Thursday, August 28, 2008

Olympics is over. Now run for yourself, and set your own rules!

Today I scanned my feeds and found a blog post that got me thinking. Read it (you need to scroll down "below the fold" after following the link to see the post).

The post is by an interesting person who's blog I have had in my feedreader for some time. Dr. Mani is "a heart surgeon using his Internet marketing business to fund heart surgery for under-privileged children in India". Quite an unusal and interesting combination...

The post is about not looking at your competitors. Run your own race. Compete with yourself.

There's a lot of insight to gain along these lines. Of course you shall have an idea and insight in what your competition is doing. But if you would like to be really good at what you do, and be a forerunner - you need to dare to run your own race. By this you will achive some specific values:

Do things, instead of looking at what others are doing
Too often we tend to spend too much time to watch the rest of the world. Both in a competitive situation, but also in non-competitive situations. As an example - I do have tons (1000+) of unread items in my feedreader. When I feel I have some time for a blog post, and a pretty good idea of what to write about, I still tend to just "peak at the feeds" for some additional inspiration, or to make not to miss something.
If I instead took the time to write those blog posts that have been cooking a while in my mind, and has a more or less complete outline ready, you would find new posts here more frequently.
This can be appleed in many areas. In other words, put just some extra affort on "execute", and things will start to roll a bit faster. I'm sure you will still have all the information and knowledge you need available.
And don't get me wrong, I value all the feeds I subscribe to. They are (more or less :-) carefully selected, and a great source of inspiration, knowledge and recreation.

Set your own rules, define the game
If you set the game rules yourself, you have all the possibility to define a game which you both enjoy and are very good at. Even the best!
Again, this applies to many areas. Again I will use my blogging experience as an example:

This is my blog. I set the rules.

Among the rules are that you are invited. Please leave a comment if you agree to what I write in a post. Even better, leave a comment if you disagree! You may comment on anything. You may wish for posts on a specific topic. Just leave a comment. Or contact me any other channel you find that seems to lead to me. Approach me in person. Look me up on Facebook or other social networks. Part of my rules is that you may influence me, interact with me and my blog. Part of my rules is that you can influence my set of rules.

Where does this put me and this blog?

Well, to you it might put the blog among tons of similiar ones. You might follow it regulary, drop by occationally or just happen to pass by. Doesn't matter to me, you are welcome whatever type of visitor you are. That's part of your game, it's your rules. It is your rules that decides if you will return or not. Your rules decides if you will comment or interact with me and this blog in any way. Your rules decides if you would like to influence my rules.

But to me it puts my blog, and my activity here, as best in class. My class.
And I have a number of other blogs. All with their own set of rules. No written rules in most cases (one excpetion is obviously the rules I just defined above :-)

Not all rules are mine...
...after all. Rules that you can argue are not my own. These are to a large degree defined by the context.
As an example I also have a blog on the intranet where I work, and clearly there is a set of applicable, written, guidelines and rules not set by me.
Another obvious set of rules are those of "common sense and good behaviour". These are to some extent set by my judgement, but to a very large extent set by the society as a whole.

And in some games you can't set all rules yourself, at least if you would like to participate. Going back to the Olympics - you can't invent the rules yourself.
But - you can influence them! Some of the Olympic rules are solely in the mindsets of the athletes (you did read Dr. Mani's post that I referred to in the beginning, or?).
And the rules of some sports do change over time. Often influenced by an individual athlete who in an innovative way bent the existing rules.
Finaly I believe the host country for each Olympic Game are allowed to add a sport of their choice (correct me if I'm wrong) - effectively influencing the overall rules of the game.

I strongly believe that this applies to most areas one way or another. I have used blogging, and this blog as an example. There's two reasons for this.
First - of course the context (and my rules ;-) - this is a blog, and to blog about blogging is a good blog topic for me as a blogger (on this blog at least :-)).
Secondly - today I participated in several good discussions around blogging. Much about why, how, what rules etc. But also about who. At one stage the question "who do you like to see blog?" was raised. My answer is simple. You.

Go out there and run for yourself. Set your own rules.

Start a blog. Start small. Start several times with different rules until you find a game that suits you.
And if I like the game I will gladly participate. On my rules.

Now, this post turned out a bit different that I intended when I started to write a few hours ago. Doesn't matter, my rules...

Finally, if I would take Dr.Mani's post litterally I would hit unsubscribe now in my feedreader. I haven't yet, again my rules apply, not the rules of Dr. Mani.

Now go out and set your rules. Run your own race. You don't have to, it's up you you. And your rules.
I bet we will meet in the race track one way or another, just as we just met here. But remember, blogging is not a competition (unless you decide to make it one). It's a social activity.