Florence, Italy, May 2008 – Looking down at Arno river from Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), I was mesmerized by this simple sight: A young crew of Italian children hard at work, learning the concept of team work. If even one of them stops rowing, the shared momentum is lost and the camaraderie comes into question. What a simple drill to teach a grand lesson and what lucky children to learn this lesson so early on. Here’s hoping they will remember this when they need it most in life!
On Supporting your Community:
Of the 100 lessons I wrote about life and blogging (the 100th post on Prolific Living), one in particular has been resurfacing again and again, that of constantly giving back to our community. The simple widespread acceptance of this idea surrounds us in everything we do; it’s not news to any of us. What surprises me is the measure of its rewards when this giving back is applied to the blogging community.
In all my interactions with dozens upon dozens of bloggers around the world, I am always astounded by this flow of positive energy and camaraderie. The support and encouragement of bloggers for one another is at the core of this community’s foundation and you never feel alone! By support, I don’t mean a little shout-out or a quick response to your cry for help; I mean genuine, persistent and sincere support and assistance when you need that push to get you over your hurdle!
What an amazing community of compassionate, smart, hard-working and ambitious writers and creators! No matter how super busy we all are, helping someone else never seems to be a low priority. It is the solid shared belief that paves the way for bloggers day in and day out. To think that all of this model behavior is driven by individuals themselves, not by policies, bosses, orders, guidelines or incentives, now that is the formula to a successful and brilliant community (an idea quite creatively illustrated in this video).
So whatever your community, be it a book club, health group, sports team, work environment, dancers, singers, musicians, or any other association of family and friends with a common passion, if you are striving for an environment like the blogging community, exploit these traits to the fullest, give back and be a true team member and take ownership of the health and direction of your community.
On Giving, Giving and more Giving:
At the beginning, I would be the one on the receiving end of all this, unable to immediately return favors except with my overflowing expressions of gratitude. Slowly, I have been finding small ways to give back and support other bloggers in their endeavors; funny enough and much to my surprise (again), giving beats receiving any day of the week! The many, many happy returns from striking up conversations, offering help, doing an interview, engaging in a joint project, supporting a new or experienced blogger in an effort, sharing skills and expertise, all of these reaffirm the essence of blogging for me.
I used to read business books all the time (until I fell in love with the classics) and the takeaways from Keith Ferrazzi’s “Never Eat Alone” come to mind here. I repeat his advice for you as I repeated them in my interview with Hulbert Lee of From Bottom Up when he asked me for advice on being prepared for life’s challenges. Build a support system, I told him, a network, a group of friends, peers, colleagues, a community essentially – and think of only one thing: Giving, giving and giving. The returns will find you in due time when you are among the right group of people.
In the corporate world, there is a phrase WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) and you must fulfill this for all stakeholders when you write your value-proposition on a business case. Oh well, I choose to ignore that guideline loudly and clearly for blogging; mirroring Keith Ferrazzi’s advice on networking, I think only of what I can give to grow and nourish this fabulous community.
Think only of giving to your community. When and if the day comes when you may need support, you will be surrounded with it. If that day never comes, you are more than compensated from the joy of simply helping others be successful. You simply can’t lose! Remember success is not a zero-sum game; there is more than enough of it to go around for everyone!
On Guest Posting and Contributing:
Guest posting is when a blogger writes a post for another blog or website and I simply love doing it but only with the right mindset.
Why do you guest post, contribute to other blogs or engage in forums? To get your name and brand out there and to receive traffic and hits on your site in return? To boost your vanity and ego a healthy notch or two? To share your knowledge and expertise? Maybe a nice combination of all of these plus more motives not listed here. It’s great to have reasons behind what we do, and I do believe there is virtue in ambition, selfishness and a healthy dose of ego.
Great, all that said, consider this: What if you produce a superb guest article after a dozen hours of hard work and do the reasonable marketing to get the word out about your sincerely valuable content and the reaction is complete silence? No comments. No hits. No Tweets. No Likes. No whatever-else-social-media-hot-buzz is going on during that day, that month, that season. What then?
I think the answer is that it really should not matter. Your reasons for writing and contributing to other blogs should be independent of circumstance and therefore void of disappointment and full of joy. If you write for the sole purpose of contributing and sharing your stories and expertise and giving to your community, you essentially make disappointment impossible.
The only viable option from this mindset and perspective is to come out a winner and you are one simply by the act of giving and contributing!
Write because you really, really want to write. Really believe it and act by it in your heart. Exercise detachment to the consequences. The reaction can be warm and rewarding and embrace it if it comes your way but remember it is just a passing phase. You should satiate in the act of giving and contributing and building your community. Let that alone be your gift and your reward.
Give because you love to give
Write because you love to write
Share your stories because you feel compelled to share them
Aim to impact only one person and let that be enough; more will follow in due time
Let these be your convictions and you will make disappointment an impossible outcome and everything extra is sugar on top!
It is in that spirit that I write and engage with and delight in the blogging community. Here is a selection of some of my guest posts and the fabulous people who gave me a kind opportunity to contribute to their sweet corner of cyberspace – thank you!
- On Journal of Cultural Conversation blog titled So Where Are You From?
- On Timeless Information blog titled Balancing the Art of Attachment to Materialism
- On Dragos Roua – Brilliantly Better blog titled What can Argentine Tango teach you about Brilliant Blogging?
- On Steven Aitchison blog titled The Irrational Fear of Public Speaking and 10 Ways to Overcome It
- On Jonathan Wells blog titled Full Presence Stomps Multi-Tasking
- On From Bottom Up, a fun audio interview podcast of Prolific Living by blogger Hulbert Lee.