It's like that in life too, I reckon. It's like, when I decided I wanted to write, things that were around before suddenly actually make me sit up and take notice. Like all those Google ads and posts and groups on Facebook, and ads, and ... oh, that's just the internet's ultra-know-it-all-marketing-and-possibly-invading-your-private-life stuff.
But it does happen. You meet people who can give you opportunities. You hear things, and read things, and it's like the world is giving you the opportunity to get to where you want to be.
But here's the kicker, and it ain't a horse. Or a karate expert. It's you (NOTE: If you're a horse or a karate expert, it's still you!).
These opportunities come up ALL the time for EVERYONE! Don't listen to people who complain that they never get a chance to do anything, or complain that other people get so many opportunities. It's not true. The thing is, so many people don't SEE the opportunities, or if they see them, they don't see them for what they are. Or they DO see them for what they are but they don't do anything about it!
And so what was an opportunity becomes just another thing that happened that day.
Kicker number two is that if you do see an opportunity, and you do take advantage of it, you have to be ready. You have to have been putting in the work so that you are at a level that you feel confident getting out there and putting your best foot forward. If you do that, that first opportunity will lead to another ... and another ... and suddenly it is a massive snowball racing down the hill getting bigger and bigger and OH MY GOD THAT SNOWBALL WILL CRUSH US ALL!
(NOTE: It's not a real snowball. You'll be okay).
So keep alert and realise that opportunities and ideas are there, waiting for you to see it.
Sometimes you just have to open your eyes and really look.
This isn't anything new, really. We've always wanted to be seen, but Social Media has accelerated things to a point where it's like a billy kart racer going out of control down a hill and smashing and bursting into flames and giving the kid a broken arm ... which may also have happened in The Simpsons.
We just need more and more and more, and it's never enough, more, more, MORE!
At the start, 20 likes is enough. It's awesome. We're happy. It satisfies us. But, once we've had 20 likes on things for a while, or once we see someone else getting 30 likes, or once something we do only gets 10 likes, we want more. What was once enough, or even sometimes what was overwhelmingly too much, is suddenly routine, boring, insufficient.
So we crave more.
We up the ante.
We ask for more, either by flat out saying it, or by our mood, or by trying harder to be liked, noticed, acknowledged. And sometimes it works, and we get to 30 likes, and we're satisfied ... for a while.
Now, don't get me wrong, I totally believe we have to aim high, higher than ever before. I think that if you aren't trying to grow and improve then you may as well just be sitting around watching The Simpsons. It's just that when you base your entire self-worth on how many likes you get, on what other people think of you, it's a very shallow base and a very slippery slope.
See, the thing is, what other people think of you is irrelevant. You could do something, say put a post up on Instagram, and 50 people love it, 50 people hate it, 50 people couldn't care less about it, and 50 people don't see it because they're watching The Simpsons. So which of those people are right? Of course, we believe the ones who love it are right, and the others are fools who don't know what they're talking about, or they're just being mean, or they mustn't like you if they didn't even react to your post.
But what if you put something else up, and this time the people who loved the first thing hate this one? And the ones who hated the first thing love this one? And suddenly, the ones who loved the first thing wonder if they were right, going by this second one, and so now they don't even like the first thing as much any more. Suddenly the mean fools from before are the smart ones, and we crave more of their attention.
A ninja works hard to improve and grow for the sake of improving and growing. Their pride and satisfaction comes from their skills rising to an almost inhuman level, and from the knowledge they have given everything they can to doing a job as well as they can. They don't base their self-worth on what others think, because opinions can change in the blink of an eye. They simply do everything to the best of their ability and if people like it, well, that's awesome, and if they don't, well, that's life, right?
People love a song and after a while it becomes annoying. The song hasn't changed, the person has. So get out there, do the very best you can, be true to yourself and who you want to be, and let the rest take care of itself.
That's what ninjas do, and ninjas are what? Yeah they are, they're awesome!
It could be an ancient insult, something like, "Your breath smells like a goat's rear end." Yeah, I know, they were pretty polite with their insults back in the day. Still, if that's what that symbol actually says, it's not true. Your breath actually smells like vanilla flowers infused with coconut and berries.
So then. To today's topic; Being awesome! As usual, I wil base this on ninjas, but also on Steve Martin, who is an awesome comedian and movie star. I actually was just watching him in The Pink Panther. So funny.
He said, "Be so good they can't ignore you."
I think this is really important. As a writer, pretty much all I hear these days is build a following, get on social media, do this marketing, do that marketing, join this group, you must have Instagram ... all this is really important. If no one knows about your book, what's the point?
But is it the most important point?
I'm not so sure. When I was starting out as an author, I sent a letter to Andy Griffiths, who was and is my writing hero. I asked him things like how did he get to where he is today, things like that. He gave an amazing response, a really detailed email discussing a number of things, which I still have and which I re-read every now and again, but in the end what it boiled down to was this.
Work on your craft and make your writing as good as it can possibly be.
Which means, be so good they can't ignore you.
