Don’t Get Too Comfortable [Video]

Yes, another video blog while driving. Danger’s my middle name

As bloggers. As writers. As human beings – we all strive to create our own comfort zones. We establish communities around ourselves that make us feel safe, accepted, and content. But often we fail to realize the impact and influence we (can) have on others. Challenge yourself to step outside the box and try something new, leave yourself vulnerable to criticism, don’t always do what’s safe, ignore the critics, do what YOU want, and say what YOU want to say. Don’t just be content with where you are, push yourself to reach new heights. Seize today, and every day, as an opportunity to challenge others and allow yourself to be others as you navigate through this thing called life.

Reach out and touch someone new

This concept especially applies to bloggers and entrepreneurs. Recently, I wrote an article on ‘How to Take Over the World With Your Blog‘ – the emphasis here us to ultimately challenge yourself. It’s SO easy to settle in our communities of bloggers – and while I more than appreciate those of you who frequent the blog, I want to continually grow the community here – in fact, I never want it to stop growing. So I (attempt) to reach out and ‘touch’ new people with each post I write – sometimes I am successful, other times not so much – and a lot of it has to grow naturally, some of it is on you all to tell a friend or two about something you read here. The moments that I see a completely new person come through and care enough to post a comment, are the moments that I know I am achieving at least some level of success as an online journalist.

Write about what others’ will not

Second, and maybe even more importantly – engage in CHALLENGING topics. Write about topics you have a strong opinion on – do so tastefully, but be honest, be real. Genuine writing is the most effective writing, whether people agree or disagree, more times than not, the majority will respect you for speaking from the heart, maybe not focusing on eloquence and being nice, but instead saying ‘what has to be said’ or what others may be afraid to say. In doing this, allow yourself to remain open for criticism – it’s OK to stand firm in your beliefs, but maintain an open forum for discussion – odds are, I’m no more ‘right’ than you are – so we’re both allowed to have totally different opinions – and that’s fine. I think we (myself included) get caught up in writing almost TOO objectively, trying to appeal to the masses, and in doing so, at times, we lose a little bit of our own voice and our own opinion.

The teacher becomes the student

Hopefully you will take some of this to heart as you move forward in your blogging and entrepreneurial endeavors. YOU all are what keep ME inspired, motivate me to keep doing what I do, writing, enlightening, inspiring (hopefully), educating, and entertaining – but this blog is just as much of a learning experience for me as I hope that it is for you. All of you who come through here and take the time to write your thoughts have opened my eyes and my mind to new ways of thinking. In the end, that’s really what it’s all about.

So this week, MY DIRECT CHALLENGE TO YOU, is to write an OPINIONATED blog post. Be daring, be bold, and most importantly, be REAL. Whatever the topic is, speak your mind and share some raw emotion. Don’t necessarily write for the sake of controversy, but be subjective, it’s OK, it’s your blog – so make it your own. And if (when) you do, if this inspired you to do so, come back through and share the link to your post with the rest of the community. Teach all of us something new!


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23 Responses
  • Ryan Stephens Reply

    Matt,

    You bring up some really good points,some of which I’ve been trying to convey a lot on my blog: 1.) Constantly push yourself 2.) Often times we learn and grow the most (and feel the most satisfied afterward) when we step outside our comfort zones.

    A couple of other great points you made.

    Reaching out to new people. This is something I HAVE to get better at, but time is no man’s friend and so I think it becomes a challenge to reach out to new people, forge new relationships yet still find time to comment on those closer to you, those that helped your community get to where it’s at.

    Maybe setting a goal to comment on just 2 new blogs everyday is a good start. Do you have an approach for this that you’d like to share?

    Another thing I’m trying to start doing is really delve deeper and do some posts that might only appeal to a small # of people, but really try to tell the whole story. I’m reading a lot of traditional academic journals, etc. and finding gaps in that literature that I can build on. I hope that consists of the CHALLENGING topics you’ve mentioned here.

    I enjoyed seeing you on video, even though you’re a reckless driver.

    • Matt Reply

      @Ryan – thanks for the comment, you make several good points in response to my points.

      Reaching out is something we all have to get better at, myself included. I have developed a great community here and I really value the people who often come by and share their insight. I try to acknowledge that through responding to (almost) every comment that is left here. I want every discussion to be a two way street – not me writing a post and you guys responding, never to be talked about again.

