What I learn from messing up with mashing up

May 15, 2008 by

Messing up or mashing up?

Robert Hruzek has initiated projects title “What I Learn From” or WILF, it’s a group writing project where you are given a challenge about what you have learned from a certain topic. The topic is changed every month, and this month’s is “What I Learn from… Mashing It Up!”

Mashing it up!? It’s a new word for me too. Initially I was just reminded of mashed potato as well, wondering if it’s the same thing. And strange… it’s not! Here is Robert’s definition on mashing it up…

It’s where somebody combines two or more things together and produces something really really good.
~Robert Hruzek

What have I mashed up? Or maybe messed up?

I guess I have mashed up or maybe messed around with this blog. You may notice that I have been experimenting the past 1 month. I started guest post exchange, group writing project, marketing review, and the latest is the product review. Supposedly, I wanted to increase my traffic and subscribers. On the other hand, my subscription is more or less the same for the past 1 month, few people unsubscribe, none participates in the project, and emotionally I’m very disappointed as well.

The lesson

Stay to the course, young man!
~Donald Miller (Making Sales Making Money)

That was a response to my article Money and Blogging, the Opportunity and the Dilemma. Donald warned me that I sounded as if I was justifying what I have done with the gray area I’m working on.

Stay to the course?

That reminded me of the recent movie The Golden Compass. There is an interesting concept I observed inside the movie. In the story, each human is accompanied by a spirit called the daemon. It goes with them everywhere they go. It appears in the form of animal. And interestingly, the daemon of a child keeps changing while the daemon of adults stays the same.

How about your daemon?
Okay, let’s get cleared. I don’t think that we have this kind of daemon in real life. So let’s take it as an analogy to the focus of our activities that we have at the moment.

In one side, having a changing daemon is good. Watching the movie, I pity those that the daemon stays the same. The servants will have dogs and cannot do anything about it. On the other hand, the bad guys got wild and night creatures such as snake or owl. Those are the deceptive animals, reflecting their characters and behaviors. And the worst part, they don’t think of changing.

In another side, changing daemon might show that you are unreliable. People hired you, people get your products or services, people read your articles, and all are expecting some values you provide. People have some expectation from you, and change will make some people disappointed. They may see you indecisive, or maybe greedy.

On the question of changing or not changing, it’s really hard to answer. That will depend very much on the circumstances you are around, as well as your goal and vision. This post is not about choosing which one is better. This post is going to share about exploration and the risks it carries. What you have to do when you have messed up. It’s all based on my own experience of messing up because of mashing it up.

Exploration and mistakes

Exploration is risky, and you are bound to make mistakes here and there. Despite of the unfavorable result, we are actually able to take a better perspective on mistakes. Here is what CK Reyes from Divine Purpose Unleashed shared about mistakes…

Ordinarily, I would say that there are no mistakes. And, to be totally honest this is true! Everything teaches you something, if you let it. Every choice is a walk on the path of your life that will lead you somewhere. Each choice you make will give you an experience.
~CK Reyes (Do you make this huge mistake?)

There are no mistakes? Yes, as long as you make it as a lesson. As CK puts it, some choices make us feeling happy or sad, peace or chaos. But are we learning from them?

More tips: Jonathan Frye from Leadership Jot shared an article on how to respond to failures.

Exploration and guilty

Naturally, I’m a very cautious person. Some people may even see it as pessimistic. Many times I take things too much personally, and unfortunately, that occurs to me again during this experience. Lack of comments, unsubscription, lack of response, stumbles, etc makes me start judging myself. I’m feeling guilty and getting critical of myself.

Everything has no meaning unless the meaning that you give into it.
~Joyce Meyer

She experienced it before. During one of her congregation, someone left her event just after she spoke for few minutes. She was distracted from that particular person and she is getting critical about herself, her speech and that person. Eventually, she found out that the person actually had no time to attend the service because of some important matters. And yet, the person came, trying her best to come and listen at least a part of Joyce’s message.

The lesson: There are multiple perspective from which we can see things, and often the meanings we put on them are not accurate enough.

Give people benefit of doubt.
That’s really a profound suggestion that I have ever heard. Believe the good intention that people has. It’s not only helpful for them; it’s even healthier for you. Do not put too much meaning into the response you get! That way, you will enjoy your everyday life.

Exploration and justification

Do what you believe in and don’t feel like you have to justify your actions to anybody. In the long run your readers will decide what they want to read.
~Tim Brownson

Tim shared his thought on my monetization dilemma article as well. He got a point there about justifying our actions.

Exploration, as I shared above, prone to have critique. Some people that used to know you will be disappointed with you. You are no longer reliable for them, you are no longer meeting their expectation, and they are prone to leave you, or maybe your blog, your service and products.

Instead of justifying, accept the fact that not all people will like what you do, or even what you are. You cannot please everyone; you simply have to do what you believe in. Instead of trying to make a fan club, go and improve yourself as what Craig Harper shared in his article I Don’t Like You.

The only person I can change is me, so I’ll focus on improving, educating and developing myself rather than trying to create a fan club or convince people to like me.
~Craig Harper (I Don’t Like You)

Exploration and transparency

Concluding the three points above, you don’t have to be afraid on making mistakes, feeling guilty about it and justifying them. Those are important points; however, relying on the three mindsets above alone will not be helpful in maintaining the trust from your followers.

While we tend to judge ourselves by our intent, we tend to judge others by their behavior.
~Stephen M.R. Covey (The Speed of Trust)

Exploration tends to hurt your followers’ trust because they judge us from our behavior. We, on the other hand, are able to justify our behavior because we believe in our intent.

