Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Reclaiming This Space

So, this is an article all about how, life got flipped turned upside down...  No, wait, nevermind.  Bad idea.

Seriously though, I was about to try and put some preface onto this to take the sting off, so I can tell myself that people were warned and if they unsubscribe then that's their deal, not mine.

So forget the preface, here's the deal: I want my blog back.

Six years ago, I started this blog after being laid off and confronting a life-changing hurricane challenge.  Not to be a business, not to teach anybody anything, but just to say random stuff.  Talk things out.  Explore new ideas, new lifeforms, and new ways of getting things done...  to boldly go where no split infinitives had gone before.

And because nobody was reading the thing, and because it wasn't connected with a business, I felt free to rant about whatever I wanted, make stupid jokes about random stuff, and even review funny reality shows.

And most importantly, I didn't feel like something had to be awesome before I posted it.  That I didn't need to have some kind of Important Point to make or Principle To Teach.

Back then, this was just a place for me to type my thoughts into the computer, so I could see what I thought about something.

Somewhere along the line though, I started getting popular.  Or at least, people were paying attention to me.

And in retrospect, it's kind of surprising (and sad) how much I let that affect me.  Pretty soon I'd plugged that into half a dozen or so of my neuroses about Not Disappointing People, and needing to be Taken Seriously as an Important Person, and, well...  the actual blogging part of things just kind of up and died.

On top of that, I piled even more "shoulds" about how I should be doing marketing the way I learned in the classes I paid many thousands of dollars for, and trying to sell something in every post while being both Brief and Awesome at the same time.

Which, rather than encouraging me to be either Brief or Awesome (let alone Selling), discouraged me from posting anything at all.

Worse yet, it stopped me from even writing things in the first place.

When I started this, my blog was just how I thought things out, how I reflected on things.  So I didn't need a polished article to post: I just needed an idea (or a vague hint of one) to start typing with.

But then later, with all my self-imposed demands, I'd actually interrogate myself into silence by wanting to first know whether what I was writing was going to be an email to my list, a newsletter to my paying subscribers, a post for the blog, an article for one of my other websites, and what was I going to sell in it, and what was the main point going to be and....


So these days, I've noticed that most of my best writing has been going into Mind Hackers' Guild forum postings, and my rambling commentaries on LessWrong.com.  Because in neither of those places do I feel like I need to already know where I'm going before I open up the window and Just Freaking Type Something Already.

Without having to first make it into some sort of Life Changing Lesson Of Supreme Awesomeness.

Because, you know, it's okay to just be helpful.  Mildly amusing.  Or to even just be offering myself as a Minor Example Of What To Avoid.

(Sorry about all the Capital Letter Phrases today; it seems to be a side-effect of reading lots of Fluent Self posts while I download and convert my Bloglines archives.)

Sure, it's true that I still want to be more than just slightly helpful or miildly amsuing.  I'm still totally into that whole insight thing, after all. Which is why this particular post has been trying to ramble sideways towards some sort of Actual Point, apart from just the bare facts of the situation, and my declared intent to reclaim this space.

I wanted to also say something here about the specific neuroses I had, and how they made me not just want, but need to be Serious and Important, not just here, but in my current work as a teacher of mind hacking things.

How that need made me set ridiculously high goals for my work, to not only be 100% Right and True from a scientific standpoint, but to also have utterly perfect execution from a practical standpoint.  (Both of which really meant, "good enough to not have anyone be able to criticize me, ever, without me having a good defense.")

How that need made me believe I had to have the Ultimate Methods™...  not only the perfect ways of changing minds and lives, but also the perfect ways of teaching those perfect ways, with nothing less being suitable before I would allow myself to sell anything to anyone beyond the tiny circle of highly-motivated people who were willing to jump over all the arbitrary obstacles I put between them and the chance to give me money.

Which of course, was all just bullshit.

Because it not only kept my business in guilt-driven mediocrity, it also means that the stuff I have developed isn't getting to a lot of people who need it.

And every time I developed a newer technique that improved on earlier ones, I had to stop pushing or teaching the older (but usually easier-to-learn and easier-to-teach!) ones...  even though it's usually way easier for people to learn the simple techniques first and then build up to the super-duper fix-everything ones.

And then, after getting to a point late last year, where the super-duperest techniques are totally awesome and changing me and my wife and other people in ways I'd never dreamed of before, I just switched over to having to have the most perfect ways of describing, documenting, teaching, and promoting those techniques!

But the hardest part of mindhacking is -- and perhaps always will be -- seeing through your own bullshit.  Seeing that what you're doing isn't really as necessary as you think it is.  That your so-called "musts" are in fact merely options...  and piss-poor ones at that.

And so, it doesn't matter if I do end up creating the most marvelous methods of documenting and training the techniques themselves, because the hard part will still be unique to the individual doing the learning.

So, good enough is good enough.

And that goes for this article, too, even though I'm still kinda feeling a little nagging pull inside, one that says, "But you haven't shared an Important Life Lesson, or explained a Powerful Principle Of Change yet!  You  haven't shown how you got rid of the neuroses, or explained how they arise...  you haven't..."

Yeah, and I ain't gonna, either.  (At least, not in this post.)

Because good enough is good enough.

And this is my blog now.

And it sure is nice to be back.

Here's hoping you feel the same way.