On Working From the Middle // Hint: no one has it all figured out.

Can I tell you a little secret?

No one has it all figured out. 

Those gurus who sell you the magic sauce to help you improve your life or business or relationships? I'll bet you all my earthly belongings that they're going through something that has them feeling like a novice. That doesn't make them less worthy of your time, mind you. It just makes them human. And those internet-famous guys and gals who have millions of likes and follows and random metrics on which they gauge their success? They don't have it all figured out either and they're constantly worrying about how they put their life out into the world.

Here's my secret sauce: I try to remind myself that we're all all just learning, growing and (hopefully) becoming better humans as we go along. We're always working from the middle of life.

I only have one more sleep until I hit the ripe old age of 32 and, I must say, I'm finally letting that knowledge sink in. 

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Let's take my my podcast, for example. I started the show thinking, "This will be fun! I have no clue what I'm doing, but let's just all hang out and share stories, okay?"

I didn't do any of the things podcast marketing pros tell you to do. I didn't pre-record a bunch of episodes so I could trick the iTunes algorithm into thinking I was worthy of the New & Noteworthy section. I didn't beg my guests to share their interview (though most do... thank you for that, by the way). For months I resisted the urge to aggressively seek iTunes reviews (which is another way iTunes knows that the show is worth putting on their front page) and while I really do appreciate the love from listeners, I still find myself not caring what the iTunes robots think of the show.

Audio quality is something I struggle with every time I record. If you've listened to the show, you know I record from various locations, have both in-person and remote guests and that no two set-ups are really the same. I'm a storyteller not a sound tech, but because I've loved sharing stories in this way I'm forcing myself to learn more—to become better.

I've said way too many "ums," "mmmhhhhmmms" and—as someone mentioned in the feedback section of a recent survey— too many "I gotchas." This is also something I'm working on, but here's the thing: no one said I was a shoo-in for radio. I really enjoy having conversations with my guests and as much as I try not to interrupt them, sometimes my enthusiasm for their story or my innate need to let them know I connect to what they're saying takes over. Hence the affirming phrases. 

After 14 interviews (the latest episode goes live this Thursday) and countless hours learning, editing and, yes, cursing—I'm still figuring things out. Some people would have told me not to put out any episodes until I had all my podcasting ducks in a row, but I may have never started had I done that. Can you imagine not hearing from people like Colin Delehanty and Sheldon Neill about the amazingness that is Project Yosemite or from Sofia Lacin and Hennessy Christophel about why cities need public art or from Gina Begin about the importance of pushing through the tough times?

I certainly can't. 

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Listen, I'm not saying we should all just flounder around and start projects we have no business starting—especially if we don't have the drive and passion to grow them and improve our ability to deliver good content, services, products, etc.

No. I'm saying that sometimes we just have to start from wherever we are, gather feedback, take what we need and leave behind the unnecessary in an effort to get where we want to go. And guess what? Once we get there, we'll realize that there is still work to be done! Because we're all still growing and learning—and then growing and learning some more.

So here's to the "ummm-ers" and the "mmmmhhhmmm-ers—and even those who appreciate an affirming head nod accompanied by the words "I gotcha" now and again. You're working from the middle and the rest of us are too. Just start... I promise you'll figure it out as you go along.

For that matter, let's just all figure it out together, okay?

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p.s. Speaking of starting... I'm writing a book. 



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