Are you showing your work?

You can’t find your voice if you don’t use it

What do you love doing?

Listen to how you speak about the things that truly mean something to you or that you enjoy. You will raise your voice, speak faster and overall you will be a more captivating speaker.

Trouble is we may not get the opportunities to speak about the things we love because we are not working on them.

We’ve all been there. Your friend brings you along to a party, goes to the bathroom and you are standing there alone for what always seem to be an extraordinary long time. One of the strangers at the party tries to be nice to you and comes over, eventually asking that dreaded question “So, what do you do?”

This is an opportunity to connect with someone by honestly and humbly explaining what it is that you do. If you’re employed, but you don’t feel good about your job title, ask yourself why that is.

Maybe you’re in the wrong line of work, or maybe you’re not doing the work you’re supposed to be doing. When you explain what you do, does it feel wrong?

If you are going to spend most of your days at work, make it something you are proud of. It’s awkward when you ask someone what they do and they mutter a few words and then try to switch the conversation or just go silent.

You don’t want to bang on about your work either but try to do something that you can talk about in a manner that won’t make the stranger that approached you think “Wow, you hate your life”.

Start being excited about your life and what you do.

One day you’ll be dead

Most of us, including me, prefer to ignore this basic fact of life, but thinking about our inevitable end has a way of putting everything into perspective.

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the biggest choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked.”

Steve Jobs

When you are dead, what will your obituary say. After all, obituaries are not about death, they are about life, the life you are living right now.

Your life is a story, make it worth reading about.

You want hearts, not eyeballs

If you want followers, be someone worth following.

However, instead of worrying about how many people follow you, think about the quality of your followers.

What would be worth more? 100,000 followers of dubious credentials or 10 followers made up of people you admire the most?

Let’s say Bill Gates subscribes to your blog and he decides to write about it on his own blog. You’re probably going to get a lot more than 100,000 followers from Bill as well as excellent credibility to go along with it.

Stop focusing on getting 1 million followers and think about how you are creating value so that when people in high positions stumble across your work, they want to sign up.

These days you can buy followers, comments, likes and you can completely fake your online presence. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Numbers can be manipulated on social media platforms but you can’t force people to love your work.

Everyone has heard that phrase “life is about who you know” and that’s true to some extent but it’s not the full picture. Who you know is largely dependent on who you are and what you do, and the people you know can’t do anything for you if you’re not doing good work.

Knowing people is not enough, you could know lots of wealthy people because you are a prodigious drug dealer. That’s not going to help you to get a job in the city.

The Vampire Test

Austin Kleon coined the term ‘The Vampire Test’ as a simple way to know who you should let in and out of your life.

If after hanging out with someone you feel worn out and depleted, that person is a vampire. If after hanging out with someone you still feel full of energy, that person is not a vampire.

Vampires cannot be cured. Spend time hanging out with people you want to hang out with. Spending time with people you don’t like or appreciate is a waste of time regardless of how ‘important’ you perceive them to be.

Double down on the people you do like and nurture those relationships.

Banish vampires from your life.

Don’t quit your show

There is no such thing as an overnight success, so while you are building up your portfolio of work, there will be frequent ups and downs. The downs are more often than the ups and in those low moments, it’s easy to say “I’ve had enough!”.

Success is a process so the moment you stop, it all grinds to a halt. You are no longer able to get better and once you stop improving and learning, you’re losing.

There are enough quitters and people who gave up. Hold on a little longer and you never know what may be coming your way.

Begin again

So you’ve mastered a skill, congratulations! Now master another skill. You can only move forward if you are learning. Technology gives us to power to learn almost anything so take your pick.

“Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough”

Alain de Botton

One thing to remember is that you’re not starting over. You don’t lose all the work that has come before. Everything you have learnt is still there, so don’t think of it as starting over. Think of it as beginning again.

“Look for something new to learn, and when you find it, dedicate yourself to learning it out in the open. Document your progress and share as you go so that others can learn along with you. Show your work, and when the right people show up, pay close attention to them, because they’ll have a lot to show you.”

Austin Kleon

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