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What do you really want out of life? Now what's stopping you?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How to Write the Perfect Blog Post

Surprisingly few of my friends have an ongoing blog. Sure there are the social tools like Facebook, but there are remarkably few who bother to write anything at all. Sad really, as blogging has little input costs apart from time and its not for a lack of connectivity in Zimbabwe. Maybe they feel that they have nothing to share (generally not true of people) or they don’t know how. Getting started is simple, sustaining your writing and getting noticed on the web are two different things.

There are multiple views on how to write the perfect post-are you aiming for grammatical prowess, recognition, number of hits or giving the right information? The first thing to realise is that you can’t reach or please everyone at once. My advice would be to target a niche, a specific audience and write too them.

Decide on a title. Search engines like simple headings that include the key words that people will search for, e.g.’write’, ‘blog’ ‘post’ will target a population hoping to improve their blogging skills. Fun titles work as well, and can be attractive to people who pick up the keywords from your text. E.g ‘The Price tag of Death’ is morbid but possibly enticing. Take your pick.

Then write. I mean it that simply-write. Put what you want to say on the screen. Don’t worry about punctuation (yet), just have fun. Enjoy it. Don’t try force it out, just flow. That’s why I recommend you write about something you enjoy, that ignites you. Punctuation can be checked later. Web punctuation is not essential, but just makes things better to read.

Writing is a process and can be developed. If you are planning on doing it for any length of time invest in it a bit. Use new words once in a while. I often type up in word before copying the text to Blogger, and use the thesaurus function to change a few expressions here and there. Study other blogs, Blogs of Note is a good place to start. See what they do that makes them stand out or be significant, then plagiarise. Then take it a step futher and improvise, maybe you’ll start the next trend on the web.

A couple of guidelines about the text.
1. Include links. Blogs are network tools, use them.
2. Do not name drop unless you are specifically blogging about that person, it makes it irritating for those of us looking for specific information. So do not refer to blonde bimbo/icons or recently dead Australian actors unless you are blogging about them. That said accidents do happen, I once included, unintentionally, two names at separate places in a post which when combined added up to the name of an adult film actor who happened to be in the news. My ‘referring links’ tool on my Statcounter picked up the anomaly, and after a little judicious investigation I got a bit of a shock, ah well, we learn. No I’m not telling you which one, you can work it out for yourself one day. That aside if you are writing about the bookkeeping practices of Hampstead Heath you will be forgiven by people looking for articles on Mr. Ledg...r.
3. Photos, videos, anything. Break up the blankness once in a while with something different, preferable relevant, but hey it all helps.

At the end of the day have fun. Search for and find that internal satisfaction that comes from posting something you are proud of. Length is irrelevant, just say what you want to say and enjoy it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


My gran passed away yesterday at the ripe age of 81 (odd euphemism that, ‘ripe age’). Many could argue that gran was dealt a bit of a bad hand in life; she lost her husband after being married for 8 short years and had to raise 3 children on her own in a nation under sanctions for most of that period. One thing I can say, though, is that gran exhibited a high degree of tenacity to her vision. When she was widowed she was left to pay off the mortgage on her house, and pay it off she did despite the odds. She lived in that house for over 50 years. She could have left for ‘greener’ pastures, given up and rented accommodation but she stuck to her guns, not without sacrifice to achieve it, and persevered.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Another Zimbabwean Week.

What a week! I taught three new subjects to two junior high classes this week. Despite having worked with teenagers for a number of years, teaching a class of them is a little more daunting, but a lot of fun. I am amazed at their capacity to learn and to absorb information. There is so much information available to them these days that it is little wonder that they have the capacity to absorb and filter through so much.

Talking of the preponderance of information on the web, I finally came across Seth Godin’s blog while sifting through the vast, seething tide of cyberspace. The ease with which humour, relevance and wisdom from his keyboard is inspiring, I guess I just like his style. Have a look if you haven’t already.

Oh and we had a 20 hour nationwide powercut saturday-sunday, there was a power flow reversal that tripped a whole bunch of power stations in the region, don't know all the technical details but not fun I assure you. Power's back now, well intermittently so at least a hot bath, oh the decadance of luxury.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Watch what you say

I received a gentle correction the other day. I had fallen into the habit of replying to the common greeting ‘How are you?’ with ‘Not too bad, thanks.’ The point of contention was on my use of the double negative. The focus on the negative ‘bad’ rather than saying ‘I’m good thanks,’ leaves a poor resonance on your soul. ‘Out of a man’s heart, so he speaks’, the double negative infers that my thoughts were probably not where they could be. Thoughts determine actions, and if I am continually reinforcing a negative emotion every time someone greets me then it’s going to build up eventually.