This isn't just for writing either. It's for whatever you love doing. This is totally what ninjas do. They work on their craft and they hone their skills until they seem other-worldly. And trust me, a ninja at the top of their game is pretty hard to ignore ... it's not easy to ignore a ninja star thrown from 32 metres away that goes straight up its intended target ... your left nostril!
So don't forget this. All the platforms and marketing and talking about your stuff doesn't matter if your stuff isn't good enough. And, in the end, that stuff - whether it's writing or dancing or footy or art or whatever - that's your passion, that's what you want to be doing, so why not do it as well as you possibly can? That way, even if you don't become superstar world-famous, you still get the satisfaction of creating something amazing, something you can truly be proud of.
And if you do, chances are someone will notice.
Okay, that's it for today. I'm off to go practice my ninja star throwing ... I mean, practice my, ummmm, spelunking!
Have an awesome week! BYE!
Life has ups and downs, no doubt about it. You can take the zombie route and when things go bad (i.e. a tasty brain you wanted to eat stays in a peson's head as they run away from you to freedom) you can grunt and scream and groan and probably have black goo dribbling out of your nose, or you can go the ninja route. If something bad happens to a ninja (i.e. the person they are trying to assassinate actually has 33 bodyguards and they all have machine guns which they are shooting at the ninja), he doesn't grunt and scream and groan ... no, he dodges bullets and he catches bullets between his teeth and he adapts to the situation in front of him and then he karate kicks the bodyguards in the face and karate chops the vicious lions that attack him and then he pats the lions because he likes animals and is sorry he hurt them with his mighty karate chop.
It isn't good or bad, it just is, and the is it is is the is he has to deal with.
The other thing a ninja knows is that there actually is no situation that is good or bad. A good and bad thing or event only exists because we make it good or bad. This is because the exact same situation may be good for one person and bad for another. Let's say two people go to a dinner party. One is a vegetarian, the other is a meat-eater. The dinner is roast beef. That's all, roast beef. For the meat-eater, this is a nom nom situation (i.e. good). For the vegetarian, this is an awful oh man I am going to be so hungry and will have to nibble on this old carrot stick from the botom of my bag situation.
So is the situation bad? No, not at all. A situation is only good or bad depending on how you see it!
And sometimes, a situation that seemed terrible, like the worst thing ever, turns out to be good in the end. I heard a story about someone who had a car crash, wrecking their car and meaning they couldn't go to the holiday in the snow they had planned. Terrible! They were really angry. But then, that night, the lodge they were going to stay in was destroyed by falling snow, or rocks, or was burnt to the ground, I can't remember, but it was destroyed and they may have died. So was the car crash good or bad? Or was it bad then good? Or was it just something that happened?
It's like telling a joke. One person may laugh, another may tell you it's the worst joke ever. Does this mean the joke is funny or not? It's neither, and it's both. Confusing, huh?
So when things you see as good or bad happen, remember the ninja catching bullets in his teeth. This is only a good or bad situation because of how you are perceiving it. This doesn't mean you shouldn't feel upset, or angry, or happy, just don't let yourself wallow in that feeling.
Catch those bullets in your teeth,
Pat those lions.
And remember that things that seem awful may turn out to be blessings in disguise.
LOOK OUT! NINJA STAR!
I just saved your life.
Now go on with your day.
But, for me, one of the most awesome ways ninjas are awesome is the way they exit a situation. There's no mumbled goodbye. There's no awkward hug, or kiss, or hug and kiss, or hug where you think the person is going to do a hug and kiss so you go to give them a kiss on the cheek but they were just going for a hug so you kiss them right on the ear.
No. Ninjas do none of that. They hurl a smoke bomb on the ground, and when the smoke clears ... they're gone!
And that is what you remember.
Slowly the other stuff comes back to you, but for a while you can't get that exit out of your head.
It's like going to a concert. What song do you go home singing? The last one you heard, so singers always sing one of their biggest and best hits last.
It's all about the exit.
People don't sing songs on the way home from the middle of the concert. Sometimes it's even hard to remember what songs were sung, and in what order. But you never forget the last song, and you never forget a ninja's exit.
The thing is though, without the work done in the middle - the songs, the silent killing - there wouldn't even be a chance to make that exit.
The last song has more impact because of the songs that were sung through the concert. The ninja's exit has more impact because of the shock and awe they have created with their slicing ninja swords and flying ninja stars.
It's like when someone is seen as an overnight success (the smoke bomb exit, the last song), but they have been working away at their craft for 10 years (the head-slicing, the songs in the middle). People are amazed because they haven't seen or don't know or remember all that hard work put in, but without it, the success wouldn't have happened.
You have to put in the hard yards that no one sees or knows about or remembers, because then, when the time comes, when the opportunity arises, you are standing there, smoke bomb in hand, ready to hurl it down and make everyone remember your awesomeness.
So don't stress if you are doing all the work and it isn't being recognised just yet. It will be, and when it is, you will be ready, and people will remember you for a long, long time because you are a ninja, and you are awesome.
***Note: Don't actually use ninja swords or ninja stars. Yes, they're awesome when ninjas use them, but for us everyday people, they're just really sharp and they hurt. So do your hard work on things that don't hurt other people. It's just nicer that way.
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