moves that stand by their beliefs but often seen as counterintuitive to traditional success…like Patagonia’s “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign.
I’ve been a Patagonia fan since I first started reading about how the founder started the company and my affinity grew as I saw how committed it is to sustainability, quality, and family. Living in Ventura, where the company was started and is headquartered, I met people who worked there and loved it. The stories you hear about employees taking surf breaks, child care at work, and the overall quality work environment are not exaggerated.
Are you surprised that my social media accounts are some version of @PatagoniaDad?
The 1% Rule
I came across the below video by YouTube’s very own Captain Sinbad. I encourage you to take the couple minutes to watch it. He’s very good and I can see why he has over 300K subscribers.
If you don’t want to watch the video…
The 1% rule is simple: improve just 1% each day. The idea is that if you do this, the good habits you develop stack over time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you won’t be either.
Stop focusing on the end result and start paying attention to the process.
When I said I have a bad habit, that tends to mean that I fall down rabbit holes of learning about these amazing companies…and then buying a ton of their stuff! Fortunately for me, this means that I am buying quality items…usually over a long period of time. (I can neither confirm nor deny that I’ll be writing about a bunch of GoRuck stuff that I might have after Christmas) 😏
One of the many things that struck me in his post was the below chart.
Crazy growth aside…what struck me was those first couple years with $0 revenue. And while the chart displays no data for ‘growth’ for those years…I would argue that they were growing a little bit every day.
Consistency and The “Why”
Simon Sinek is most famous for his talk about the Golden Circle and pointing out that successful companies plant their flag in their “Why” first and their product second.
I believe that the companies I’ve mentioned naturally follow the 1% rule because they are founded on a belief, a purpose, or a mission that speaks them, their employees, and ultimately their customers. As Captain Sinbad pointed out when talking about the movie ‘Money Ball’, Billy Bean shifted his focus to metrics that actually matter.
These companies are focusing on what matters…they know their why. They consistently stay centered on their why and communicate about their products through that rather than vice versa.
People don’t buy what you sell. They buy why you sell it.
When you frame your work life around something foundational to who you are or what you believe…it almost becomes easy to improve by 1% every day. As long as that why is genuine and (in my opinion) not self centered.
“Our findings suggest that the psychological reward experienced from helping others may be deeply ingrained in human nature, emerging in diverse cultural and economic contexts,” said lead author Lara Aknin, of Simon Fraser University in Canada, in a news release.
A great definition I saw for questioning is that questioning enables us to organize our thinking around what we don’t know. So, in a time when so much knowledge is all around us, answers are at our fingertips, we really need great questions in order to be able to know what to do with all that information and find out way to the next answer.
I like the point of framing what you are putting your brain power towards by organizing it via the right questions.
Then there’s memory. Print book readers retain more information.
As a new study from the Developmental Neuroscience Laboratory at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology argues, the same goes for writing. Handwriting helps children and adults remember information better. Typing is a shortcut.
The team, led by Professor Audrey van der Meer, hooked 250 nodes to each participant’s head to collect 500 data points per second. Once they were strapped in, a dozen 12-year-old children and a dozen young adults wrote by hand, typed, or drew. The clear winner: using paper, not devices.
This makes me happy.
Because while I do love my tech and productivity apps, there is just something about writing (journaling, note taking, etc) that cannot be matched.
When done right, social responsibility gives back—to the charity and the business. And, as this research shows, something as simple as typeface choice matters.
Donors were one-sixth more likely to give when the typeface matched the message. In this case, that meant “warmth-focused” messages were handwritten while “competence-focused” initiatives were machine-written.
Typeface has interested me for a couple years now. I might be embarrassed to tell you how much time I spent choosing the font for this site…and then tweaking it.
Seems like for some businesses it is time well spent.
I recently surpassed 100 direct followers and I wanted to thank everyone who has commented, liked, and hit that follow button here.
If you see my about page, you’ll see that across all my platforms I am over 8,000 followers…but I’ll let you in on a little secret. I hit a hot streak over on Tumblr a few years back and most of my “followers” are from over there (where I still cross post). That was back when I was climbing and photo focused.
Tumblr’s state of affairs is a whole separate topic, but please know that I consider my followers here much more “present” as I see a lot of interactions via likes and comments from you all.
I remember posting over there once that I was shutting down an old website of mine. Of the over then 7,000 followers I had I got one email.
However, that one email was from someone who told me that my posts had inspired him to start his own climbing inspired website. He even sent me a climbing chalk bag that I have to this day.
I had posted over there as the “caffeinated climber” from my now defunct climbercafe site. A site that I enjoyed creating and building but ran out of time to keep up…but I inspired one person to action.