How do you gain trust back from your followers?
Transparency is something that I find very helpful in this situation. Sharing your intent will help others to understand the reason why you are doing what you are doing. Still, not all people will agree or like your intent, but at least they have another reference points from which to trust us back or not. That is also what I’m trying to do in writing my article Money and Blogging, The Opportunity and The Dilemma.

Exploration and the big picture

If I Had Something to Say
Creative Commons License photo credit: re_birf

Not all exploration worth doing. If you need a guide on deciding what to explore, I will recommend the article from Scott H. Young, How to Stop Wasting Your Energy.

Will I care about this five years later?
If the answer is no, the problem isn’t important. If doing nothing or working hard on this activity will make no difference in five years, it isn’t important.
~Scott H. Young (How to Stop Wasting Your Energy)

On deciding whether to explore or not, think about the big picture, dream, goal, and vision that you have! As what Tim reminded me, do what you believe in. Do something that you will not regret doing 5 years down the road. Pursue your goal and your success begins now. Even if you do not know, and still searching for your calling and purpose, it will get clearer as you move. The important point is to begin.

Vision is not enough; it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps; we must step up the stairs.
~Vaclav Havel

Mistakes or failures? As what CK shared, there are no mistakes, as long as you learn from them. Robert Hruzek even got a series of group writing project on what you can learn from all sorts of experience. You can check all the contributors here and you can be one of them.

What’s your opinion on mistakes, exploration and focus? Why do you think I’m stuck for the past 1 month? Please do share your opinion and feedback.

Keep on learning,

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  1. CK

    Robert, You say that the meaning we give are not accurate *enough* and I would leave off the last word. I love what Joyce says that there is no meaning but the one you attach to it. I have been saying this for sometime now. I am curious as to what you are making it mean about you that you aren’t getting the results that you want… (go deeper than what you have already shared.) As a coach who is 100% committed to supporting people in loving themselves and letting go of all outside expectations and self-sabotaging internal dialogues, I naturally want to know more about where this originates for you… Here is a suggestion: Make a list of 20 different meanings you could attach to your situation, then…just for fun…choose one that empowers you! How’s that for transformation? I dare you!

  2. Don

    Well said Ck , Robert thanks for your transparency in this post . It snot likely that you make a decision on anything without its inherent risk factor. Bad choices will naturally come, good choices as well. I have a saying that goes , you cant make yourself sick trying to make someone else well…………including yourself, Stay the Course!

    Dons last blog post..Building Bans in Bunches With Niche Store Writer

  3. Robert,

    When are are following our dreams we must do it for ourselves, not for the results we expect. When we move forward with passion and intention, then we can be fulfilled.. so.. I would say stay the course, and do what you love and keep writing. As for the money, make small corrections to monetization, keep writing, and do what makes you the happiest. It is YOUR blog…:) As you stay in the heart, you’ll get intuitive hits to try new things regarding $$$.

    Michelle Vandepass last blog post..Who Has the Answers To Living Your Divine Purpose? Not I

  4. Hi Robert,

    When we’re stuck it is because of competing desires. The trick is for us to find a way for both parts of ourselves to get what they want. Then we’re not fighting ourselves anymore and so we get unstuck.

    So my question to you is: what is it you want? What are the desires that are fighting each other? This is the place to start in getting unstuck.

    Evans last blog post..S & M

  5. It’s only through making mistakes that we learn. You are certainly not alone in wanting to experiment with your blog. The experts may tell you that it is a good idea to do a whole range of traffic strategies. But you still need to test these ideas yourself to see if they work for your unique circumstances.

    I find that I also learn a lot about myself through having a blog. I’ve also grown wiser. I avoid looking at my stats too closely, nor counting the number of feedback or comments that I have. I focus on the process of publishing good content. My belief is that the more I get too attached to the results, the more I get anxious. The more I become anxious, the less creative I become in generating article ideas. And when I force myself to write, the words just don’t flow!

    Thanks for sharing your article, nonetheless. Your honesty and authenticity shines through!


    Evelyn Lim | Attraction Mind Maps last blog post..8 Steps To Mental Housekeeping For A Happy Home

  6. Hi Robert,

    Thanks for sharing such a great article.

    In my opinion, mistakes and exploration are like adventures.

    Raymond Chuas last blog post..I KnowYour Secret

  7. Hey Robert!

    This is a great post! I felt like I was in your shoes for a while there! And I know how it feels like to be disappointed with the blog’s progress..

    But keep it going!

    There’s no such thing as mistakes or failures – they are all things that didn’t work =) And each single thing that didn’t work will bring you closer to what will!

    To Constant & Never-Ending Improvement,


    The World’s First Teen
    Personal Development Video Blogger

    SaiFs last blog post..Why Thinking Big Can Get You In Trouble If You Don’t Know This

  8. Robert …i have found along my bloggy path myself wondering alot …what am I doing? I also have gotten into the thought process of looking at other blogs and comparing – well they do this so maybe I should do that too. Like you I am cautious and like to watch a bit. I am learning that some of the greatests leaders in blogging really do promote a personalized, very individual – tried and true approach. Patient and persistant messages that are you are the most effective.

    Mother Earths last blog post..Natural Approaches to Menopause

  9. I always enjoy reading what you have to say
    I’ve been in similar stages lately – spreading myself thing with many things. Its always when I bring myself back to the heart of my blog that I feel the satisfaction I’m looking for

    Yes traffic is important and all of that. But “take care of home first”
    Thats what I promised myself

    (and thank goodness I figured out most of my admin stuff lol)

    Keep up the excellent writing Robert – this reader hasn’t forgotten about ya!

    JEMi | Tips for Life, Love, Yous last blog post..How to Work Amongst Difficult People


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