Take Pride in Your Craft

Kevin Garnett

After winning Game 5 in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett was asked what kept him going, after 17 years in the NBA. He said that he wanted to show people that he was a true professional and that he took pride in the practice of his craft. It resonated with me, especially because today, I’m at BlogWorld Expo in New York City, where I’m giving a talk about what I’ve learned after 14 years of blogging. I would say that what I’ve learned and what I continue to do in this space has everything to do with the hard work of practicing a craft.

Time is a Choice

When I give my talk, the first point I will make is that writing is a choice. If you tell me that you can’t find time to write, I’ll tell you that you’ve made a choice. We all get 24 hours. I can teach you where to find it, if that’s the problem, but it’s a choice.

The Practice is the Reward

But that is easier for me to say because I practice a lot. I practice writing. I do it by working on my writing in several forms and fashions. I do it by reading and learning. I do it by measuring how people react to what I write. Practice is what makes you good at your craft. You’re never done learning, and you’re never done practicing.

Use Your Eyes

Writing is a lot more visual than you’d think. My eyes bring me to stories every day. I snap photos that become the seed that grows into a story line. Want an example?

Unused Candles

See those candles? They were in the waiting room of an office I was visiting. Notice anything? They’ve never been lit. But they are also the centerpiece of the table and thus, the whole space. What I ended up thinking about was all the effort people take to set a stage, but they miss a simple detail. The difference I felt was that everything in the waiting room immediately felt fake and not as inviting. There’s a blog post in that for me. Use your eyes.

You’re In Business or You’re Not

If you consider your blog an asset of your business, treat it that way. I’ve never picked up a magazine and read an article that starts with “I’m sorry it’s been so long since I last wrote this column.” Magazines can stretch their themes a bit, but they try to stay fairly close to the goal. Maybe your blog isn’t a magazine, but if you’re using content as part of your business, treat it that way. And if not, that’s fine, but just realize that’s why you’re not getting what you want from your efforts.

There Are Many Knobs to Fiddle

The other night, I watched It Might Get Loud (affiliate link), and at the very beginning, Jack White (of the so-named Stripes and other bands) creates an electric guitar with a block of wood, some nails, a Coke bottle, a string or two, and a few more bits and bobs. It works enough to make some music. His point was that you don’t need anything fancy.

By contrast, U2′s The Edge has a mountain of effects pedals and he is a student of layering in thick effects-driven sound. The stark difference between what The Edge is playing versus what comes out post-effects is amazing. In between the two, Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin was a very technical musician. All three take on their craft from different angles.

There are many knobs to fiddle in blogging. You can go stark and simple, crazy and effects-laden, or you can be a solid musician. None of these routes is bad or good. They are choices. But don’t give up just because you think you need ___ to accomplish what you’re setting out to do. Fiddle the knobs you already have.

Pride Doesn’t Replace Hard Work

If you don’t do the work, you can’t be surprised that you’re not getting the results. This is the basic law of nature experience. Watching Kevin Garnett play his winning game, I was very aware that the Boston Celtics were down for a good chunk of the game, but that they had the drive to do the work required to succeed. By contrast, the Miami Heat were excited up until the game started breaking down. At that moment, they started pointing fingers at each other instead of just working harder. Meanwhile, Garnett and the whole team just did the work.

Today, at BlogWorld, I’ll share that perspective. But I wanted you to know about it, too.

Oh, and this blog post is my speech notes. Easy cheesy, eh? Just another way I can show off what one can do if they look at their blog like part of their business. I hope it’s helpful.

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  • http://www.turndog-millionaire.com/ Turndog Millionaire

    Love how those candles lead to a story. I’m always looking around for inspiration. It might help because I write Fiction too (so am always looking for a new perspective) or just because I’m an obsesses Brand fan boy (so always looking at things from that angle), but I love to see stories in the otherwise simple world.