And that one made it all worth it.
If you take anything away from this today, remember…write for the internet you want…you may just inspire that next one to action.
I know that Father’s Day isn’t until the 21st, but since I’ll be out camping with my family that day…Happy Father’s Day!!
Funny enough I was talking to my mom recently and asked her about the first time I went camping as a kid…thinking we had started when I was about 7 or 8. She laughed and said that my younger brother was still in diapers when we first camped (we are 20 months apart).
My mother told me that she just stripped us both naked and we played in a creek for a whole day in the Sequoia National Forrest. And she got to read a book for the first time in 5 years.
Hearing that just made me smile and realize even more how much a part of being in the outdoors is a part of me.
Being with my mom and dad camping are some of my fondest memories of my childhood, so I am incredibly excited to start forming those same memories with my own kids.
If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you know that my handle is @patagoniadad (or a slight variation)…and I’m proud to have that dad part of me out there.
To all the fathers out there that are trying make sure they keep their kids alive, fed, happy, and socially well-adjusted…thank you.
You ever try to hold your breath underwater for as long as you can?
Social distancing, school cancelations, and teleworking have created this cloud that workers can’t seem to escape.
Here’s how to change that.
The State of Affairs
At first working from home was novel. Working in your sweatshirt, using your home computer for high tech Zoom calls, grabbing a snack whenever you want…this is great right?!
But it got old…fast.
With connectivity and system access that is not the same, kids demanding attention for home schooling needs, an ever present “funk” seemed to hang over all of these workplace and social restrictions.
I’ve had my staff on a half-on/half-off rotation for the past couple months to minimize people in the building. While this seems to be beneficial in allowing folks to social distance as well as to help at home more, it seems to be chipping away the family environment that I have worked hard to create.
As a leader, good communication, workplace rhythm, and co-worker socialization is important to me. A unit is most cohesive when one department can anticipate the needs of another…and this “togetherness” is essentially halted when telework is predominant.
Communications are not the same via chat or email, rhythm is lost, and socialization…is (of course) distant.
How are you feeling about all this?
As a leader, it can be difficult to pull this kind of thing out of your people. At least for me it is.
Now that I am the person that signs evaluations, makes decisions on big ticket items, and is overall responsible for the health and well-being of everyone…it feels awkward walking up to an individual and asking him/her “How are you feeling about all this COIVD19 stuff and all the social restrictions right now?”.
Or maybe it’s easy and that just an issue specific to me.
For a while I thought that might be the case… a me issue. But my staff lead and I were talking about day to day operations when we ventured to this “funk” we had been sensing. I am fortunate to have someone I can be so open with…and after just a minute or two of talking about this dark cloud hanging over our staff…we began brainstorming.
The Next Steps
Over my years as a leader in the military, I can say that one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that humility and honesty go a VERY long way with those you lead.
I was fortunate to learn this lesson early and to this day it is both surprising and satisfying to hear junior folks tell me how refreshing it is to have someone so open and honest in charge. Not to say that I don’t have things to keep learning, but I feel like I worked those attributes in to my leadership style and it has seem to work well.
With that, I decided that if I feel awkward asking my folks directly how they feel, that I will have a forum of openness…and I will kick it off with my own struggles.
What followed was more emotionally charged than I had expected.
I dove straight in.
I kicked our weekly meeting off with the reality of what we had been sensing,
“I feel like there is some sort of cloud hanging over us” I stated, “and I do not know how everyone is dealing with this or feeling about it…so I’m going to go around the room and if you want to talk you can. You don’t have to…but I want you to know that we’re here for you and potentially hear what others are feeling too.”
It was pretty quiet and I saw questioning looks…not surprised…but unsure.
Without giving them too much to overthink it, I led off with the slightly depressive feeling that I had been sensing. I talked about how hard it has been for me not to see them everyday at work, and how difficult it is for me to work at home while also helping homeschool my kids.
I often consider myself an extrovert with some strong introverted tendencies (I need time alone to recharge, etc)…but this has been different.
As we went around our conference room table, some folks I didn’t have much to initially say so I tried asking some open ended questions to challenge them a bit…push folks a bit out of their comfort zone.
Some of my staff are “geo-bachelors”…live away from their families.
– “How do you feel about not being able to see your family?” – “How is your family doing?” – “How do you feel about all this?”
At a couple points folks got choked up. As we opened up you could really feel the emotional toll this social isolation was taking on some of us.
“This has been hard” “It’s been tough for my kids…they don’t understand” “I’m hanging in there”
The Other Side
You ever try to hold your breath underwater for as long as you can?
