Feb 5, 2010
Kids, Girls, Zip Wires, Soldiers & Self Belief! The Story that Will Transform Your Blog… Posted by Jamie Harrop - 12 Comments
Photo by The U.S. Army
July 1998. I was 10 years old. It was a hot Summer day, and the whole town was out at the annual charity gala. People were on the fairground rides. Others were eating ice cream. And even more were watching the display of acrobats, gymnasts and pampered pooches in the main arena. Me? I was watching with intent as person after person fell over the edge of the 100 foot drop and flew down the zip line, only to be quickly stopped at the bottom by two British Army soldiers.
One by one, they would climb the scaffold tower to reach the top. One by one, the soldier at the top would secure their hands in the pulley system, and one by one, they would drop over the edge, scream, and seemingly fly to the bottom. With a sharp bang of ropes colliding, two soldiers at the bottom would bring them to a stop, and the persons face would light up with a smile. They had just taken on the official UK Army zip wire, and lived to tell the tale.
Taking On The Zip Wire… At 10 years old!
I wasn’t leaving the gala that day without proving to myself I could do it. Without showing The Army what this 10 year old was made of!
As I walked up to the desk to pay my turn, I wasn’t the least bit nervous. My parents watched as I handed over my £1 to the Army fitness instructor in his skin-tight white vest. He joked that I would be the youngest person to take on the wire that day.
As I handed over my pound, he gave me the pulley system that you hang from and attaches to the rope when you get to the top, and I set off to climb the stairs. The stairs were steep, and made only of scaffolding so as you climbed higher you could easily see the ground below.
It seemed like an eternity as I climbed step after step, occasionally glancing up to see how close I was to the top, but more often glancing down so I knew how far from the ground I was. At 10 years old, I wasn’t built like a soldier like the zip wire was designed for. The pulley I was carrying with me to the top was getting very heavy. I remember two teenage girls behind me could see I was struggling, and without a moments hesitation they offered to carry my pulley for me.
As I reached the top, I was a nervous wreck. It looked much higher from up there. The girls handed my pulley to the soldier so he could get it setup on the rope. I remember looking down at the ground and seeing my parents. They looked like spots a million miles below. I could feel the tower swaying and shaking as people flew down the rope ahead of me. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this anymore.
Stepping Up to the Edge
I moved forward, ever closer to the edge of the small platform. The soldier stood behind, and slowly put my arms threw the hoops of the pulley. Apparently these stop you falling from the rope to a very timely death if you let go of the pulley handles, but they didn’t feel the least bit secure or capable of stopping me falling.
The soldier could see I was nervous. I didn’t want to do this. Tears were starting to flood my eyes. I was way outside my comfort zone, and I didn’t like it one bit.
Rather than giving up and letting me walk back down the steps, the soldier did something I’ll never forget. Something I’ll take with me through life and to my grave.
“Would you like me to go down the wire with you?”
The soldier looked at me and asked, “Would you like me to go down the wire with you?”. As he asked me this, he took hold of the pulley as though to join me. In a quiet, teary voice, I said “Yes”. And with that, we were away. We were over the edge. My feet were touching nothing. 100 feet above the ground. The soldier holding on behind me, making sure I was safe. My parents below, smiling and waiting for me to reach the bottom.
I held tight. As tight as I could. I closed my eyes only for a brief second before opening them and enjoying the flight. As I came towards the bottom, I began to run with my legs in midair to ensure I would stay upright once I touched the ground. BANG! I hit the rope held by the two soldiers to bring me to a stop.
Confused Parents & The Best Soldier in the World!
I instantly ran to my parents with a huge smile on my face. I told them how scared I was at the top, and how glad I was that the soldier had come down the wire with me.
My parents looked at me with a confused face. “There was no soldier.” they said. “You came down all by yourself.”
I looked back up at the tower, and there was the soldier. Standing there at the top, a big smile on his face, waving and giving a relaxed, informal salute in my direction. If he hadn’t been so high up, I would have sworn he gave me a wink as well.
I came down the zip wire by myself. At 10 years old, I had conquered the wire, and lived to tell the tale.
Self Belief – A Key Cornerstone to a Successful Blog
This post is the first in a series of four that I’ll be publishing over the next week, discussing what I believe to be the four key cornerstones to creating a successful blog. Today, I want to talk about self belief.
So many people walk in to the blogosphere with no plan. They just start writing and hope the visitors will arrive. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. With 175,000 new blogs created every day (that’s two new blogs every second of every day), you can’t afford to write with no plan. There are far too many people starting blogs on the same topic as you who have a plan, so you can’t afford to not have one.
Planning is key to your self belief. Most blogs fade away in to the distance less than 12 months after they were launched. Without a plan, you have no goals. Without goals, you have no way to measure your success. Without a measurement for success, you have no way to tell how well your blog is doing. Without this, you can’t believe in yourself. In order to believe in yourself, you must setup goals you can achieve. Without goals, you lose your aim and your focus, and with it you lose your self belief.
Finding Self Belief From Those Around You
Blogging can quite often become a lonely world. You toil all day, writing post after post. Quite often, for new startups, there are no comments to be read and no relationships with other bloggers to call upon. It’s at this point you need to start building relationships.
I wouldn’t have gone down that zip wire without the soldier giving me some self belief. I wouldn’t have gone down that path without feeling safe, secure and without somebody figuratively and indeed physically behind me. You must find a circle of people to keep you accountable and to keep you going even when things are hard, because believe me, that first six months will be the hardest six months of your blogging career.
Twitter is a fantastic place to build your circle, but as is often the case in the blogosphere, times are changing. Forums are now becoming an integral part of the lives of many bloggers. Many of the forums charge a small monthly fee which some people like and some don’t. Personally, I find paid forums to be the best, because they ensure everybody within them are people who take their blog and their marketing efforts seriously. There are several paid for forums and courses that include forum membership, including Chris Garrett’s Authority Blogger and The Third Tribe (a culmination of several high profile bloggers), both of which I’m a member and huge advocate of. I don’t often recommend membership sites like these, but they are both proving to be an invaluable asset to me and my blog. I certainly wouldn’t recommend them if I didn’t think they were worth the money.
Another paid for site, which I admit I haven’t used but does have an excellent reputation, is Darren Rowse’s own ProBlogger Community.
Of course, I’m sure there will be some of you who prefer a free way to interact with others and build your circle, so for that there is the Blogging Tips Forums.
All of these forums allow you to bounce ideas off other like-minded bloggers. All of them allow you to be kept accountable to your goals, and keep others accountable. And all of them contain real success stories that will motivate you, not from A-List bloggers with thousands of subscribers, but from people just like us who are achieving realistic goals week after week. There’s nothing quite like a realistic success story to keep you believing in yourself.
Belief in yourself is key to achieving success with your blog. Set yourself goals on a regular basis, and interact with a circle of like-minded people. Rather than being the kid stood at the top of the zip wire who doesn’t interact and decides to walk back down the steps, be the kid that talks with others around him and uses them to achieve his goals.
Do you struggle to believe in your blogging abilities? Do you have your own circle of like-minded people to bounce ideas off and take advice from? Do you set yourself goals, and if so, how often? Let us know in the comments!
PS. Look out for three more posts this week discussing my other cornerstones of blogging. I’ll slowly progress up the scale, until we hit what I believe to be a cornerstone so important, you can’t build a successful blog without it. Subscribe today if you haven’t already done so.