Smile. A call from a client starts with, “Where are all of these people coming from? What do I do now?” It happens the majority of the time. We build a blog or a site or, to use the current jargon, a social media platform, and they’re finding friends and fans they didn’t know existed. Success happens and they all accomplished the first step in handling it: they recognized it. Recognizing success can be hard after months or years of bad news. Humans engrain habits. We practice behaviours as survival techniques, but when the situation changes we must change. For me, that may involve a self-imposed slap to the forehead, or a prolonged moment with a confused look on my face. It may look silly, but if looking silly is what’s necessary to change to a good habit, then silly may be the key to success. Relaxing may be enough, and easier.
March was a tough month. It was so tough that I actually had to drop my Rule of 7 and take a day or two off. I might even take tomorrow off. Imagine that, me not working on a Sunday. It wasn’t tough because it was all bad news. There was good news in there too. The mix was what made it tough. My emotional clutch wore out as my internal transmission switched from funerals to windfalls, from disappointments to encouragements, from too many highs to too many lows. As one friend put it, I accomplished more in the last few months than most folks she knows. As I suspect my mortgage company would put it, that wasn’t enough. Even now I feel a bit like a warrior who has returned home victorious to find the farmhouse leaning and the livestock walking through the gaps in the fences.
I enjoy consulting. It is one of those things I would do for free if I had the time and didn’t need the money. On a biological level I don’t need the money, but the government, the utilities, and the mortgage company won’t accept any other payment. The majority of the people I work with are folks that actively working to change their lives. They recognize their potential, but may not know how to get from here to their goal. Sometimes that requires help making strategic choices, sometimes it takes a program plan, sometimes it requires building a public presence. That public presence is the most fun to watch. Strategies and plans are powerful, but a blog or a web site can be immediate.
Welcome to my blog. I appreciate it when you also take the time to visit the rest of the site and my online galleries. Traffic continues to build, doubling in less than a year, or so. (The line isn’t smooth, so it is hard to measure the growth exactly.)
Welcome to the latest client’s blog (Reaching Out). She was recently laid-off, decided to take it as an opportunity instead of a strife, and is building a community with the other folks who were laid off. The blog is less than a week old and her site already has more traffic than mine. “What do I do now?” Step one: celebrate success. Step two: keep doing what you’ve been doing. Step three (especially in social media): don’t try to control it. Social media is less about the media and more about the social. People are dropping by. Have a party. Considering the size of the internet, the online party may be unimaginably large. If so, say thank you to the crowd.
It is too easy to treat good news with suspicion. Analyze intensely enough and ultimately base motivations are revealed. Doesn’t everything reduce to food, shelter, and family? Or was it sex, drugs, and rock and roll? Depth is valuable, but don’t dig so deep that the all the good leaks out. The good is the building material for the future.
By the way, good ideas can also be argued into submission. A while back I sketched a ship that would begin the Herculean task of cleaning plastic from the ocean. I was amazed at the response of those that undermined the concept because it would somehow encourage the continued use of plastic. What? We’re supposed to pick up after ourselves & not litter. How many solutions are dismissed because critics only talked about the costs or imagined implications, not the benefits?
Our world is recovering from the Dismal Decade. Our attitudes were trained to challenge things that were otherwise innocuous: shoes, underwear, little bottles of liquids. Every open public space is a probable stage for security cameras. Every use of an electronic device may be tracked and monitored. No wonder when something different, something non-Dismal, occurs that a first response is cautious and suspicious. Sometimes an offer to help is an offer to help. Ulterior motives can always be imagined, but that’s because we are an imaginative species. What really happened? People visited a blog. Someone offers to help.
I’d like to list my good news, but it is hard to do. Partly it is because much of the news is of potentials. Some recent job possibilities are fascinating, but they aren’t guaranteed, take weeks to come to fruition, and are being kept quiet. Much of my life, and many of my communications involve discretion. Entrepreneurs hold onto plans until the right time to reveal them. Nuances take too many words to describe. In the meantime, I quietly wait. There is good news that is easy to pass along without worry about discretion or guarantees. My most recent book, Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland, which is selling well in the US and the UK. Sales are enough to pay a bill or two each month. Some readers are then moving onto my other books. That’s the sort of action that can make an author a living. My photos also have a new and improved home. Fine Balance Imaging, the printer I use for all of my fine art work, just opened a new set of online galleries. They do good work. Visit, shop, and buy!
I also know that I’ve received so much bad news over the last two years that sometimes my good news takes a while to sink in. I don’t think I’ve turned down any legitimate job offers or such (and yes, there were some legally questionable ones), but I do know that some compliments went unacknowledged, and that everyday beauty has been overlooked. So, tomorrow is a training session for myself. A day when I will be consultant and client. My homework will be to reflect and emphasize the good, and to train myself to a return to success, whatever form it takes. Paper and pen will be involved, and maybe some looking in the mirror.
In a rare writing digression, I will deviate from paragraphs and conclude with what might be a poem.
Don’t fear it.
Don’t push it.
But, be there
to steer it.
PS (And as an example of challenging myself, I dropped back here to edit in a line of very good news. Several people have told me that I am inspirational. It isn’t in my nature, or my habits, to mention that; but, maybe that’s the sort of thing I have to write here, so I hear it in my head, heart, and soul. Humility says say nothing; but maybe recognizing that about myself is worth more. Changing habits is a scary thing to do.)