Why did I start distance running when I was only twelve?
As a lean and almost teenager I decided to crawl out of bed at 6.00 am to start a running regime!
I don’t know what possessed me!
Since early childhood I had suffered asthma and maybe I was looking for a way to remove the constant struggle for breathing through increased cardio fitness. Nevertheless I started.
Back then the shoes were flat Dunlop style volleys with no support and more designed for hanging out with friends than pounding pavement.
Early morning in the dark.
I can still smell the park, see the orange street lights and feel the cold round steel of our gate as I pushed it open and ventured down the pebbled crunching driveway ready to start pounding around the block in my non running shoes. I remember pushing myself so hard some mornings that I threw up.
Then I invited my younger brothers to join me and for a couple of mornings they stumbled out of bed to run with me in the cold and dark. It didn’t last.
It was just me, my legs and a punishing early morning regime.
The journey proved to be an unforgiving experience of pushing and punishing my body. Exploring the boundaries of pain and the screaming of lungs. In looking back it seemed a strange choice. But it came with some benefits. Enjoying the highs of the drug of choice. Exercise endorphins!
What was that about?
A couple of years later I finished in the top 10 in cross country for the state in the school age open age competition while only 14. It had all started with an early morning run before the sun was up.
The question I have is “what is it that drives us?”
This is where we all need to start to succeed in life. Discovering that passion and purpose that drives us from deep inside. For many it is an accident. We stumble upon it during childhood or we collide with it later in life. Some never do and they go to their grave with their song unsung.
But the other day I collided with the future.
I live in a three storey terrace and the downstairs studio is often rented out on Airbnb. The guests that stay are a rich mix of travellers, families and business people. The big bonus is that it provides an opportunity for intriguing intersections with delightful personalities and often I hear their stories and journeys.
One morning a group of four arrived and settled in. It was mum and 3 teenage girls. They were bloggers. Their weekend was a two day WordPress blogging course at the nearby University of Technology. You can imagine we had a “conversation”.
I discovered that “Mum”(also known as Quigley) is a writer and blogger and creates and crafts words at Entrepreneursmum.com. Her blog is about “writing”.
In our first conversation I learned that Zali, Delaney and Harper have their own WordPress blogs. Not at Blogger.com or even Tumblr, but with their own domains and self-hosted at Bluehost.com. They are serious bloggers.
Zali blogs at Misszali.com about fashion, drawing, travel and creating with a few other topics thrown into the mix and started when she was only 9! Delaney loves fashion including hats and mis-matched socks at her blog titled Delaneydays.com. She also finds many other distractions to write about including music, photography and travel. Harper is passionate about the beach, blogging and travelling. Add her love of photography and you have a kaleidoscope of interesting content. You find her at Harperlarper.com.
They are the “connected generation” and they get it. Meeting them was exciting and revealing as to the future of media, personal branding and creativity.
What was also discussed and mentioned was their wish to monetize their blogs in the future.
In chatting with them all it was obvious that their passions in and for life had found an online home. They are on their way to understanding the long term benefits and importance of their regular online content crafting and creation.
They are building a personal digital asset that may define them in the future. It could become their legacy. Employment as we know it may not be necessary.
If their persistence continues then they could have a personal brand that could catapult them to creating a lifestyle that could only have been dreamed about a decade ago. George Bernard Shaw summed it up well:
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself”
Today it is about creating an extension of yourself online. But to achieve that some other things also need to happen, because just creating content won’t be enough.
The passion and purpose
To make it work long term we need to move from a broad range of hobbies and passions to a focused personal brand. You will need to stand for something.
It may require you to take a few steps and it may need some facilitation externally or you may be able to define it by making the time to develop your focus.
One particular approach that provides a simple framework is worth considering. In Porter Gale’s book titled “Your Network is Your Networth” she outlines some steps to discovering your focus.
The 4 steps
- List your passions
- Discover the sweet spot at the intersection
- Describe your tone – Witty, Irreverent, Inspirational etc
- Write the 20 word mission statement that distils your purpose
The final step is being able to write it in a tweetable length of 20 words or less or 140 characters.
Sometimes the next step is the hardest.
Beyond that then the journey is going to need some other elements. Creating that online brand requires a range of soft skills and hard expertise that will arise from crafting, creating and “doing the work”
- Persistence: Many start but stop. Success means keeping at it.
- Consistency: Online publishing and digital asset building requires consistent effort. You will need to think like a publisher that puts out a regular weekly magazine.
- Marketing; Social networks and the new tools of digital marketing have given you the power to reach the world. Learn this skill.
- Continual learning: A social web never stops evolving and you will need to keep up your education.
One brick in the wall
Continuous effort online has great rewards. Google keeps indexing your content and brand. People start having conversation and share your content. This is crowd sourced marketing.
You are creating digital assets online with one piece of content at a time, one tweet after the other and building “earned” search engine authority. It’s one brick in the wall after the other that makes a house.
But if you can project yourself 5 years out into the future to see where you might be then you maybe surprised.
- 2 blog posts a week of 1,000 words is 500 articles and half a million words. Do you think your writing and knowledge will have increased by a big margin in 60 months? It’s also a great legacy and body of work.
- Building your followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by 1,000 a month each would mean that you could have over 180,000 people on your online distribution network. That’s some marketing power that you own.
- Growing an email list of 300 a month would mean that your email list could reach 18,000 in just 5 years. That’s a nice little list to market your brand to when you want without paying or begging for it.
And I haven’t even mentioned connections on LinkedIn, YouTube subscribers and Pinterest followers.
Zali, Delaney and Harper are building their online house and brand one piece of content and follower at a time. I am looking forward to seeing how their journey unfolds.
They are the future of blogging.
What does your brand stand for?
What are your three top passions and can you find that sweet spot? What’s your tone? Can you write down your purpose in a tweet of 140 characters?
Have you started?