I want to tell you a story about running.
About 15 years ago, my friend invited me for a 5:00 am morning lap around the Savannah, a circular park in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, that occupies about 260 acres of level land and is about 3.5 km right around.
Of course, I said yes. It seemed like fun. I pictured us chatting as we ran with a cool 5 a.m breeze wafting at the nape of my neck. I imagined we’d get coconut water after the first lap and maybe fuel up for the next.
I had never run the Savannah before but driving around it on my daily commute from my home to office, running seemed graceful and pretty easy. Boy, was I wrong!
Ten minutes into the run that morning, I couldn’t keep up.
I developed a stitch on my lower left side that felt like a serrated fist punching my abdominal wall. 15 minutes later my legs decided they didn’t know how to function.
It wasn’t long after that I decided that my hobble was better than my gait.
40 minutes later I collapsed on a concrete bench in EXHAUSTION, right next to the coconut vendor where I thought I’d be standing after an easy jog.
A Three Mile Run
The first person that sat next to me after my ‘fail’ of an attempt was Negative Nancy. Maybe you know her, maybe you have one of your own?
She’s my inner critic and she appears during my low points and always with a bag of salt.
“You’re just not athletic.” “You’re not a runner.” “You’re not fit.” “Go home.”
But in fact, I was none of the above.
The truth was unlike my friend who invited me for a run that morning, I had never run 3.5 km in my life. (Now I know those fifteen-minute jogs on the treadmill did not count for much)
My friend, on the other hand, had run marathons in NYC, enjoyed snowy morning jogs in big cities and when she returned to Trinidad did savannah laps at least 4 times a week.
I never did any of that. I never even knew people trained for running, ate for running, lived for running even at the recreational level
Sure a group of us went to the gym, consistently too, but the competency that comes from the practice of running in order to shave minutes off your miles or just inhale clean, crisp morning air and feel as if you could take on the world was not something I was frankly interested in.
Until I decided to do it.
When You Run Or Learn To Do Anything New, You Realise Success Is Just A Practice
Here’s the learning. Success is a practice.
If you ask someone to run 2 laps around the Savannah when they’ve never run 10 minutes in their life, they will struggle and collapse onto a concrete bench.
But if you tell them to walk a block once and then add another block onto a block the next week, and later turn a brisk walk into a jog, chances are they will probably run a Savannah effortlessly 2 months later.
It’s all in the practice. But to assume once you try something and fail at it that you were not cut out to do it in the first place is like Negative Nancy on 10 X.
At best it is an attribution error and yet it’s something I see people do a lot when they transition their business from offline to online.
“I’m not a good content planer.”
“I’m not that great at doing Lives.”
“I have no idea how to build a funnel.”
“I am not at good at online sales.”
Whenever I hear other people- ok small biz owners say that- my head goes right back to my first Savannah lap when I hobbled to the end.
You are not a bad content planner. You’re not bad at online marketing. You are not a terrible digital entrepreneur.
What you are is unpracticed. Remember what I said about success? It’s a repeat, a learn and go again system. It’s not a Maybelline ad, you’re not always born with it.
Getting Good With Your Online Work
How do I know this? Well, intuitively, as a human, I know I crawled before I walked. And as a business owner, it’s because I practice.
This is how I can now keep pace with my friend without getting a stitch or hyperventilating on a concrete bench.
Slowly, and over time, I trained my body through practice and what I learned from that is that everyone can train their mind to learn what they want and become who they want to be.
Let me bring it home now to content creation, digital marketing, and selling online.
You weren’t born knowing how to create profitable content or build an email automation sequence or use social media to sell your products and services and that’s ok. But it doesn’t mean you can’t get really good at it.
Those who do, work at it. They practice. They get good at trying things that might not work and figuring out what will.
I’ve been writing this email to you every week for over 15 years. I’ve been publishing on the internet in the same time frame.
I became a digital entrepreneur figuring this online world 7 years ago. Before that, I led sales and business development at the PR firm Mango Media Caribbean.
When I started my PR firm so many years ago, to win a project I would literally write out ten different strategies that I thought a competing firm would come up with until I figured out my own pitch and what would make mine different and outstanding.
Practicing May Suck But Oh, The Results
That’s how I got better. It’s how you can too.
Now I am not saying any of this is easy.
Practicing is not FUN for some. It takes time and discipline plus it’s hard. You have to learn to laugh at yourself in order not to cry. You make mistakes and go again, you do things “left” and “right,” and you get better.
But you DO get better.
Take from me as I Iace up my Adidas, put on my mask, and head out for an evening run. And you? You go practice.