Then you have experienced that feeling of intense pressure that is lifted when you surface and take a deep breath.
That is almost what it felt like at the end of our meeting. All of the pressure wasn’t gone, we are all still treading water in these uncertain times…but it felt like some pressure had been lifted.
It’s one thing to know that “we’re in this together”, it’s another thing to hear it from other people in the same room as you (albeit socially distant by 6 feet).
Opening up in this time of staying in is more liberating than you may realize…if you have the chance, ask someone that question:
“How are you feeling?”
Both of you will appreciate it more than you know.
What is the 10,000 hour rule? How long is 10,000 hours? Have you blogged for 10,000 hours? How?
This is a “rule” that Malcom Gladwell popularized stating that approximately 10,000 hours of practice are needed to master a skill (in the simplest terms). For now I will ignore the many arguments against this rule. Instead I will focus on the fact that it basically shows that a lot of volume is needed to work towards mastery of anything.
Many circles apply this rule to athletes, pointing to the amount of hours of practice that they need to get to the elite levels of competition or expertise. Volume is not the ONLY factor that contributes towards mastery, but 10,000 hours is widely recognized as a bar that many reach for.
How Long Does That Take?
Some basic math (assuming 2 weeks vacation) showed me that if you put in 40 hours a week, you would reach this mark in 5 years.
10,000 hours / 40 hrs/week = 250 weeks
250 weeks / 50wks/year = 5 years
Is this realistic? Nope.
As a gymnast, growing up, I practiced for 3 hours a day 5-6 days a week (on average). That would put me at about 12-15 years to get to that mark of 10,000 hours.
This lines up well with high school athletes looking to compete in college. If they start young, like I did, they hit that mark just before, or during, college. I won’t go in to the various opinions on whether or not athletes should be multi-disciplinary in their younger years to round out their athletic foundation…I am focused on the raw volume for now.
Applying The Rule to Blogging
Does this mean you should blog full-time?
Why do you think the full-time bloggers are so good?
This was quite a realization for me. Largely because I’m not even close to 10,000 hours of blogging.
However, if you look at blogging as writing, then you can give yourself more credit towards that 10,000 hours. High school was hopefully a time to lay the first building blocks of your writing skills; with college giving you a serious boost towards the reps and volume you can’t avoid when honing a skill.
Let’s assume, for arguments sake, that by the time you have finished college you are at about 4,000 hours. (2 hours/day, 5days/week, for 8 years) While that is very optimistic, you still have 6,000 hours to reach the aforementioned Gladwell benchmark. Seeing as how most successful bloggers start off with a “regular” job and write on the side…let’s say you write for 4 hours per day. (That’s still a ton and probably not realistic for most)
6,000hrs / 20hrs/week = 300 weeks
300wks / 50wks/year = 6 years
6 years post college to become a “good” writer (blogger)!!!
That seems like a lot.
But it’s not. I would bet money that most successful bloggers didn’t find their success for at least that long…if not longer. I wrote about Jason Kottke not long ago and how he was running his website for 7 years before deciding to give blogging full-time a try. He has now been blogging full-time for 15 years and his blog is 22 years old.
Seth Godin…has been doing what he does for almost 30 years. He wrote his first book in 1999…his blog coming later. Talk about volume.
How to Get There
A couple years ago, I was traveling from Memphis to Portland with a connecting flight through Dallas Forth Worth. A cashier in DFW mentioned to me that I appeared to be in good shape and asked if I had any advice for him when it came to putting on muscle.
While the comment and question caught me off guard (because I was in a candy shop of all places), I assumed he was emboldened to ask because of the Crossfit shirt I was wearing.
In an instant, I thought of the thousands of hours of practice and working out I had accumulated for over 30 years. I asked myself, What one thing can I tell this random guy about my lifetime of fitness?
“Consistency man…go to the gym even when you don’t feel like it.”
I said as he handed me my receipt.
I couldn’t tell if the look he gave me said “true, true” or “that was lame” Nevertheless, it was the best piece of ‘gym advice’ I could think of as, ironically, I was walking out with a bag full of gummy bears.
I learned a lot about consistency and self-discipline from my years of gymnastics. Yet, I find I still need these reminders as I work on becoming a better writer:
Becoming a better writer will take time…a few years by my calculations, probably more.
There are no shortcuts…no matter how many Medium articles I read that promise me ‘5 Tips to Becoming a Better Writer’.
Consistency is key…I have to write even when I don’t feel like it.
Now you’ve read this article and learned in 5 minutes what it took me decades to discover.
Knowing these 3 insights alone won’t guarantee your success…but they sure as hell will help.