We made it! Today marks 365 days of posting daily.*
This post is to mark the day and kick off a week** of celebration… and to say thanks for everyone who’s read, encouraged and contributed along the way – you know who you are.
And you know, or course, that encouragement and contribution go a long way to making things keep on happening and stuff keeping on getting done. Onwards and upwards!
* For those who came in late… it started here.
**Okay, a post or two.
And do you trust that the people you’re following can get you there?
Have they been there before?
Has anyone been there before?
For interesting work, there probably isn’t a map of the route, so you’ll looking for:
- People who have been to similar places
- People who have been part of the way
- A cohort of fellow travellers
- Compasses, not maps
Try playing keepy uppies with your projects:
- Do something every day, however small, to move them on and keep them alive
- Find friends for the project – people doing similar work, people interested in what you’re working on – and maintain a conversation about what you’re learning
- Keep half of your free moments empty – moments when you’d pick up your phone, snatch five minutes reading a blog or book or watch a video – and think about your project, keeping your head in the game
- When you learn something new, take the time to think about (or even better, articulate clearly and write down) how it might apply to your project
The ball’s in your court – keep it in the air.
Some ideas for strengthening your connections within a group of people or scene:
- Have good, generous intentions. Show up to serve or share where it’s needed and wanted and because being part of this network is its own reward (you like the people, you like what they do), rather than for what you might get out of it.
- Start small – person by person. It’s helpful to think of the group as a network of people rather than as a a monolithic whole.
- Relationships and trust take time – but the right group settings or events can speed this up.
- First impressions always count – but not nearly as much as what you do and say consistently over time. People who know and trust you will interpret you generously and shrug off the clumsy mistakes that we all inevitably make as just that – understandable, human clumsiness. People who love you will stick with you through your real mistakes – the ones where you should have known better.
- Build on connections – friendships, relationships – that you already have.
- Lots of loose connections are helpful – relationships where you know them a bit, they know you a bit, and you share a general positive regard for each other. Each loose connection is like a single hook-and-loop in a piece of velcro – weak on its own, but strong when combined with many others. (see also: gecko feet)
- … but the 80/20 rule will be at work here – a few people will be very interested in your contribution, and a few of those will be people you have a good rapport with… and a few of those will be key for helping you to connect with others.
- Don’t worry too much about people who aren’t that interested in you or what you have to offer: they’re either genuinely not interested, or have something else on their minds, neither of which you can do very much about. Assume that you can’t do too much to influence them (apart, perhaps, if you can help them with their thing, the thing that’s on their minds) – but they might be influenced by the right sort of champion from within the network.
You can only carry the can so far.
If you started an organisation or business and the buck ultimately stops with you and no-one else, you need to make it a priority to find some friends to share the load. Find people who will make what you’re doing theirs as well as yours, own it and take responsibility for its continuation and success.
Ideally, you need more than one friend: as Clay Shirky points out in this excellent set of videos about network theory, three people in conversation is fundamentally different from two. If one side of a two-person conversation leaves, the conversation stops. With three people in the conversation (or more), people can leave and be replaced, and the conversation continues. In fact, every single participant can change, and it can still be the same conversation.
If you’re a free-lancer, and one day you can deliver your last piece of work, get paid, and close up shop, then you need friends for a different reason. But if you’re building something bigger than yourself – especially if it’s in service of a cause – you’ll soon have responsibility for other people’s work and salaries, and it will get old fast if you’re alone at the top.