Tuesday, July 13, 2010

It's All About Your OWN Blood, Sweat, and Tears...Not THEIRS

Recently, Brazen Careerist featured a blog post by one Jun Loayza. In brief, he talks about embracing one's DNA. In other words, not forcing yourself to be something you are not. To make the best uses of whatever your personal traits are in order to succeed in all aspects of life. Because this view is very much in line with the premise of Too XYZ, I suggest you give this post a read. Here it is.

On top of Mr. Loayza's point, I would add that we need to measure our level of "hard work", and that of others, according to similar metrics.

In other words nobody likes a lazy person. We all are rightly expected to in general put some effort into our lives. But sometimes in this society we tend to measure that effort in terms of direct productivity as defined by the ingrained, (and in my view, destructive) Protestant Work Ethic. Too often we ignore the intangible work, the unseen internal efforts that are a part of the daily lives of many people, as well as ourselves.

Explore an example with me.

Let's say someone has started a new blog. A working mother of 3 school aged kids. Obviously they take up a lot of her time in the evening, and work takes up all of her day. But she is committed to having a regularly updated blog, with a post every other day. So on those days she gets up two hours early, say around 4AM. The family is still asleep. She hates being awake too, but it's her only time to be alone with her thoughts.
So she struggles to be awake that early. She checks her notes. Thinks very hard about that morning's post, and with an obvious struggle to complete every single sentence of that post, and after meticulously proofreading it twice, she clicks "Submit" just as the call of her youngest asking for breakfast reaches her ears at 6AM.

Our mom figure is obviously a bit more tired at the end of that day than other days.

She's not on Twitter. She hasn't joined Brazen Careerist. Knows little about advertising or marketing or networking. Barely has enough energy to write the post. A post which in and of itself was what some may call of average quality, but with a certain witty, down to earth charm. Analytics, (if she ever used them or even knew what they were) would tell her that 2 people in the world read the post with which she struggled so much this morning, and one of them was probably her sister down town.

A check of her subscribers shows that same sister, one random guy without a photo, and her best friend, who never checks the blog anyway. This mother therefore has ZERO so called "social proof", and even if some professional guru by chance stumbled across her blog, they would say, "well if only three people subscribed she must be a lazy, thoughtless writer. Who cares about wasting my time on this trash?"

And they would click off, not even bothering to see if she had anything of interest to say. Certainly leaving no comments. As few people ever do on our mom's blog.

But because she either doesn't want to know all of this, or can't know all of this because social media is beyond her, our mom 2 days later is up once again at 4AM to do it all over again. And she does so because she is committed to becoming a blogger and improving her writing.

According to the majority of metrics out there to measure success, this woman is a total failure as a blogger. Where are the tie ins? What SEO person has she hired? Why are there not Twitter feeds mentioning her latest post? Who is she linking to? More importantly who ever linked to her? How many comments does she have? How many subscribers? She needs a serious graphic designer at 100 bucks an hour to clean up this mess of a website. She doesn't even own her own domain name. Lazy and uninspired woman.

Whereas I see someone who is pushing their personality, their very nature to the limits, in order to do something she believes in. She isn't trying to be something she is not. She is simply going the extra mile with what she has in order to improve something about herself. She has put forth a great deal of energy, her own personal type of energy, to do what she does. This is hard for her to do. But she does it anyway, and in this she is a hard working writer and blogger. A blogger as much as anybody else is. More so even then some more "successful" ones.

I try to measure my own work ethic by these standards. I go and do things that are just barely part of my make up. Things that are a struggle for me, even if they are easy for others. I don't do all of what many contemporaries say I should do as a writer, a blogger, an actor, because that would be trying to become something I am not. But some of the things I can do, I often sweat over. Become drained by. Sometimes I am even afraid of them. But I do them. And while that results based Protestant Work Ethic would look at the overall tangible results of my last year and say, "lazy failure", I know that I am actually putting forth a great deal of effort that is unique to me in order to go where I want to go. It's not easy to ignore the societal definition of hard work, but I must try to do so. We all must try to do so. Do you?

3 comments:

Jamie said...

Hmmm...a couple comments on this:

It is "assumed" (I know...if we 'assume', it makes an ASS out of u and me)...but it is a general business 'assumption' that tangible productivity is a result of hard work + intangible productivity. Using your example in the blog...I agree that the 'mother' is not a failure...however, I would not say she is a "success" either. Only SHE can define what "success" is. I believe the crux of your entire post proves that only YOU can decide when you are successful or not; and we shouldn't look to outside standards to decide.

Going back to your 4 AM 'mother'...She has achieved "successful" hard work, right? She has shown she is committed. However, she apparently has not done her "research". I would say she has 'failed' to research the best ways to communicate her blogging ideas and posts, but again - not that she is a failure. That said, if the "mother's goal" is 'write 1 posting / day' and that is her only ultimate goal - then she is a success. Defined by her own objective.

On the second note - again, I think this comes down to how we define laziness and hard work, but that said; I would certainly consider indiviudals traits / personality.

Using myself as an example; I work less now than I've ever worked in my life and feel like I'm being completely lazy all the time. I hate it, but trying to keep myself disciplined / not working as much. Because my "personality" is "go, go, go", I don't sleep much, and I like to figure things out / work on businesses (for fun), I'm currently 'working' about 35/40 hours / week. Most people would say, "that's the norm - that's not lazy". However, because of MY personality type - I enjoy and am used to working 70 hours weeks - it is definitely lazy to me.

Ty Unglebower said...

Jamie...

You kind of prove my point. Why isn't she a success? Is it simply because she has not (or COULD not) do for her blog what you and I would/could do with our own?

I don't believe that hard work will always yield what most business models would call tangible results. If that were the case, everyone who works hard would be out of debt and wealthy.

For me, hard work is, in and of itself, something for which people should be judged. (If that hard work does not keep people afloat, that's a social issue, and a topic for another post entirely.) But if I start judging people by how many widgets they have produced, many people just aren't going to make the cut. And many who don't deserve to make it, will.

If however the credit I give is related to an understanding that people are doing the very best they can, I can give more credit to more people. And condemn fewer. Because I know that they are working hard at what they are doing.

We don't know why the mom is my example cannot do all of the things you and I would be able or willing to do with our blogs. We may never know. But the reasons are there, and I prefer to judge her commitment to her craft based on how hard she is working...not on some rather subjective widget count.

Buzen Media said...

Very touching mom story indeed. I can attest to the part of really working hard but only getting 2 views for a post. I do that too.. honestly. Maintaining blogs that are not getting views, only because it's who I am. I want to do it. Regardless if someone clicks it or not.