Nearly ten years ago, when I was fresh out of high school, I drove myself down to Kentucky and enrolled in college. Of course, as you already know, that stage where you step out on your own is often filled with a pretty drastic learning curve, and I’m not just talking about the material you learn in school. For the first time ever, I was responsible for creating an income, balancing a budget, and making regular payments on bills. Some time during the middle of my freshman year, I dropped the ball and received a phone call from my bank informing me that I was over drawn.
As soon as I got off the phone with the bank, I immediately got back on the phone with someone else…my parents. When I called, it never crossed my mind to ask them for money to help me through the situation. Instead, I asked my father, who is incredibly good with his budget, to talk me through the situation and provide me with some advice for how to remedy it and how to avoid having it happen in the future. We talked for a while and came up with a solution. Then after that phone call (and throughout the course of the next couple of years), I began researching online and regularly reading articles about budgeting, saving money, and even investing.
Within the next couple days, I cleared the account back into a positive balance and now, years later, I have maintained that same account in good standing and have never over drafted since then. I now own real estate, operate a successful and very profitable blog, and I’m enrolled full-time working on another college degree.
Please dont’ mistake what I’m saying here. It’s not my intention to brag or sound cocky. I look back at those years and feel blessed beyond all measure that my parents taught me an important concept about life, and truth be told, if you grab onto this concept, most of you probably have the potential to be 10x more successful than I am.
Here’s the concept: there are always two directions that we can take when trying to solve a problem or when trying to get ahead in life. The first, and most popular, approach is to look for a free handout. The second approach is to find a way to expand the way that you view the situation so that you can make the right decisions and take the right actions to accomplish success yourself.
I’m not here to propose that one is ethically beneficial or that you have stronger character if you follow the second route. I’m not hear to propose that I’m a better person than you are because I chose the second route in that situation. I would posit, however, that this second path, the route of education, is far more beneficial to an individual than the route of a bail out. Had I been bailed out in college, and not taken the time to learn to budget properly, I very likely would have been in the same situation a short time later. But since I not only wanted to avoid that negative situation but also wanted to be putting money into savings each month during those years, it was important to me to educate myself in the area of finances.
In any area of business, this concept rings true, and since this site is primarily about blogging and online business let’s look at one practical application of this principle.
Comments & Backlinks
An alarmingly spammy trend among bloggers is to leave comments using a keyword or a site name rather than a real name or pseudonym. I’ve even taken the time to identify to those who would comment here that I do not allow keywords in the name field by labeling it very clearly in the comment form. If you scroll down, you’ll see the phrase ‘no keywords’ in parentheses as a part of the name label.
I do this because there are two types of bloggers. First, there are those who browse around looking for a quick and easy link back to their site…a free handout. Second, there are those who browse around like a sponge trying to soak up information, and when they comment, it’s because they genuinely have something to add to the conversation or because they have a question and want to learn more. Those folks whose primary intent is that backlink…their comments aren’t welcome here, and I’m on a quest to get as many of those folks to jump ship and join that second group as I possibly can.
I know that your gut reaction is that I must be some sort of brutal monster to treat people like that, but, in fact, the opposite is true, and it amazes me that people don’t seem to get this. I wholeheartedly believe that I can help people far more through real conversations and discussions about tactics and best practices than by just throwing a link back to their site in the comments section. Besides, and this is somewhat irrelevant to this principle, I have CommentLuv enabled (but hidden prior to commenting) which provides users with a link back to their most recent article at the bottom of their comment.
This, of course, is just one example of this principle in action.
Often when I mention principles like this, I hear folks respond with sentiments similar to these, “What about when you are just starting? You need some time to get into quality writing and engaging.” This sentiment is nothing more than an excuse for mediocrity. I understand that folks are starting out and are just snatching up the spammy tactics that are being promoted across the blogosphere, but I’m not here to encourage folks to stay beginners forever. My goal is to challenge folks out of their beginner shells, through the intermediate stages, and on to advanced, incredibly successful kick-butt bloggers.
The Fervent Desire for Knowledge
My good battle buddy, Ryan Critchet (check out his blog here), often criticizes the need for college. His mindset is that he sees no point in formal education when he has it in his own power to study and learn as much as he can every single day. And he really does. He spends his days studying, working, and expanding his businesses. Now I personally think that he takes it to an extreme, but I can’t begin to express the respect that I have for that ‘dig in and figure it out’ attitude. I wish I saw much more of that in folks I come across.
I just finished an advanced composition class at DeVry University. After almost every single class, I found myself asking questions to the teacher trying to understand the best ways for writing in every possible situation. It amazed me that most students just stared off into space during class and then wandered out the door as soon as we were released. I want to learn as much as I possibly can, and I want to spread that fervor to as many folks as possible.
Show Me What You Can Do
I may sound harsh, but my intention is to come across the same way my big brother might challenge me with something like, “Hey! I bet you can’t throw a football farther than I can.”
“Oh, yeah!” I’d respond even though he may or may not be right, “I’ll show you! Watch me!” And then I’ll proceed to throw my arm out if necessary trying to show him up.
So come on, bro (or sis). Show me what you’ve got. Let’s step up our game, dig in, and learn what it takes to be successful.