Armed with this knowledge I observed the rest of my speech for the next few days. Oh horrors, the double negative was everywhere! How was business?-‘not too bad thanks’, How is your head?-‘not as sore as it was’, How did the presentation go?-‘not a total disaster. There was a virtual minefield of them scattered liberally throughout my vocabulary. It was as though someone had slowly replaced my tongue with another. Some serious de-mining was called for. The next time someone greeted my I almost bit my tongue off to stop the reaction. ‘Not too…ah, actually I’m good thanks.’ The next time I forgot, hit myself over the head, and succeeded in the next dozen or so consecutive responses.

Since then my speech has been a little sweeter, a lot more positive and better constructed. Rather than being just out the starting blocks, I am now well on my way to a better vocabulary.

Friday, January 04, 2008

A Learning Curve

Every made a mistake, done something wrong, not done something to the best of your capacity, failed at anything? If so then join the rest of the universe in 5 seconds of communal pity and anxiety before moving on to better things. Mistakes is a sensitive issue, dwell on them too much and you get stuck wallowing in the self pity of the past, ignore them completely and you fail to learn from them valuable wisdom.

Me, I’ve had my fair share. I could probably write a fair sized book on ‘how not to run your business’. I think I’ve made every business error under the sun, and a few that weren’t there before. They never taught you how to run a business at physio school, after all you were supposed to become a neat little manikin treating unimaginable volumes of patients for the government hospital system, never querying anything or having wicked, non-conformist thoughts of independent health care. So I learnt business the hard way. First mistake! Learn from others’ hard ways-ask the right people for the best advice.

That said, the practice has survived thus far, although it has been touch and go at times. I am still recovering from some errors and have learnt and adapted things as the result of others. The best advice I was given was ‘charge what you are worth.’ It’s taken me 2 long and foolish years to get there-never let a third party (eg medical aid/insurance) determine your value for you. So embrace your mistakes, learn from them and then relegate them and their negative emotions to the back of your mind and with fresh perspicacity embrace a brighter future.

To finish off, a quote by James Allen-“You will become as great as your dominant aspiration. If you cherish a lofty ideal in your heart, you will realize it.”

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Purpose, passion and the New Year

The New Year is but a few hours old and my mind is already abuzz with ideas to write. It’s amazing how sometimes you can be stuck for a topic and at other times have to decide between 3 or 4 different ideas.

I guess I’ll start with purpose this year. People strive for significance, to be greater than they are and to leave an impact in some manner that extends beyond the scope of their lifespan. I mean, think about it, the idea that in the grand scheme of time you are but a breath and will be forgotten by the majority within a few short years after your death is a rather unpleasant concept. Somehow in the whole quest for significance comes the idea of purpose-that there is something that you are set to do, by fate, society, a higher conscience, the universe, God-take your pick. Now it’s a large leap for some people and there are those who believe that you create your own purpose. For me though, I take the first option, that there is a purpose to my life in which I will find fulfilment (not necessarily without a struggle though). “Oh my gosh, I have a purpose, I have to find it out or I will fail!”-panic, major psychological trauma! Relax it’s not that bad, I think.

While the fine tuning may take a while the chances are you are already in some manner living out a part of your purpose, whether it be; to make people laugh, to collect ideas, to challenge others to higher levels of life, to create new inventions. It’s that part of you that you get an inner ‘yes!’ from, the part of you that feels passionately about a task, situation, group of people and when you are involved in it you feel energised and in your ‘zone’. Someone asked me how close passion and purpose were linked-I’d say he hit it right on the head. Purpose aside, passion is a great help. Let’s take the scenario where purpose doesn’t exist and you still want to achieve sustained success and significance. You are more likely to succeed and stick with something that energises and invigorates you, and success promotes future success. Taking on things that you are passionate about is the key to this, as well as keeping to a minimum those things that are passion killers. Imagine a day where all you do, every minute of the day, is achieve a level of fulfilment and satisfaction from doing things you love. Imagine the buzz, the thrill, the joy. It’s not as far fetched as you may think.

PS Here are the Kariba pics