      I do need to get better at moving around and getting involved in more discussions away from here – you should see my to-do list of blogs I want to read and comment on. I need to optimize and schedule my time better for my time spent here and away from here. It needs to be more 50/50.

      Lastly, I have changed my philosophy on Twitter. I was so focused on maintaining an ‘exclusive’ list of people I followed, and I really feel that by doing that I sort of pigeon-holed myself and focused too exclusively on the 200 or so people I followed. I am a firm believer of quality over quantity, but how will you have find MORE quality if you don’t reach out? So, I’ve started following new, relevant people in an effort to increase my reach and the overall community here. More on this coming soon.

      I need to take your advice and write about things that I am passionate about, even if it doesn’t interest anyone else. One thing I’ve been working through is one or a series of posts on the philosophy of the Matrix. Super nerdy I know, may not be of interest to anyone else, but fascinating to me. I plan to turn over some new leaves in the future of my blog, hopefully for the better.

      And lastly, if you think I’m a reckless driver, imagine me driving down the freeway with one hand while taking pictures of billboards and talking on the phone – all in a day’s work my friend. I thrive in living the dangerous life (or I guess I pretty much have to if I want to keep my job).

  • Ryan Stephens Reply

    Matt,

    You bring up some really good points,some of which I’ve been trying to convey a lot on my blog: 1.) Constantly push yourself 2.) Often times we learn and grow the most (and feel the most satisfied afterward) when we step outside our comfort zones.

    A couple of other great points you made.

    Reaching out to new people. This is something I HAVE to get better at, but time is no man’s friend and so I think it becomes a challenge to reach out to new people, forge new relationships yet still find time to comment on those closer to you, those that helped your community get to where it’s at.

    Maybe setting a goal to comment on just 2 new blogs everyday is a good start. Do you have an approach for this that you’d like to share?

    Another thing I’m trying to start doing is really delve deeper and do some posts that might only appeal to a small # of people, but really try to tell the whole story. I’m reading a lot of traditional academic journals, etc. and finding gaps in that literature that I can build on. I hope that consists of the CHALLENGING topics you’ve mentioned here.

    I enjoyed seeing you on video, even though you’re a reckless driver.

    • Matt Reply

      @Ryan – thanks for the comment, you make several good points in response to my points.

      Reaching out is something we all have to get better at, myself included. I have developed a great community here and I really value the people who often come by and share their insight. I try to acknowledge that through responding to (almost) every comment that is left here. I want every discussion to be a two way street – not me writing a post and you guys responding, never to be talked about again.

      I do need to get better at moving around and getting involved in more discussions away from here – you should see my to-do list of blogs I want to read and comment on. I need to optimize and schedule my time better for my time spent here and away from here. It needs to be more 50/50.

      Lastly, I have changed my philosophy on Twitter. I was so focused on maintaining an ‘exclusive’ list of people I followed, and I really feel that by doing that I sort of pigeon-holed myself and focused too exclusively on the 200 or so people I followed. I am a firm believer of quality over quantity, but how will you have find MORE quality if you don’t reach out? So, I’ve started following new, relevant people in an effort to increase my reach and the overall community here. More on this coming soon.

      I need to take your advice and write about things that I am passionate about, even if it doesn’t interest anyone else. One thing I’ve been working through is one or a series of posts on the philosophy of the Matrix. Super nerdy I know, may not be of interest to anyone else, but fascinating to me. I plan to turn over some new leaves in the future of my blog, hopefully for the better.

      And lastly, if you think I’m a reckless driver, imagine me driving down the freeway with one hand while taking pictures of billboards and talking on the phone – all in a day’s work my friend. I thrive in living the dangerous life (or I guess I pretty much have to if I want to keep my job).

  • Eva Reply

    Matt – I like that this entry has both a video and text to go along with it.

    I really like your point about learning from your comments. It’s a great approach to blogging, rather than just pushing information out there period. I think with that attitude, you can get away with writing almost anything you want.

    My personal approach is objective subjectivity, I guess. I don’t really care for writing 100% objective or 100% subjective posts, but I like adding opinion to the facts.

