SETT, the new blogging platform that Todd and I are building, which this blog is running on, is going really well. With every project comes this fantasy that as soon as the world catches the briefest glimpse of your work, it will respond by showering you with praise and instantly recognizing that what you have created is important and the best possible solution to an significant problem. That's not actually what happens, though. Ever. For anyone.
Being at the beginning of the success curve is more like being a puppy dog. People like you and are interested in what you're doing, but you're not necessarily taken seriously and you stumble from time to time. That's where we are.
According to the recent SETT survey I did, most readers prefer SETT to Wordpress. Not everyone will like it better, but I've been really thrilled with how people are embracing some of the new features we've built. It confirms my belief that blogging is currently broken fundamentally, and that we're building the next version of blogging, and not just sprinkling some glitter an an existing solution.
Since releasing, we've rebuilt a lot of stuff to make it easier to use, more consistent, and accessible on a number of devices. We've introduced bugs in the process, but we are also working hard to fix them. Readers have contributed a lot of great content in the community side of the site, and two of the posts were so good that I promoted them to the front page.
But at the same time, we're still vulnerable like a puppy. We might fail, and that's something worth talking about.
I've started previous projects without much thought or commitment. In some ways, that's a good thing, because it means that I'm willing to jump right in and make stuff happen. That's an important skill. But at the same time, I go in without really knowing what it would take to succeed, or what it would take to fail. I have that vision of instant overnight success, and when reality doesn't quite match that, I lose motivation. Not with SETT. For over a year and a half, SETT has been my primary focus, and for the last year, I can objectively say that I've been killing it.
Part of what fuels my motivation for SETT is that I've thought about how I might fail, and which of those possibilities are acceptabele to me, and which aren't.
If we launched SETT and everyone basically said, "No, Wordpress and Tumblr are everything we want for blogging, what you've created is superfluous," I would accept that. I thought that SETT was a good idea worth pursuing, but if, after creating it, the blogging community told me "no thanks" I could accept that.
If a competitor decided to focus all of its resources to copying us and managed to beat us at our own game, it would hurt, but I would accept it. I would fight and try to win, but if I ultimately lost, that would be okay.
If someone else came out with a way better way to blog-- something I hadn't thought of, I could accept that as well. I would never try to encourage people to use something I built if I didn't feel like it was the best possible solution.
So there are ways that I could fail that would be acceptable to me. I would fight them and do my best, but if I ultimately lost, I wouldn't have regret. On the other hand, there's one way I won't fail, and that's for lack of effort.
If SETT fails because I didn't try hard enough, that's an embarrassment. There are a lot of factors in the creative process that can be coaxed or manipulated, but the one clear factor that is never beyond our own control is our own effort. My secret weapon is that I will give everything to SETT. I work every day of the year, including weekends and holidays. When I come across code I've written that isn't clean or efficient, I rewrite it. When I'm on a flight and my laptop battery dies, I stare out the window and daydream about SETT, about how I can make it better.
It's not just SETT, though. I will never allow lack of effort to cause me to fail in anything again.
My last girlfriend and I dated for some amount of time, maybe six or nine months. It was a long distance relationship, which was difficult, and we ultimately broke up. For the first time ever, I had regrets about breaking up, because I realized that I didn't try hard enough. Our situation was difficult, but it wasn't impossible. If I wasn't willing to put in the work to make it successful, then could I really count on myself to put in the work in my next relationship? If she wasn't worth my full effort, then who would be?
We got back together some amount of months later, and I decided that although we might break up again, this time forever, it wouldn't be because I hadn't tried hard enough. And so I tried. I certainly made my fair share of mistakes, and consistent with my policy of assuming responsibility for everything, I shoulder the blame for it not working. But I didn't regret breaking up the second time, because I knew that, in my own imperfect human way, I tried my best.
It was some time during that second shot at the relationship that I decided I would never fail for lack of effort in anything. It's the cowards way, giving up because one is either afraid of success, afraid of failure, or afraid of sacrifice. Should I encounter those fears, I resolved, I would push through them, placing my faith in the power of effort.
I'll fail again in business, I fail again in relationships, and I'll fail again with other personal goals. I know and accept this. But it won't be because I didn't try as hard as I possibly could. That would be unacceptable.
Photo is a picture I took in Norway of a Viking ship. Tough to come up with any credible reason for it to be at the top of today's post. The Vikings failed, but not for lack of effort? Maybe?
I can't believe that Full Responsibility post that I linked to is five years old! I may revisit the subject in a newer blog post because I have a lot more to say about it now.
