Elbow Room – Fighting for Your Space

planeI’m sitting on a plane headed for Dallas. The guy next to me has been passively fighting me for the armrest. You know what I’m talking about. He slowly pressures my elbow and moves his arm to cover more and more of the armrest. Trying to edge me out of the space we’re meant to share. Don’t worry, I’m plenty stubborn. I hold my ground. Over time, he relents and reluctantly shares the space. Hey, I’m not the one who chose a middle seat. Don’t blame me if you don’t have much space, but at least be willing to share it. Or speak up and say what you want. Don’t be passive about it.

The world is packed full of noise. There are messages coming at us in every direction. You’ve got something to say, but you’re not being heard. You’re being edged out. Pushed around. People are taking your space. And you’re letting them. You think to yourself, “But if what I have to say is really important people will find and promote me.” Really? You’re serious? Oh, you are. Yikes! So, you’ve bought in to the viral videos of a father and daughter singing some cute song thinking that’s the way you’ll be discovered. Really? You’ve banking on someone finding you in the overpopulated world of voices and suddenly promoting you to stardom?

Here’s what I’ve been learning from Seth Godin (author of several amazing books…note side menu for some of them). There are less talented people who are more effective than you. There are less intelligent people making far more money than you. There are less disciplined people accomplishing more than you. There are worse writers gaining more popularity for their books than you are for yours. There are shallow blogs getting more traffic than your deep and thoughtful words. It’s not fair. Or is it? Information is a free market. Everyone has a chance to create a following. Barriers to entry are at an all time low. It’s as fair as it will ever be. Now, it’s up to you to have something to say and to learn how to say it in a way that connects with others.  Don’t think your conviction precludes you from mastery of not only your craft, but also the medium in which you deliver.

I have a lot to learn about blogging. I enjoy writing, but a blog is more than just a blank page and I’m really new to it. When I began I had only words on my blog. I thought adding too many photos was dumbing it down. The truth is, I was really dumb about blogs. I still am in most ways. I wanted what I have to say to be more important than how I say it. That’s like saying, “I only speak monotone because inflection devalues my message.” That’s ridiculous. If anything, inflection and nonverbals are as much, if not more, of the message as the content itself. The same goes for blogging. The words are merely the message. Images, format, social media, connection, etc are the equivalent of nonverbal cues and tonality.

So, fight for your space, but do it by learning and mastering your craft rather than passively waiting to be discovered.

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