    And totally agree about the hard work. It falls in a few people’s lap,  but this is rare. Work, have faith, and work some more. 

    It usually works out ok :)

    Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

  • http://propertyagents.co/real-estate-lead-generation-course Muhammad Ayaz

    Hi Chris!

    Love reading your article’s you always providing great tips in very simple and concisely and I like pracitse is reward, certainly its gives your courage and makes you happier when you are doing some thing new with your practice work behind it you will feel more courages and gets lots of motivations.

    Thanks again for sharing great thought provoking article. 

  • L.

    Hi Chris,
    Wonderful post, as per usual. I thoroughly enjoy what I do and take pride in doing it. I can tell from your posts that you’re really passionate about your career, etc.
    Best.
    L.

  • Mary Ulrich

    Have a great time at BlogWorld and your speech looks great. If they videotape, let us know. I liked the unlit candles too.

    • Mary Ulrich

      Been thinking about the unlit candles. It reminds me of what you always say about successful blogs and businesses. You can’t just have pretty sites, your message must have fire/passion.

      Love hearing about your speech and Blogworld.

  • http://www.flurrycreations.com/theblog John Bergquist

    Chris, I love your example with the candles. In fact I might just write one on the results of connecting if you are a poser/fake. Have a great time at Blog World. It will be a great talk!

  • Hector Millan

    Hi Chris,
    I loved the simple vs effects-driven vs tecnical guitar playing styles. As a musician growing up listening to Zeplin, Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and others of the sort, I can relate. But what I really loved was how you keep bringing cool elements into the post, one after another, keeping readers interested while you lay different angles before us. Awesome job.

    Oh, and thanks for introducing me to Mitch Joel through one of your posts. You both have become my resources on marketing, customer relations, technology, sales, and just basically inspirational stuff. I run a maganize in Puerto Rico, and you have both been a great help for both print and online operations. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/epicenterone Aaron Nelson

    Knock it out of the park Chris! You rock :) I love that you used your blog post as your speech notes (shared it with us too – bonus!) I often use blog posts to help me plan lessons for my the classes I teach. Nice to know I’m not the only one who does things like that. 

    I love your point about time being the same for everyone, it’s what you decide to do with it that makes all the difference in the world. We all need to learn and live that lesson. 

  • http://www.algosobreomundo.com/ Arthur Bichmacher

    Nice post, Chris, bet it will make a great speech! The interesting thing was how after reading the part about the candles, I started noticing how you’ve probably used pretty much the same “use your eyes” approach to take inspiration from NBA or the guitarrists… really nice tip!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Precisely! That’s how I do it all, always. : ) 

  • Leonard Gaiter

    I needed to read this article today.  Thanks so much for this.  I watched the game last night and that statement resonated with me as well.  Sick!

  • http://twitter.com/bloggingdudes Kenneth M Muise Jr

    Celtics fan here..and loving it.  Great post and tie in to pride, dedication and hard work. 

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      I’m a fair weather fan at best. But I loved seeing this win. 

  • http://www.michaelnichols.org/about Michael Nichols

    I noticed Garnett’s post game comment too – classy response. Although I have to admit, I was hoping the Heat would pull it out. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Steve Bogan

    Wicked good imagery, thank you Son.

  • http://twitter.com/kgauraw Kumar Gauraw

    Absolutely phenomenal post Chris. Wow! Loved the way you described the fact that time is the matter of priority. I think this is an awesome thing I came across today. Thanks for writing a timely post!

