Yesterday I wrote about the problem of blogger inferiority complex and how often as bloggers we can limit our potential by defining ourselves negatively.
Today I want to get a little more constructive and suggest a remedy for this common problem. In doing so I want to help those of us who struggle with a negative self view to make a mind-shift in our thinking.
How do you become more positive in the way that you think about yourself and your blog?
Today I want to suggest two starting points in tackling this problem. Tomorrow I’ll wrap up this mini-series with a third.
1. Identify What You Have:
There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to be something that you’re not, learn something that you don’t know or achieve something that you’ve not achieved before – however sometimes when we’re focusing upon what we don’t have we lose sight of the very thing that could be the key to us going to the next level – what we do have.
When I was in my late teens and early 20’s I spent a lot of time worrying about what I didn’t have and comparing myself to others. As I look back on the way that I lived my life at this time I realized that the motivation for many of the things that I did was that I wanted to be like someone else. The result was a complete mess. I ended up spending so much of my time aspiring to be or have something that those around me were or had that I stopped being Darren.
The realization that I came to was that defining myself by what I didn’t have or by what someone else was wasn’t working. What I did find that worked however was defining myself by who actually was and starting with what I already had.
I went through a process with a small group of friends of rediscovering myself, learning what my strengths were, identifying my passions, reflecting upon the experiences that I had had and looking at what I’d learned. I found that as I began to focus more upon these positive things that I became more positive.
As bloggers I think that many of us need to make this same mind-shift and focus less upon what we don’t have and more upon what we do – and then to build from there.
Are You Focusing More Upon What You’re Not than What You Are as a Blogger?
Firstly, let me say that you’re not alone.
Secondly let me suggest a series of questions that you might like to set aside some time to reflect upon to help you rediscover who you are as a blogger:
1. What has Worked On Your Blog? – Sometimes the key to your success is something that you’ve already done that had a spark of energy to it but which still needs a little more work. Look back over the blog posts that you’ve written and identify those that ‘worked’. It might be those that got linked to by another blog or two, it might be a post that got a few extra comments or it could be something that you enjoyed more than other posts even if no one else noticed. Once you’ve identified some of these posts ask yourself why they worked. Is there a common theme or some identifiable lessons that you can learn that you might emulate again?
2. What do you know about? – A great way to answer this one is to think about the questions that people ask you and seek advice from you on. What knowledge and expertise have you gathered in your life so far?
3. What things do you love to talk about? – What topic do your conversations always turn to? Not sure? Ask a close friend what they think your ‘pet topic’ is. What do conversations keep coming back to you no matter how hard they try to change the topic? These topics are obviously things that you have some passion for – perhaps they are what you should be blogging about.
4. What formative experiences have you had? – Often the things that make us most interesting are the things we’ve done in our past. The places you’ve been, the jobs you’ve had, the study that you’ve done, the people that you’ve met etc. Don’t just think about the positive experiences but some of the hard ones too because sometimes it’s through the most painful times of life that we discover purpose and learn lessons that shape our future.
5. Who do you know? – Don’t focus upon the bloggers you don’t know – start with those you do. What have you studied formally? What have you read about? What have you gathered knowledge on in your work, recreation, friendship groups?
6. What readers do you have? – it’s easy to focus upon the thousands of readers that you don’t have, but what about those that you do? Even if you only have 3 and one of them is your Mother – you’ve got people logging into your blog every day to read what you have to say! Not only that, they each have a network of relationships that they could potentially tell about your blog.
7. What problems do you have? What problems have you overcome? – one of the most powerful things that you can do as a blogger is to help people solve problems. The problems that you are best equipped to solve are those that you have had (or have) that you’re overcoming for yourself.
8. What have you achieved? – achievements are not everything but they can certainly be helpful when you’re blogging because you can draw upon them or the lessons you learned in them in your writing. Don’t just focus on the big achievements either – sometimes the small things we’ve done are most important.
9. What sets you apart? – sometimes we focus upon our differences as negatives – but how could they be used for your own good? We operate in a medium where there are millions of others competing for attention – being different is good. It might be how you look, it might be how you live your life, it could be where you live or some other aspect of your life that you’ve been getting down on yourself about. How can you ‘flip it’ to your advantage?
10. What type of personality do you have? – you are wired a certain way – so identify how that is and learn to work to it’s strengths. If you’re a quiet, introverted and reflective person, let your blogging reflect this with posts that are a little more reflective and thoughtful. If you’re loud, brash and opinionated – go with that too! If you can make people laugh – do that in your blogging! Don’t try to be someone that you’re not – start with who you are.
11. What Resources do you have? – what do you have at your disposal that you can use in your blogging? I started out blogging on a 10 year old PC that crashed after 30 minutes of running and dial-up internet connection… and that’s a lot more than many bloggers have. I know bloggers who would answer this question with the answer that they have a membership in a local library that gives them 30 minutes internet connection every weekday. Rather than looking at what you don’t have in terms of tools and resources – start with what you do have and build from there. It might be a computer, internet connection, video or digital camera, a MP3 recorder… or it could be friendship with people who do.
Identifying some of the things that you DO have can be an uplifting experience. While we might be naturally drawn to answer the above questions with negativity – force yourself to look at the positives for a little bit and make a list of what you have. But it doesn’t end there….
2. Build upon what you have
Identifying what you do have is a very worthwhile exercise – but it’s not enough if you want to grow to your potential.
The key to the lives of many successful people that I’ve met is that they take what they do have (as meager as that may be) and turn it into something worthwhile by building it.
- It might be taking a simple skill and doing it until they’re blue in the face
- It might be taking a passion and hunch and following it to see where it leads
- It might be taking a simple resource and using it for all it’s worth
For me as a blogger is was like this:
I started out with:
- a dodgy computer and dialup internet access
- an interest and a little knowledge in photography (I’d studied it as a 16 year old for a semester)
- some spare time in the evenings when I wasn’t working one of my 3 part time jobs or studying
- a little experience in communicating
- half a degree in Marketing (I quit half way – my only other training was in Theology)
- a little experience of blogging on a personal blog
I took that muddled collection of things and began to blog about digital cameras. I made a lot of mistakes but I became more and more determined to take what I did have and to build upon it. As a result things began to grow.
The Story Continues – But First…. Some Homework
As I said above – tomorrow I’m going to finish this series with one more tip for overcoming Blogger Inferiority Complex. I was going to include it in this post but I think that before getting to the last suggestion it’d be well worth pondering the first two steps.
While you wait for the last part in the series take a little time out today to work through them – particularly the series of 11 questions that I suggested and pondering how you can build on them. I’d love to hear what you discover!