I will be unabashed in saying that there are true winners and losers in life. Tynan has and is continually demonstrating the principles which make up that which separates the wheat from the chaff. I've been reading a lot of his older stuff lately and there are 2 blog posts which tie in exactly to this current post (while making up a good foundation for all of such related posts that have been coming out recently). I think these two are must reads:
If you don't read them I'll give you a small summary from my perspective - action action action. Action is much more effective than analysis even if action eventually fails. Action is the sole causative factor that causes changes to our physical world. I dare say it may be better to just act then revise course than to think and plan. I have a hard time with the last point as unplanned circumstances may have very severe repercussions (ie. unplanned pregnancy) so maybe depending on the situation detailed planning is required if consequences may cause such karmic events or loss of life/limb. For most other things though people tend to overthink things.
What's that cute...whether you think you can or you can't, you're probably right. I've always held the attitude of, this is what I'm going to do and you can join me if you want, but I'm going to make it happen anyway, so why not come along for the ride?
That's the whole thing with creating a movement, you have to be crazy enough to put yourself out there and be criticized by the in-crowd. Then again, what did following the crowd ever get us? Their results. So do you really want to be boring, obese, living the 9 to 5, or do you want to shape your life?
To get things you've never gotten you have to do things you've never done.
Hey Tynan! Two things: How can`t i search for "Tea" in your blog??? :s ; and i didn`t find any othre place to post this! :-))
Rodrigo S. R. (Brazil)
Hey Tynan, Is SETT going to be available for self hosting? Your post always inspire me. Want to support you one way or other.
So, how do I start my own SETT blog? That is the question. Currently I use Windows Live Writer and Blogger.com for my blog, but I'm very interested in what SETT has to offer. I only blog about once every 4 - 6 weeks.
Your post hits home with me. I feel many times that I don't follow through enough with things that I start. You definitely have me thinking about effort and giving up.Thanks for the great posts. I'm looking forward to more, and more videos!
A lot of what you have said has resonated with me. My grandfather used to constantly say that at the end of the day, the only person you have to answer to is yourself, and you can't lie to yourself forever. So you don't put the effort, you have only yourself to blame, simple as that. Really enjoy your posts, always looking forward to them. Thanks.
The one thing I consistently fail to account for when planning trips, especially shorter ones, is the disruption it will cause to my routine. For over a hundred days in a row, I wrote a blog post every day, did a Chinese lesson, worked on SETT, and a few other things for which I hold myself accountable.
I went to Peru for ten days, and although I started off strong, jamming in the blog post and Chinese lessons on my flights and bus ride to the Andes, once I started hiking I stopped doing those things. No real foul there, because breathing and walking had become difficult first priorities. When I got back to civilization, still in Peru, I resumed working hard on SETT, but I stopped doing Chinese lessons. I was practicing Spanish every day, though, so that made it okay. I wrote a monster blog post about Peru and sort of let myself coast on that. After all, it was a lot longer than my average post.
I got back to San Francisco and had only a week before I was going to Mexico. That week was great. I felt bad about being off schedule, so I used that as motivation to get back on. I rated three of those days as As and four as Bs, which is a pretty solid week. Next there are ten days completely missing from my schedule. I remember them, though. I worked on SETT every day while I was in Mexico, at a reduced capacity, as expected. I did a couple Chinese lessons, but was speaking Spanish, and fell behind on blog posts. Maybe I wrote four during those ten days.
Again, I got back and got back on schedule, but this time with less consistency. One day I gave myself an F and didn't even write any notes on the day. A few others I got Ds. There are As and Bs, too, but not as many as there should be.
I used to dislike to work. I saw how most people lived their lives, slogging through work that they hated, and I was determined not to fall into that trap. I made the mistake of generalizing, lumping all work together in the same bucket.
Since then, things have changed. In terms of monumental personal life changes, becoming a hard worker is the most recent one I've undergone. About a year ago, for reasons I touched on in this post, I decided that it was imperative for me to become a hard worker. I didn't do it because I had suddenly fallen in love with work, but rather because I had began to feel as though I was behind. And believe me, it wasn't love at first sight.
To fall in love with hard work, you must understand why it's necessary. When I was young I was told that sugar was bad, but I never understood exactly why it was bad, so I kept eating it. Only when I learned how it chemically affected my body did I finally give it up. The same is true of work-- if you don't know why you have to work hard and love it, you'll probably never actually do it.
Work is your gift to the world. That sounds corny, but it's true. And believe me, you owe the world a gift or two. Think of all of the various things that millions of people around the world have done for you to enjoy the life you have. They made up languages, invented stuff, procreated at the exact right times to create your ancestry, and managed to not kill each other in the process. We're lucky to be here, and the high standard of living we all enjoy now is only because of those who came before us. Some, like Einstein, had huge impact, but even people you don't notice, like the janitors, are making your life better.