If You’re Not Falling…

skiingI learned to ski late in life.

To get my girlfriend (now wife) back into normal activity after her house burned down, my friends suggested I take her skiing. Julie skied before the fire and they figured she’d enjoy getting back to it. I, however, hate the cold and the idea of purposely going out in the cold was not appealing to me at all, but I did it anyway. I loved it!

We began skiing regularly and would spend a long weekend in Vermont every year with a large group of friends at a ski-in-ski-out home in Killington. One of those friends, Dave, was an excellent skier who had grown up in Colorado and even tried out for the US Olympic team. Dave became the coach for all of us amateurs.

I was getting quite good feeling comfortable on some black diamond runs but I was still falling more often then I wanted to. When I expressed my frustration to Dave he said, “If you aren’t falling, you aren’t learning.”

I was pushing myself to get better and when you take chances like that, not all of them work out. I could have taken it easy, stayed at the level I was at and never fallen again, but that didn’t appeal to me.

Coasting, resting on my laurels, in other aspects of life also doesn’t appeal to me. Constant improvement, trying new things, living life as an adventure, those things do appeal to me but sometimes I fall.

Falling is not fun but neither is stagnating. I’ll take the occasional fall if that means I’m getting better. Are you willing to fall once in a while?

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The Fun of Discovery

Learning new things is fun. I may not have had that attitude in school but I wasn’t in control of what I was learning, just whether I was learning. Being in control of your own destiny elevates learning from a requirement to a desire. Now I investigate what interests me. I often have preconceived notions but I’ll still investigate and learn before making a final decision.

As I try to get the word out about my book I’ve turned to the various and ever expanding social media like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Of those I felt Twitter was, well, stupid. What kind of updates would I post and who would care? Why 140 characters? It just seemed kind of stupid. But I tried anyway. One aspect of Twitter that puzzled me was the hashtags (words preceded by the # symbol). I didn’t get it.

Learning how to use each social media app has been interesting but when discovery surprises you, turns a prejudice around, that’s really cool. It turns out that Twitter is the most social of the social media, with the most active users, but also the most robust conversations (in 140 character or less). Those hashtags I didn’t understand turned out to be the key to the community of twitter. Using a hashtag and then searching that term allows you to follow conversations in real time as each participant contributes.

So far, and I’m still very new at this, my favorite Tweetchats as these hashtag conversations are called are #leadfromwithin (leadership), #mcchat (personal finance), #wbchat (personal finance), #ubusensations (leadership), and #moolah (personal finance). Check them out. It will be the fastest hour you’ve ever spent online.

It’s still too early to tell whether I’ve sold more books because of my activity on social media but I have gained a lot from the connections I’ve made and that is much more valuable.

Share your favorite tweetchats for others to discover.

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As a writer, as someone who has put a lot of time and effort into writing a book, I want people to read it. I’d be really happy if they also got some value out of it. To that end I’ve been reading about how to promote the book, how to sell the book, how to get people to read my blog, etc. etc. etc.

Through all of that effort however, I’ve discovered people who I want to read, who have books that they are trying to sell and who are looking for the same things I am. There are way more of us out there and yet we’re a relatively small group.

When I joined a “platform building campaign” organized by a woman with a blog called Rach Writes a few days ago, my intention was to get exposure for my blog and book. The beauty of the internet is that a lot of interesting people put a lot of interesting stuff out there. Regardless of how much exposure I get I’m glad to have found Sam de la Pena, his brief story on his about me page resonated with me. Jolene Stockman, who lives in New Zealand (the internet has no borders), has a book called “Total Blueprint for Wold Domination” that I wish was around when I was a teen. Suffering through a cold on a holiday weekend I clicked a link that took me to a blog by Alana Saltz who I learned from a tweet also has a cold. Alana has changed my outlook on the term self-publishing. There are more people interested in writing memoirs then I would have imagined. My feeling was always who would want to read about me unless I’m famous but finding these people renews my belief that we all have stories to tell. I thank Stacy S. Jensen for that realization.

My original goal in all of this was learning how to get people to find my book and then buy it and I think a blog called :Dandilyon Fluff will be very helpful in that respect.

I emphasize the power of discovery in my book and I have learned anew the power of wandering around in unknown places. The internet is a wonderful land of discovery.

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Be Curious

One common trait among successful people is curiosity but I believe a lot of people are not curious enough.

My day job at a television network has been as an instructor teaching the various levels of staff to use new technology. From cameras to satellite transmission, technology has made everything more interactive, more computer-like. A common theme I see among the students however is a lack of experimentation, a lack of curiosity.

Sony Z5uTake the example of a camera that has several variables controlling exposure, the brightness of the image. I see students change one variable and, when they don’t get the desired effect, they often stop or give up. There are other options but instead of trying them out, instead of experimenting, they simply stop.

My innate curiosity leads me to touch and change more things than I probably should but that’s not a bad thing. Experimentation is necessary for learning especially in a classroom setting and yet so many of the students are unwilling to risk messing up that they never get it right.

I see a lot of people in life who are afraid to try new things to take a risk. An entrepreneur you meet in my book, Scott Loughmiller, says that people often “see massive risk where there is only moderate, and no risk where there is a significant amount.” Most people are poor risk managers.

Successful people take risks but manage them so that one mistake doesn’t derail the whole project. Successful people are curious and touch all the buttons and change all the dials in an effort to understand and to learn. So be curious! That risk isn’t as big as you think!

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