Ask the Readers Where are the Holes in your Leaky Bucket 175

As bloggers, webmasters and web workers, none of us are perfect at what we do. From the A-listers to the Z-listers, there are things we all need to work on.

For the sake of illustration, try to think of yourself as a leaky bucket (hopefully something you don’t do too often). The little holes in the bucket are flaws, mistakes, areas in need of improvement.

The water represents lost opportunities — whether those opportunities are new feed subscribers, more traffic, more links, better networking relationships, and so on. Close up more of those holes, and you retain more opportunities to move towards your goals.

You’ll never close them all, but you can work to close as many as possible. The process begins with pin-pointing where you need to improve.

My most critical areas that need improvement are:

  • My off-blog promotion. Since I’ve started freelance blogging I rarely make the time to write guest-posts and ask for links. The way I divide my time also prevents me from commenting elsewhere as much as I’d like.
  • My ability to execute long-term plans. It’s been several weeks since I planned to start writing my eBook and I still haven’t made the time.
  • My methods of processing harsh criticism. 99% of responses to my work are either positive or, if not positive, constructive. There will always be that 1% which is written to deliberately sting. While I’ve become a lot better at dealing with this, it’s still something that gets to me more than it should.
  • My idea generation methods. If anything, I have too many post ideas for Skelliewag and don’t make enough time to use them. The other blogs I write for don’t really suit those ideas. For them, I do find it a weekly struggle to come up with post topics. I need to change the way I approach idea generation in my freelance work.

While it’s difficult to lay out your flaws and mistakes like that (it was for me), I now have four central areas I can focus on improving. I think the exercise has the potential to make anyone a better blogger or webmaster.

Where are the holes in your leaky bucket?

I’ll be picking out another favorite commenter this week. Here’s a quick summary of what I’ll be looking for:

  • A useful and insightful answer — something others can learn from.
  • Engagement with other commenters and reflection on their answers.
  • Active participation in the discussion.

What I won’t be taking into consideration:

  • Names, identities and affiliations. I’ll be judging by comments alone.

* * *

On success

Last week’s discussion on what’s your definition of success? has probably been the most interesting ‘Ask the Readers’ session we’ve had here. Aside from setting out our own ideas of what we require to feel successful, there was also a rather philosophical side discussion about the very nature of success.

My definition of success was to publish an eBook/book and use it to generate an income significant enough to quit my part-time job and support myself financially doing something I love.

A few commenters felt this was too modest or not really success, as it’s just the fulfillment of a goal that seems quite achievable, rather than a really big goal, or a long-term journey.

I want to take a moment to explain why I still stand behind this definition.

If you don’t allow for multiple successes in different stages and areas of your life, or if you define success only as an end-point — the last goal — my question in return would be, when are you ever able to feel successful? If you define success as a journey, where does it end? Does it ever end?

I suspect the idea that success is something that must be constantly just out of reach is what keeps millionaires feeling poor. If I generate enough income blogging to quit my part-time job, I will have achieved something I never really thought possible when I started Skelliewag several months ago.

Just because it now seems like an attainable goal, I don’t think I should move my success marker out of reach. I want to be able to experience that feeling of success. Of course, I won’t stop blogging after it happens. I’ll set new goals and work towards them. But I will already consider myself having succeeded in what I set out to do.

I was particularly impressed with the quality of the comments this week, and how fluidly commenters were engaging with what others had written.

Though we disagreed in our ideas about success, this week’s most valuable commenter is Alfa King, who blogs about writing. He provided thoughtful answers in the thread and expanded them on his own blog. I particularly liked his blueprint of what we need to do in order to be successful:

(i) have an intense desire to work towards the goal(s);
(ii) have conviction in what we are doing;
(iii) have commitment and enthusiasm to achieve the goal(s);
(iv) be dedicated in our action;
(v) indulge in hard work to make things happen; (don’t wait for things to happen)
(vi) be persistent;
(vii) be consistent;
(viii) be responsible;
(ix) have positive belief; (have inspiration not desperation); and last but not least,
(x) be prepared to give more than we expect to get.

One thing the discussion illustrated is that success is subjective. It’s a word that gets used a lot, but it seems like few people give it the same meaning. It’s something to think about, and it has ramifications across all areas of our lives. When you talk about success with others, are you really talking about the same thing?

If you’d like to continue the discussion about success (and whether my definition is really success at all), I’ll be responding to comments in last week’s thread. I’d like to keep the comments here reserved for the leaky bucket question, to avoid things getting muddled.