Learning your craft

Embed from Getty Images

This week I have learnt the valuable lesson of learning your craft first, before starting on something you want to do. This week I have been reading a book on blogging and although nothing I have read has been groundbreaking stuff, I keep on having moments of saying to myself “why didn’t I do that” or “that makes sense.”

Writing a blog can seem like such an easy thing. You just sit in front of a computer, write what you are thinking about and then publish it for the world to see. The problem is that just because a blog post is on the Internet for the world to see, it doesn’t mean the world is seeing it. The two most important things with a blog have nothing to do with the words you type, the two most important things are being easy to find and making sure when people come, that they will want to stay and read other posts.

What do people come to your blog for?

I liked the example that was used in the book I was reading. It went something like this – Say you were searching for a recipe on the Internet and you stumbled upon one on a blog, you click the link, you like the recipe but you see other posts and the blog seems to be about the life of the family… lets call them the Smith’s. You don’t know them so you don’t care about their last holiday and at the moment you are in a recipe finding mood, not a mood for finding out about a family you don’t know or care about.

I wish I had taken time before I started this blog all those years ago to think why people would come and what would make them say. I think in life many of us are so eager to just get going with things that we rush in to things. The problem is with something like a blog, everything about it is your image, your brand and you can’t take it back. So if you go wrong to start with, you can’t take it back.

Don’t rush in

So over the next few weeks I am going to be trying to teach myself not to rush in to things, to learn from this experience and make every new start the best it can be. There are already blogs about everything on the internet, putting off launching for a few months isn’t going to affect you but not starting it right might have a huge impact.

Back to School

Embed from Getty Images

There seems to be a rise at the moment in the number of training and educational courses available for people to take these days online, in classrooms and through distance learning. Running courses has become a big industry and big business, with many new companies starting to run them.

Bettering yourself

I am a huge fan of people who want to learn more and want to do something to better themselves, either just for themselves or to help them in to a better or different career. I think learning shouldn’t stop when you finish school, college or university. Many of us learn things by ourselves without being on a course, which is great also but sometimes I think it is good to have a syllabus to follow and a qualification at the end of it, to recognise the learning that you have done.

A few years back I took my Certificate in Fundraising through the Institute of Fundraising here in the UK. I already knew a lot about fundraising but it was fun to put that knowledge to the test, to learn more and have my knowledge of the subject recognised with their certificate.

Choice

The problem with the proliferation of courses available, is finding the courses and providers that are quality and that are worthwhile doing. There are many companies out there who want to take your money and get you on a course, so you need to be careful what you invest in. Before picking a course you should take time to think about what you want to study and what you want to get out of your study.

When choosing what course to do, you want to know what you will actually be covering on the course and what people who have done the course before you have gone on to do and what they have got out of it. If your reason for study is to get on another course or to get a job, you need to be sure that your course is recognised by the institution or company you want to move on to next.

For many people the cost of studying can put them off. If you fall in to this category I have some advice. First thing is to look and see if there is any funding available to pay your course fees? If there isn’t can you put together a savings plan to help you cover the cost? Lastly is to look at what you earning potential might be if you had the qualification to work out if a loan was a sensible thing to take out to cover the cost.

Cost barrier

If paying for a course is out of the question, why not have a look at free courses that are available. There are many to choose from online and there may be some happening in your area. Learning is fun so don’t let money be a barrier to it.

I always want to learn more about the world around me and the things within it, so I am a big believer in studying just for enjoyment. I think studying and being successful on courses can make you feel better about yourself, which is something that everyone can do with in their life. So even if you can’t think of a reason to do a course, sometimes the only reason you need is because you want to. Never forget that there is always more to learn.

When was the last time you helped someone?

Embed from Getty Images

I think helping someone is one of the greatest acts of kindness you can perform. Doing something to help someone else is like making an investment. By helping someone you are giving something to improve something. Time is an asset we all have and time is something we all have the power to give away.

So many people go through their day without helping anyone, which I think is quite sad. Giving help doesn’t have to be big, it can be as little as just stopping in your car to let someone cross the road. The great thing is that anything from the smallest act of kindness to the biggest can gain the same reaction…a smile.