  • Claudene (@RunnerBliss)

    Ringer! Winner! Winner winner chicken dinner! This will be an *excellent* talk.Kevin’s comment last night struck a chord with me, too, in the business/professional sense (like Jordan).  And I felt even more proud to be a Celtics fan because of it. Agree about the unlit candles. Worse still, they’re in holiday colors so I assume, correct or not, they’re just decorations that never got taken down. Which gives the impression the office is lazy, apathetic about customer experience, etc. Have big fun giving this talk, it’s a really great one!!! p.s. can someone videotape it so we can it see it later? Please? :D

  • Ralph

    More of a Bs fan myself but you gotta love KG. That is a guy who takes pride in his craft. Like DiMaggio once said to a reporter who asked him why he played so hard night after night, he said: “there might be someon in the stands whos never seem me play and I dont want to let them down” (or words to that effect). Good luck today Chris, yoyre the KG of the blogworld.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      I know that feeling, DiMaggio. And no I’m not, but you’re kind. 

      • Ralph

        Youre the only daily blogger I actually read so yes – you are to me!

        Go Cs.

  • Anjali Amit

    Wish the Lakers would read this!

  • http://www.parmfarm.com/blog1/who-do-you-think-youre-talking-to/ Amy Parmenter

    Thx for sharing but you know I will be sorry to be missing you at BWE nonetheless.    Was just about to write a post on wearing ‘blogging goggles’ – making the same point as ‘using your eyes’.  Good to know we are on the same path…. 

  • mattysap

    Good post Chris. I’ve heard it from everyone before but I think its really starting to resonate with me… HARD WORK PAYS OFF!

  • http://www.injackiesshoes.com/ Alexandra

    I just checked out your blog because I’m reading your book (with Julien Smith), Trust Agents, and am loving it so much, I wanted to hear more timely words.  This is such a great reminder to anyone blogging (or just living).  Thank you for your book and for your fab blog!

  • http://jeffkorhan.com Jeff Korhan

    Really enjoyed this one  Chris.  I’ve long contended that blogging is virtual speaking, you get better at both when you realize both are identical if you suspend your disbelief –  just as a movie is real when you are in the theatre. 

    Also enjoyed the comment “I’m sorry its been so long ..”  One that drives me crazy is “It’s no surprise …”  That’s like saying, you already know this but please stay with me while I say it again … instead of just making my point! 

    Hope the speech went well!

  • http://www.tictwo.com/ Internships in China

    Some great food for thought there Chris – and yes, very helpful.

  • Valerie Deveza

    Thanks for sharing this thoughts Chris.  Valuable insights.  So true that there are really always a story to tell in a photograph. We just have to really open our eyes.

  • http://www.communicationskillsactivities.net/ Steve

    The difference between the Celtics and Garnett – a championship team in its current form – and the Heat of today is consistency. Even though Garnett plays with a fire, the Celtics don’t get too up and down depending on how things are going. It doesn’t get in their heads quite as much. They also have a very even keeled steady hand with Doc Rivers as their coach.

    That ability to stay the course through the ups and downs is something anyone who attains and keeps success in many facets of life has to have I think.

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  • http://Zentivity.com/ Jim Krenz

    Not cheesy at all. Very moving. Thanks for posting it.

  • Craig Yaris

    Since I missed your keynote at BlogWorld, I appreciate the recap here, and as the last comment said, not cheesy at all. In fact, I remember last year when you said something very similar about writing. We all have 24 hours, it is how we choose to use them that matters. I keep trying to live up to this (and failing occasionally), but I try.

    And, as I keep saying, thank you for writing a post just for me. I need these inspirations, more often that I’d like to admit.

    (And, it was great seeing you last night).

    Thanks!

    Craig

  • http://mattreport.com Matt Medeiros

    Go Boston ;)

  • johnmurphyinternational

    Thanks, Chris, for this and I’m sorry not to be at blog world to hear you. I agree that not doing something is a choice and the continuous “I’m too busy” gets a bit boring.
    Was not exactly clear what you were saying about using your blog as an asset to your business – can you elaborate on that?
    The key ingredient of hard work is a point well made. Too many think that going online is the key to an easy life – and that is not the case. It takes as much if not more hard graft than an offline business – but the benefits are there!

  • http://karrolskorner.com/ Karl K.

    Some great food for thought there Chris – and yes, very helpful. 

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