Love Letters: to those who won’t know

Photo above of Burning Man 2012 – Balloon Arc, taken by Wolfram Burner

I’m fifty posts in now. I remember distinctly what it felt like to set up this website and start writing. What made me finally do it?

As part of trying to figure this out, I’m looking back to notice the tiny moments that I cumulatively stacked up as ammunition against the Resistance to get this thing off the ground. More than I’d like to admit, I rely on the encouragement of others when I write. I know that I’m not here of my own accord. There were key people in the last 18 months that won’t realise how much they impacted me.

I stand on the shoulders of giants. For Fifty-One, I want to acknowledge those people.

Peter Shepherd, one of my altMBA coaches who went back and read a Reflection Script I’d written. He caught me on my commitment to start writing publicly and sent me this Slack message straight away.

That was the first time I thought, ‘OK, this idea might be crazy and frustrating and a lot of work, but it isn’t stupid.’

Carsten Grimm, who unassumingly during a Zoom call last year said, “The key to a good morning starts in the night before,” and I’ve never been able to get it out of my head. That single phrase set up a new pattern for my weekdays and helped me understand where I would find the time for writing.

Arvind Devalia, who doesn’t know me. Arvind has been blogging for years and took the altMBA in October last year when I was a coach. When a fellow student came to the same conclusion I did, that the volume of writing the altMBA demands was a challenge he enjoyed rising to and that he wanted to start blogging, Arvind stopped by his post to offer some thoughts.

Arvind’s generosity towards this student was nothing short of game-changing for me. As a coach also considering the same questions about where, how, why and what to write, Arvind shone the light in the dark corners I was getting prepared to hide my own inaction in:

How do I set up a website?
What should I write about?
How will I keep going?
What if I run out of things to say?
Who will read my work?
What if I’m really, really bad at this?

I saved Arvind’s advice and brought it out when I knew it was time to get going. There were many hidden gems about how to do this practically, but over the year, I’ve taken most comfort in this:

“I’ve written and published 602 blog posts – and though most of them are mediocre, I believe about 150 are excellent and about 25 are outstanding.”

If Arvind’s hit rate is applicable outside his blog, there are two outstanding posts in here. It’s comforting to know that every post doesn’t have to be “The Best”. It can just be. And no-one puts that more into practice than the marvellous…

Seth Godin: the wise, bespectacled man who blogs every day. He’s well over 7500 posts in. Why has he been doing this for the last twenty years, for free? Because, “Over time, the blog adds up. People remember a blog post a year after I wrote it. Or they begin a practice, take an action, make a connection, something that grows over time. The blog resonates with people in so many fields, it’s thrilling to see how it can provoke positive action.”

The cumulative impact of not only his content, but seeing Seth post every single day showed me the answers to some of the questions I had above.

Being consistently incredible isn’t possible; that’s not what our audience are looking for. The only way to get to a ‘good idea’ is through all the bad ones. So just keep pressing that buzzer. We don’t know what’s going to land, and we don’t know what’s going to take on a life of its own. That’s the beauty of releasing a piece of art out into the world.

He’s also a staunch believer in learning by doing. That’s what this has been.

To the old friends and new friends who reach out when they want to discuss what I’ve written – thank you. You make the next piece even stronger.

To my best friend who’s read every word on here, thank you for caring.

To JCB, who didn’t laugh when I told him what I wanted to do on the way home from Sumner Beach last year, and who unfailingly asks, ‘How did your writing go this morning?’, thank you.

To the sunrises I’ve seen this year, who show up in all their glory without even trying, thank you.

To the authors I’ve read, who’ve helped me understand that any creative pursuit starts with cultivating discipline, thank you. You’ve taught me that what I write about is not me. It’s simply my job to nurture an idea until it’s time to let it out into the world.

“Not I, not I, but the wind that blows through me.”

– D. H. Lawrence

And to the woman who is learning what it is to call herself a writer, thank you for showing up each morning. If she knows what it takes to get to fifty posts, she knows what it takes to get to one hundred.

Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

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