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21 July, 2013

A reminder: When sticking to your guns pays off

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 
-excerpt from Citizenship In A Republic, Theodore Roosevelt  
I like this quote.
It gives me solace when I'm expending my energy on things I believe in.

In spite of this, I still remember virtually every negative comment that was thrown at me during the writing of, and after the delivery my book.

This is common. A very accomplished writer at the Emerging Writer's Festival I attended, someone who had written half a dozen books and for all intents and purposes was a success, said you don't remember the positive reviews. She said you can get 49 great ones and for some reason your head will still cling to that negative one.

I read a very good book over the weekend after seeing it recommended in this G+ discussion. The book was called Quitter and the recommendation was made after seeing a question around:

"I'm quitting my job to chase my dreams!"

The book had some resoundingly good advice, highlighting the importance of seeing the good in what you do, while still actively pursuing what you love and taking steps to ensure that happens. There were two things in particular I'd like to call out.

The first was on time. You don't get to your dreams by watching television. I'm calling it out because it matches the words emblazoned on the poster on the back of my door. Words I live by.

Cheers, Holstee Manifesto

The second was on dreams.

I'm paraphrasing the writer's reference from another book here, but here's what happens when you ask a group of first-grader's "how many artists are in the room?"

They will all put their hand up.
You ask the same question to a group of third-graders and a third put their hand up.
By the time they are twelve you are lucky to get one or two hands.

Group mentality and society condition us not to pursue our dreams.

Which brings us back to negative comments about my dream. It was to write a book. And that's what I've done but like I said those comments can stick sometimes. And that's unfortunate.

Then I remember the man in the arena, who does actually strive to do the deeds, who doesn't heed the words of a critic, and that's pretty inspiring. I also remember all the positive feedback I received for my book, and how I put myself out there and was able to share a story that had been hanging over my head for so long.

Another thing happened recently.

An interstate trip down near Sorrento, with some my old buddies. The book came up and I got some kind words, and I remarked on how it's an extremely humbling experience getting such feedback from your peers on something so intensely personal. The crime, I remarked, was that there's no way you can assemble all that feedback in one place for when things might be a little more gloomy.

I sat on that thought for a while.

As I hinted at yesterday, things are a bit challenging at the moment, and perhaps things seem a bit gloomier than usual.

To combat it I've been keeping busy. I updated my consultancy site, plotted an outline for an upcoming workshop, read aforementioned book, leaned on my network, and decided to address that crime I mentioned earlier.

There is a way you can assemble most of the feedback from a book in one place.

It's called hustle, and I'm a big fan. I grabbed my old phone, extracted all the SMS to my Gmail, combed through email, downloaded my Facebook, and collected every piece of feedback I could find on Being Bi-Bi and mentions of "the book".

I then assembled it all on a digital cork-board, below is the result.

Sticking to your guns pays off. And as insidious as negativity is, there's always a way to cobble together a collection of reminders of why you do what you do, and why you'll keep persevering.

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