Out Of My Comfort Zone

by Marc Winitz

Out of my comfort zoneSometimes you just need to walk down a different path. To move away from your comfort zone temporarily to get a new perspective. I started Black Belt Guide at the beginning of this year as a vehicle for sharing my own thoughts and experiences of martial arts study and practice as a powerful form of personal development. There is a lot of personal development advice offered on the web. And some of it is pretty good. But a lot of it is lacking simply because those offering it don’t have a basis for really having done any of the long term work required to make change on a personal level. And by extension some of that advice just doesn’t sit well with me. Not that I know it all, I don’t. But I have found over the last year by visiting other blogs in the personal development space, something is really missing here.

Intense Learning on a Personal Level
I decided to talk a hiatus, a three month break from blogging. It’s not recommended, or particularly a good idea when you are building a blog and an audience. But I felt that while I enjoyed blogging and writing things I found to be important to me, I only wanted to do it if I had something to say. Nothing forced or unnatural. One of the other reasons I started this blog has been to learn about Web 2.0 technology and the social web. Again, not participating in it for three months may have not been the best move on one level, but I decided to channel my efforts into a new path, learning about search engine optimization (SEO), community engagement, web strategy, and working with video for social media (check out my new video).

I have spent a lot of my spare time over the last three months understanding these areas and I think they will have a direct impact on the new direction of my blog.

Being of Like Minds Stunts Growth
Honestly, I was lost for the first six months writing this blog. The content I generated was good as I received very positive feedback from a lot of people about what I was saying. I wanted the blog to grow so I commented on other peoples blogs hoping to drive traffic from “like minded” communities. The problem is that I wasn’t particularly crazy about a lot (not all) of the blogs I visited. Commenting became a chore. And I didn’t agree with the idea that I had to be part of a particular community (e.g. the self development community) for this blog to be effective. I have a lot of interests and read a lot of blogs, but they are not all self development. And I don’t see it as necessary to read other personal or self development blogs for this one to be successful (unless I really want to read them).

Step Away So You Can Re-Engage
I viewed this as hitting a wall from a martial arts training perspective so I decided to stop doing what I was doing (which was sort of working) and to go off on another path. Just like in a dojo setting, when something isn’t working how you want it to, sometimes the best approach is simply to step away from what you are working on, train on something else for awhile and then go back at a later point and re-engage. It’s actually the same idea in combat (or sparring). If you keep getting scored on in the ring by your opponent’s round house kick (which means he/she can get to you before you can close the distance to make a kick effective) you need to try another strategy, to see another opening. That’s what I have done by taking a break with this blog.

On a go forward basis, I plan to do the following on Black Belt Guide:

  1. Only post when I have something I want to say that I think is important. The quantity of posts is not particularly important to me;
  2. Post on a wider variety topics. While this blog is devoted to personal development, it’s also my personal blog. I may post on technology, travel, cooking, charity, green living, all the things that interest me – I’ll just do it from a Black Belt Guide perspective.

Initially my idea was to write on the core topics that martial artists develop through training over long periods of time. Things like discipline, motivation and teaching. I am not walking away from that, I am just going the broaden the topics I want to write about.

Thanks for Your Patience
If you have been a reader of my blog, I appreciate the time you have spent to come by and spend a few minutes to read what I write. I am sure my audience has dwindled since I took a break without explanation, but I felt it more important to disconnect from the social web and go look at other methods and ideas, and develop some new skills I can apply to this blog to make it more effective and meaningful for me personally.

Photo by divemasterking2000

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