    • Matt Reply

      @Eva – You and I are on the same wavelength here – I like to mix objective and subjective thoughts – I think that’s the most effective writing style (for the most part). But I think what I’ve been guilty of is leaning too much toward the objective side of things and, in a way, I lose my own voice a bit in the process – I try to focus my writing in a way that will appeal to the masses, and that’s good – it’s effective, but writing doesn’t have to always connect with everyone, it never will. So with saying that, I think that many of us (myself included) have to sort of get back to basics, our raw emotions and opinions, and let that be seen more often in our writing.

      For example, I usually scribble down ideas for a blog as soon as I think of something – when I take this and sit down in front of my computer – I pour out my ideas first, not really concerning myself with adding articles and links to support my points [listen to episode one of my podcast for more on this]. But, when I sit back and edit it, take things out, add things in, I change the complexity of the post. While I think this is important and essential in some cases, we also have to be careful to not allow it to stifle our thought process, and our own opinions.

      To your point – I have already learned a ton in only a few short months – I’ve taken on some pretty lofty topics, and this has been intentional, because they’re topics I want to learn more about – they are issues I’m not an expert on – and ideas that I can learn a lot about by listening to all of you. As you said, with this attitude in place, the options are virtually limitless as to what I can write about.

      What’s your writing process like? Do you have a similar ‘layering’ technique like the one I described? Or something totally different?

      • Eva Reply

        I haven’t really gotten the hang of my writing process yet. For me, there is a steep learning curve when it comes to this type of writing. To your point of being too objective, that’s defnitely my issue as well – I censor myself too much. I’m coming from a background of academic writing and, more recently, business writing and it’s really hard to transition – but that is the goal.

        So.. I’m taking your challenge on. You will definitely see some opinionated posts coming from me.

  • Eva Reply

    Matt – I like that this entry has both a video and text to go along with it.

    I really like your point about learning from your comments. It’s a great approach to blogging, rather than just pushing information out there period. I think with that attitude, you can get away with writing almost anything you want.

    My personal approach is objective subjectivity, I guess. I don’t really care for writing 100% objective or 100% subjective posts, but I like adding opinion to the facts.

    • Matt Reply

      @Eva – You and I are on the same wavelength here – I like to mix objective and subjective thoughts – I think that’s the most effective writing style (for the most part). But I think what I’ve been guilty of is leaning too much toward the objective side of things and, in a way, I lose my own voice a bit in the process – I try to focus my writing in a way that will appeal to the masses, and that’s good – it’s effective, but writing doesn’t have to always connect with everyone, it never will. So with saying that, I think that many of us (myself included) have to sort of get back to basics, our raw emotions and opinions, and let that be seen more often in our writing.

      For example, I usually scribble down ideas for a blog as soon as I think of something – when I take this and sit down in front of my computer – I pour out my ideas first, not really concerning myself with adding articles and links to support my points [listen to episode one of my podcast for more on this]. But, when I sit back and edit it, take things out, add things in, I change the complexity of the post. While I think this is important and essential in some cases, we also have to be careful to not allow it to stifle our thought process, and our own opinions.

      To your point – I have already learned a ton in only a few short months – I’ve taken on some pretty lofty topics, and this has been intentional, because they’re topics I want to learn more about – they are issues I’m not an expert on – and ideas that I can learn a lot about by listening to all of you. As you said, with this attitude in place, the options are virtually limitless as to what I can write about.

      What’s your writing process like? Do you have a similar ‘layering’ technique like the one I described? Or something totally different?

      • Eva Reply

        I haven’t really gotten the hang of my writing process yet. For me, there is a steep learning curve when it comes to this type of writing. To your point of being too objective, that’s defnitely my issue as well – I censor myself too much. I’m coming from a background of academic writing and, more recently, business writing and it’s really hard to transition – but that is the goal.

        So.. I’m taking your challenge on. You will definitely see some opinionated posts coming from me.

  • Elisa Reply

    Matt, great challenge. I’m definitely going to try to take it on!