Change the world

The one way that nearly all the human population has at their disposal to change the world for the better is performing acts of kindness. Sometimes the world seems so out of control and you can start thinking ‘well what can I do?’ Acts of kindness are something we can all control and although we can’t control what will happen after the act of kindness, I truly believe the more kinder we become as a world the more change we can make.

Whether you realise it or not, most of us in this world will be on the receiving end of acts of kindness in our lifetime. I believe it is so important to be aware of this and use this knowledge to sew acts of kindness back in to others. Sadly too many people are too blind or too egotistical to acknowledge the kindness they have received and believe that they achieved everything they have in their life by themselves.

Building communities

One thing kindness builds is communities. When we go out of our way to help those around us, relationships are built and togetherness is formed. An act of kindness is an investment in to the lives of others. If you want to improve your community, you have to get involved in it, you have to be the one to start being kind to others for that kindness to start rubbing off on others and a kindness snowball can start to grow.

So my word of advice for everyone out there this week, is to not let it go too long since you last helped someone, the longer that time builds the less effective you are being in the world. Recently I was on the receiving end of amazing kindness when people backed my book project financially, to help get it released in print form and I am determined to pay that kindness forward.

Taking pride and not shame

Over the last year I have noticed even more than before, that people are really starting to invest in themselves and are feeling strong enough to share it with the world. Things that people wouldn’t have talked about as much in the past, are now things people feel proud to share. With the rise in social media it is ‘Trolling’ that grabs the headlines but I think amongst friends, social media has been a key tool for people to feel good about themselves and get support.

In the UK we have clubs like ‘Weight Watchers’ and ‘Slimming World’ that people can join in an effort to get their weight down and get fitter.

http://www.slimmingworld.com/

http://www.weightwatchers.co.uk/index.aspx

These clubs have been around for years, but one thing I have noticed this year, is that many people are sharing on social media that they are going and after they go they are updating their social media platforms with a status or a photo of their success. These updates then tend to get a lot of likes and positive comments from people they are connected with.

Support

I think the more we can do to support people who want to improve themselves, the better. That kind word or that like may be all that person needs to start something or to keep going. Lets try and not scroll past updates about people wanting to improve themselves, lets get behind them, it takes all but a few seconds to do and could make a lifetime of difference for that person.

If someone you know is trying a new skill lets encourage those first efforts. If someone is taking a cooking class or a pottery class, lets praise their first efforts regardless of what they look or taste like. If someone you know is taking a course to help them find employment, lets take the time to motivate them to keep going when the course is getting hard and exams are looming.

If you have a friend that is starting a creative project like making music, making art or writing a blog, lets support them with viewing or listening to their project and sharing it with your friends. In these ventures the best way to help them is to help increase the size of their audience and spread the word.

The power of a kind word

Just never underestimate the power that your words and actions have on other people. That email, that text, that post can all make a difference. I have found in life that if you support others, others will support you and you will find yourself in a more supportive group of friends and acquaintances.

Sharing in the success of others is a very uplifting thing to do. Doing this can help make you feel happier and can spur you on to try and achieve things in your own life. The only way we can achieve more and to achieve better is by trying and that is the thing we need to be applauding. Lets forget about the end goal for a minute and what might happen later, as nothing will ever happen if we never try.

We need to encourage as many people as possible to try things and then once we’ve done this, we then need to encourage people to keep on trying and to try other things. If someone tries something once they might not succeed but if he or she keeps on trying they will increase their chance of success by a massive percentage.

Embed from Getty Images

Combating ‘Trolling’

The best way to combat ‘Trolling’ is building people up and not breaking them down. Before anyone has the chance to say something negative about someone or what he or she is doing, get in there first with a positive comment.

It is hard not to worry about what other people are going to say when you try to do something, but you have to keep remembering why you want to do it and what you want to achieve. It is important that we don’t let the words of people that don’t want you to succeed, dictate how your life is going to play out, because if we stop trying after the first negative word we may never try again.

Always remember there is no shame in trying to improve yourself, your situation and the world around you.