People Pleasing Does Not Lead To Success

I had a shift in perspective last year while publishing my coloring books. It’s made my life much better. I think it’s due to a distinction I picked up from Gary Vaynerchuck.

You see I am what is commonly called a “people pleaser.” I picked up the habit from my childhood environment, and from being the fat kid in school. In order to feel safe, and accepted, I spent a lot of time putting other’s needs before mine. I don’t think there is anything at all wrong with wanting the best for others. However, like anything it can be taken too far. I have often taken it too far in my life, sacrificing my needs and preferences for those of others.

This is not a good trait when you put your work out into the world for the public to see, and pick apart. I have often felt a “drag factor” that comes from trying to make what I put out there pleasing to everyone. Intellectually I know this is a fool’s errand, but emotionally I can’t help but feel attached to the idea. As I mentioned above, I got picked up a distinction from Gary Vaynerchuck that has helped me adjust this self-limiting habit. He has spoken about it many times, but an episode of his “Ask GaryVee” show brought it sharply to mind. It has to do with how Gary deals with haters and critics. Rather than blow them off, or ignore them, he takes in what they have to say and uses the information to improve what he puts out there.

Gary’s way of engaging his detractors was stuck in my head when I put my first coloring book for adults into the world. The first three reviews were a 5 star review (yay!), a 3 star review (okay), and a 1 star review (ouch.) In the “old” days I would have seen the 1 star review and run for a hiding place. This time, I read them. The complaints were basically in two parts. The first were technical complaints. The second was that they basically didn’t like my images. The second part simply did not concern me. If someone doesn’t like what I put out, they have many other options to pick from. The technical points were valid and gave me great tips on what I can improve. I have incorporated those improvements, and I am grateful to have them. Rather than causing me to give up, my negative reviews have improved my craft. This is a whole new world, and I have Gary to thank for the distinction.

As to the people not liking the images themselves, well that’s fair enough. I don’t care for lobster. Lots of people do. All that means is I don’t order lobster at restaurants. No big deal. The chefs don’t care, and I am sure the lobsters are happy to have one less consumer out there. Win-win.

In the past, my approach to try and please everyone resulted in lukewarm results at best. The amount by which some people dislike what you do is roughly equal to the amount that others will like it. You can’t tell if you’ve got a hot product until someone drops it.

The simple fact is everyone has opinions. They have them for reasons. When they express them, they mean at least that. Reading past the surface, all feedback can be useful. For now, I am one of those who values my detractors. They show me things my fans might miss, or might not be willing to say.

Personally, I am looking forward to my next batch of bad reviews.

5 Things a Sick Writer Can Do

Some days you’re just too sick to write an interesting post. However, you may also want to follow the advice of Dr. Robert Anton Wilson and “do it every day” to make your writing improve. In the spirit of Gary Vaynerchuk’s suggestion that sometimes it’s better to document rather than create, here is a list of 5 things a writer could do on a day they don’t feel up to writing.

1 – Poke away at your pieces in progress. I use Evernote as my drafting space. The primary reason is ease of parity across multiple devices. Whether I am, in a cafe, in the bathroom, or curled up on my couch wrapped in blankets and feeling like hell, I can work on my writing with ease. I mostly work on my laptop, but it’s just as easy to work on my iPhone or iPad. This leads to…

2 – If you are on a schedule, you can post something you’ve written before. Perhaps a piece is already done and waiting, or perhaps it only needs some quick finishing up and editing. Keeping a rolling set of posts in progress makes this easy.

3 – Not every post need be completely original. If you are stuck for inspiration, a quick scroll through your favorite social media feed can provide something to riff on. Sometimes I take a scroll through Quora, looking for requests I have gotten for answering questions, or I review answers I previously gave to see if I can expand on what I said.

4 – Write a review! I do not mean to suggest that writing a good review is easy to do. There is a reason some reviewers have fans and followers. However, writing an okay review is decidedly easy. All you do is give your opinion, and everyone has those in spades.

5 – Lastly, you can write a list of 5 things a sick writer can do. (Or any list really.) These kinds of posts are the lowest hanging fruit in the blogging world. 😉

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The Law of Fives and How Cool It Is

Being it’s a Friday, and being that I am a Discordian, and being that Fridays are a minor holy day to Discordians, and being that today is the 27th of January (2 from 7 is five), I thought I would share one of the central tenets of Discordianism that is designed to free the Discordian’s mind from linear thinking.

“The Law of Fives is one of the oldest Erisian Mysterees. It was first revealed to Good Lord Omar and is one of the great contributions to come from The Hidden Temple of The Happy Jesus.

POEE subscribes to the Law of Fives of Omar’s sect. And POEE also recognizes the holy 23 (2+3=5) that is incorporated by Episkopos Dr. Mordecai Malignatus, KNS, into his Discordian sect, The Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria.

The Law of Fives states simply that: ALL THINGS HAPPEN IN FIVES, OR ARE DIVISIBLE BY OR ARE MULTIPLES OF FIVE, OR ARE SOMEHOW DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY APPROPRIATE TO 5.

The Law of Fives is never wrong.

In the Erisian Archives is an old memo from Omar to Mal-2: ‘I find the Law of Fives to be more and more manifest the harder I look.’ ”

A quick look at the standard issue human vehicle reveals how close to home the Law of Fives hits. The vast majority of us have five fingers on each hand, and five toes on each foot. (Although there are exceptions. I once went to a family owned pharmacy in India and all but one of the men in the store had an extra finger on at least one hand. The one with five fingers had a surgical scar on his right hand where the others had the extra digit, so he presumably also had six fingers on that hand at some time.) We also usually have five limbs, if you count the head-neck assembly as one.

From my personal life, I can see that I was destined to be a Discordian. I was born on October, 7th 1969. 1 + 0 + 7 + 1 + 9 + 6 + 9 = 32. 3 + 2 = 5. I was doomed to follow the Goddess Eris from the get go. (SIDE NOTE: Since we got “32” in there, which is the reverse of the sacred number “23” first revealed as the “23 enigma” by William S. Burroughs, this probably means that I am the evil anti-Burroughs. A title I will proudly wear.) As the Principia says, “The Law of Fives is never wrong”, especially if you keep in mind the reminder given by Omar, “… the harder I look.”

Here is where I give the game away (though you have likely seen the gag already): The Law of Fives is a mental gimmick meant to get us to look at things more deeply while simultaneously driving home the realization that since the brain is built to find patterns and assign meaning, we can find patterns and assign meaning consciously if we remember that it happens all the time. This gives us the possibility of being free of our cultural conditioning, and the dominant educational system of our upbringing if we choose to be. The Law of Fives reminds us that the patterns and meanings we work with can be a game if we decide they are. The way to get good at this is to practice the Law of Fives. Look for the five wherever you can, and if you need to, go through the necessary mental gymnastics to make it work.

This is just one of many distinctions in the Principia that promote free, critical, and creative thinking. These distinctions are why it’s one of my favorite religions. Read any five pages and you might be impressed, and will very likely be confused. Eris is the Goddess of confusion after all.

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