    The past couple posts I’ve written, I’ve had very little discussion/conversation yet a bunch of “Great Post” “Excellent Idea” “Good Job” comments. Don’t get me wrong, the accolades are nice (and damn I feel like a tool typing this comment like “I’m all cool”) but I’d really like to engage people into discussion. To make them think and to have some good dialogue. I’ll have to think out something pretty good to post…

    Meanwhile, I think you do a great job reaching out to new people. I know I’m probably not “new” anymore, but between Brazen and Twitter our few back and forths have totally gotten me more devoted to keeping tabs on LWP. In other words…great post, excellent idea, good job. :)

    • Matt Reply

      @Elisa – There’s nothing wrong with a little affirmation from your fans that you are, in fact, awesome. I gladly welcome that – if someone wants to come through here and tell me they love me, that’s great – but I would hope that my writing sparks something more within them that compels are more though-provoking response. It’s not always going to happen, and sometimes, if someone completely agrees with me, that’s fine. I’ve had many people email me saying ‘I agree with you, I didn’t really have anything to add, but wanted you to know that I appreciate what your doing’ or something along those lines – and that’s great – I more than appreciate it.

      I think my overall points, which I’ve reiterated in some of the comments here – is that we all have to keep challenging ourselves – and we can’t be afraid to write something that we have a strong opinion on. Even if it means criticism from others. And, when that criticism comes, we have to be mature enough to handle it and welcome the discussion and varying perspectives.

      Thanks for the accolades and compliments. I can’t wait to read what you come up with!

  • Elisa Reply

    Matt, great challenge. I’m definitely going to try to take it on!

    The past couple posts I’ve written, I’ve had very little discussion/conversation yet a bunch of “Great Post” “Excellent Idea” “Good Job” comments. Don’t get me wrong, the accolades are nice (and damn I feel like a tool typing this comment like “I’m all cool”) but I’d really like to engage people into discussion. To make them think and to have some good dialogue. I’ll have to think out something pretty good to post…

    Meanwhile, I think you do a great job reaching out to new people. I know I’m probably not “new” anymore, but between Brazen and Twitter our few back and forths have totally gotten me more devoted to keeping tabs on LWP. In other words…great post, excellent idea, good job. :)

    • Matt Reply

      @Elisa – There’s nothing wrong with a little affirmation from your fans that you are, in fact, awesome. I gladly welcome that – if someone wants to come through here and tell me they love me, that’s great – but I would hope that my writing sparks something more within them that compels are more though-provoking response. It’s not always going to happen, and sometimes, if someone completely agrees with me, that’s fine. I’ve had many people email me saying ‘I agree with you, I didn’t really have anything to add, but wanted you to know that I appreciate what your doing’ or something along those lines – and that’s great – I more than appreciate it.

      I think my overall points, which I’ve reiterated in some of the comments here – is that we all have to keep challenging ourselves – and we can’t be afraid to write something that we have a strong opinion on. Even if it means criticism from others. And, when that criticism comes, we have to be mature enough to handle it and welcome the discussion and varying perspectives.

      Thanks for the accolades and compliments. I can’t wait to read what you come up with!

  • Sam Reply

    Matt, this is great advice. It’s so easy to establish a loyal group of followers, a blogging circle, where you all read and comment on each other’s blogs. But, you’re right that it’s important to reach out to new people, and try to touch someone new each day. However, we have to make sure that we don’t get so caught up in growing our blog, that we forget about our “blogging circle,” the ones who have really taken the time to get involved with our blog and get to know us.

    I will definitely take on your challenge and write an opinionated post this week. The wheels are already turning! Thanks, as always, for the fantastic insight :)

    • Matt Reply

      Sam – you make an excellent point that translates well beyond the world of blogging. In one of my FIRST posts here I wrote about businesses who focus on relationships vs. those were are obsessed with results. I talk about the almost natural time line growth of a business, and it goes something like this:

      Business starts out with a focus on relationships, building a strong community around their brand, interacting and engaging with their consumers, this is what get’s them started, helps them grow, etc.

      Business ‘makes it’ – they start making a lot of money, success is achieved, the wheels are turning, life is good.

      Business gets so caught up in their own success and making money, they forget about the people who got them where they are, they lose track of the connections and relationships they used to have with their consumers. In turn, customers don’t have the interest they used to have invested into the company when they were ‘cared’ about.

      Business realizes that they’ve lost touch with their consumers, and ‘gets back to basics’ – this is why we’re seeing big businesses hire ‘community managers’ – join in social media groups, etc. They realize that it’s lonely at the top, and that relationships go hand-in-hand with profitability.

      It’s important to never forget where we came from, but it’s equally important to increase our reach and grow our communities. More on this in a future post, actually – much more in many future posts is more likely. And I look forward to reading the post you’re working on.

