We’re back! v5.238

There is a part of me that wants to start a blog that just contains blogs posts about the future of the blog and things that are planned, yet never delivered. Creativity would be high, but long term caring would be tough..

So, in an attempt to not actually re-produce that blog here (yet this very post is in that general theme), we’ll keep this one short and concise.

Are we back? Yes.
Who is “we”? The guy writing this, and his brain – sometimes singular, yet sometimes not…
Why are we back? Figured some things out.
Like what? Well, things like massive blog posts take a lot of time, but Twittering doesn’t. Big blog posts can provide much content/context/etc., but tweets cannot. Blog posts can be any number of characters (*DING!*), but Twitter posts can only be 140 characters…
So what? That means I don’t have to spend hours cranking out a blog post, but I can provide more than a tweet for things that need more. Blog posts from now on will be greater than 140 characters, yet less than my previous novel-like posts. Frequency should increase, and anything that is an ongoing theme/exploration can be split into bite-size posts where they can be re-explored with new things learned since the last post on the subject.
Are you going to change your theme 10 times and blog about it each time? No. Theme stays for a while and it should meet the needs of the new posting concept (new to me anyways).
Do you still have readers? I have no idea.

Ok, that’s it – and yes – I have posts lined up.

If you can’t win, ever – don’t even play

spymaster_logoA few weeks back I was introduced to the game called Spymaster. Spymaster is a fantastically addictive game where you play a spy, and based on your Twitter following this will provide you with certain benefits. Within the game you can go on missions for money, you can buy items to increase your attack/defense levels, and my personal favorite part, you also have the ability to assassinate other Twitter users who are also playing the game. The user interface is pretty good, it can take as little as 30 seconds to play a turn, and it’s quite well thought out.

So here is the challenge. Along the way you gain experience points which in turn helps move you up the levels. At the time of writing this I am at level 20 out of a possible 40 levels – I’m half way there. Now, because there is no level 41 (currently – they may add more levels later), there are potentially hundreds or thousands of people at this level. Also, much of your strength in the game is determined by the number of Twitter followers that you have. So we now have a ceiling on how high you can go in the game, if you don’t build your Twitter followers you will always be the whipping boy of larger players, and really, once you make it to the top – it’s really really crowded with no clear winner. Basically, all the people who have reached level 40 are now just collecting money, buying stuff, and attacking each other. There is no victory – just wasted time. Sure, you could make the argument that the entire thing is a waste of time, and no doubt, some will. That’s fine.

Looking at life however, how many games do we play where there is no possibility of winning? I believe that Sun Tzu put it best when he wrote:

Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.

The true hardliners take the stance that if you haven’t already won, don’t even play. In life, it’s always a bit challenging to be that definitive, but the basic principle of  that if you don’t even stand a chance of winning – don’t play. But what about all the glorious learning through failure that could be had? Well, how much fun has it been so far? Sure, there are times where we fail, and we learn, but to actively go out and look for things to fail at? I agree, it doesn’t make much sense.

The fact is that if there is the possibility of winning, then you have the possibility of winning. That’s a good thing. You also have the possibility of losing, however, in this case you have the opportunity of learning so that you can win in the future. Also a good thing.

It came to the point in Spymaster where I suddenly realized that unless I wanted to game Twitter and dramatically increase my following in a very short time, for no other gain than the game, then there was no possibility of ever winning. Why was I even playing? We don’t need more things in our lives that we can’t win at. We need more things that we can win at and we need to take the time to recognize these.

If you can’t win, ever – don’t even play.

Online Image vs. Offline Reality

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I was at a breakfast meeting yesterday morning with some friends to do some planning, talking, and understanding about a project we’ve decided to kick off. One of the phrases that typically comes up during our meetings is simply, “Well, we look good on paper!” which got me thinking…

For this particular group, yes, thanks to outside sources, friends of the group, our website, etc.. we have built a reputation which is quite respected within the industry and are frequently sought out for our expertise. The challenge from our point of view is that after ~5 years of existence, we have yet to actually accomplish our number one goal and entire reason for originally coming together… The reality is that people come to us for our process, our values, our knowledge, and our passion and not because a long list of successes. Well, they do, but it’s a different success than what we see.. Anyways, we always make fun of the fact that from where we sit we always look good on paper, yet have accomplished nothing in direct relation to our desired outcome.

I got thinking about this ‘looking good on paper’ bit and got to wondering about the online image we cast to others. Every day I get Twitter updates from people I’m following about someone or other going to a meeting, or working on a big presentation, or about to be interviewed, etc. etc.. All this is great and I really have no reason to question it, yet I wonder if you can the ball rolling towards success through lies, online…

What if you were to routinely post tweets (twitter messages) about fictitious meetings, presentations, projects, or whatever? What if they were vague enough that it would take some serious digging by someone to uncover the actual truth, yet the effort would be so great that no one would even bother, well, unless they had a serious vendetta against you or something..

Services such as Twitter allow us to provide the information we wish others to use to build the image they have of us. If you provide information relating to the great success you are having, rather than the seriously shitty life you are actually having, you are somewhat in control of how others perceive you. They don’t actually know any different because there simply isn’t enough information online to contradict what you’re telling them.

If you are trying to break into a particular industry, could you not start posting about client meetings, calls, projects, etc. that didn’t really exist and casually establish yourself as the go to person? You would likely already have information online that at first glance would support your claims… Yes, you do have a coaching business, with actual clients, so all these twitter messages about client meetings and coaching sessions would make sense.. Wow, there are a lot of meetings and sessions – this person appears to be doing quite well and is in demand.. Perhaps I should be talking with this person when I’m looking for a coach…

Does this person have clients? Yes. Does this person have sessions/meetings? Yes. Are 90% of the twitter posts lies because their business is doing poorly and they really only have one client that they’re coaching? Yes. Did you think otherwise? Possibly…

Sure, there is a finite limit to what can be accomplished, and yes, underneath it all it is out and out lies, but what is the breaking point? You can’t, for example, come out and say that you’ve designed all these great websites with there actually being no record of them anywhere. You can’t say you’re doing a presentation at company XYZ because eventually someone from company XYZ will correct the error..  I would suspect that what you could get away with, and the length of time you could get away with it would be much less now, than what you could get away with say a couple years ago. Things like social networking have provided us with a checks and balances type framework to a certain degree, yet it has also provided a platform for providing information which may not be entirely true.

I submit to you that your own level of suspicion of others online image vs. reality is directly related to your own view of the world and others within it already. If you already believe that everyone lies through their teeth then you won’t believe anyone’s online profile, yet if you believe that everyone generally tells the truth then you would likely also believe that someone’s online profile is a fair representation of reality. I believe we all fit somewhere in between and I’m more interested in the ‘interesting factor’ of the online image vs. offline reality than anything else, and I leave you with this to simply ponder, for the sake of pondering:

What do you actually know about some of the people in your online community? Is their offline reality as good as their online image appears to be? Are you sure?  😉

Photo by zachstern