  • Sam Reply

    Matt, this is great advice. It’s so easy to establish a loyal group of followers, a blogging circle, where you all read and comment on each other’s blogs. But, you’re right that it’s important to reach out to new people, and try to touch someone new each day. However, we have to make sure that we don’t get so caught up in growing our blog, that we forget about our “blogging circle,” the ones who have really taken the time to get involved with our blog and get to know us.

    I will definitely take on your challenge and write an opinionated post this week. The wheels are already turning! Thanks, as always, for the fantastic insight :)

    • Matt Reply

      Sam – you make an excellent point that translates well beyond the world of blogging. In one of my FIRST posts here I wrote about businesses who focus on relationships vs. those were are obsessed with results. I talk about the almost natural time line growth of a business, and it goes something like this:

      Business starts out with a focus on relationships, building a strong community around their brand, interacting and engaging with their consumers, this is what get’s them started, helps them grow, etc.

      Business ‘makes it’ – they start making a lot of money, success is achieved, the wheels are turning, life is good.

      Business gets so caught up in their own success and making money, they forget about the people who got them where they are, they lose track of the connections and relationships they used to have with their consumers. In turn, customers don’t have the interest they used to have invested into the company when they were ‘cared’ about.

      Business realizes that they’ve lost touch with their consumers, and ‘gets back to basics’ – this is why we’re seeing big businesses hire ‘community managers’ – join in social media groups, etc. They realize that it’s lonely at the top, and that relationships go hand-in-hand with profitability.

      It’s important to never forget where we came from, but it’s equally important to increase our reach and grow our communities. More on this in a future post, actually – much more in many future posts is more likely. And I look forward to reading the post you’re working on.

  • Pritesh Reply

    Matt:

    Another good point you have made. I agree with you that you should always try to get out of your comfort zone. You need to move beyond that.

    I can easily see this trend in great organizations I have been to. I have seen businesses move finance ppl to operations and ppl human resource to logistics. Now, these companies don’t do this to everyone but they do it mostly at the upper-management level. It’s not impossible to move HR person to IT but it’s not worth to experiment at that low level.

    Whenver companies move senior management ppl from one country to another, it opens new door for them. It also stretches them in many ways that might not happen to their life if they just stay in one department or base to one country. All these assignments or tasks which look so hard and risky give much more in returns later in the life and help to delelop in many ways that may not happen if someone just stay in one department or in one area.

    Cheers,
    Pritesh
    http://twitter.com/mehta1p

    • Matt Reply

      @Pritesh – The point you make really illustrates how this idea of ‘stepping outside your boundaries’ transcends all areas of thought, in this case, looking at it in a business sense – it’s extremely important to cross-train and develop in more than one area. While I think it can be extremely important to become an expert in one field, it’s also valuable to expand your horizons and learn about other areas of your businesses’ day-to-day work.

      Good way to translate this point into another field. I always appreciate you insight here – when are you going to be launching a blog of your own? If you haven’t already and need help getting one started, let me know, I’d be happy to help.

  • Pritesh Reply

    Matt:

    Another good point you have made. I agree with you that you should always try to get out of your comfort zone. You need to move beyond that.

    I can easily see this trend in great organizations I have been to. I have seen businesses move finance ppl to operations and ppl human resource to logistics. Now, these companies don’t do this to everyone but they do it mostly at the upper-management level. It’s not impossible to move HR person to IT but it’s not worth to experiment at that low level.

    Whenver companies move senior management ppl from one country to another, it opens new door for them. It also stretches them in many ways that might not happen to their life if they just stay in one department or base to one country. All these assignments or tasks which look so hard and risky give much more in returns later in the life and help to delelop in many ways that may not happen if someone just stay in one department or in one area.

    Cheers,
    Pritesh
    http://twitter.com/mehta1p

    • Matt Reply

      @Pritesh – The point you make really illustrates how this idea of ‘stepping outside your boundaries’ transcends all areas of thought, in this case, looking at it in a business sense – it’s extremely important to cross-train and develop in more than one area. While I think it can be extremely important to become an expert in one field, it’s also valuable to expand your horizons and learn about other areas of your businesses’ day-to-day work.

      Good way to translate this point into another field. I always appreciate you insight here – when are you going to be launching a blog of your own? If you haven’t already and need help getting one started, let me know, I’d be happy to help.

  • 8gb ipod nano 6th generation Reply

    Awesome post.

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