If you’ve never heard of John Wooden, I’m positive you can look him up. But the super short version is he was an incredible basketball coach at UCLA where he won 10 NCAA championships in a 12 year span – a bunch in a row.
So basically, he was a winner. (He passed in 2010.)
Here was his first lesson to the new students that showed up to play basketball at UCLA – and mind you, some had been playing for ten years already – he taught them how to put on their socks and tie their shoes.
He taught them this because if you had wrinkles in your socks, you’d get blisters. Blisters led to less practice. Less practice led to less playing time. Less playing time (if you were good) lead to less wins. And that meant that not only might they not win another championship, but he might get fired.
I don’t seriously think he ever worried about getting fired. I just think he understood that little things lead to big things. Discipline wins.
A quick summary of 2013
This year I delivered over 20 public talks on execution, high performers, customer service and technology (like WordPress).
I wrote 356 blog posts on chrislema.com, 18 on Torque, 7 for WP Daily, 1 for WooThemes, and 1 for Clarity.fm. I’ve never really felt comfortable with the term writer, but I wrote a lot (383 posts, if my math is right).
I was interviewed or did 8 remote presentations for WordPress freelancers via WP Sessions, the Matt Report, the DradCast, WP Tavern, Core Elevation, WP Elevation, MeetWP and Curtis McHale’s book for freelancers (“Don’t be an Idiot”).
I participated in at least 40 episodes of WPWatercooler, the most watched WordPress podcast, which has had over 4,750,000 YouTube views.
I got to have countless conversations with incredible folks that build products in the WordPress ecosystem – more than I thought to count.
I did earn a bit of revenue, beyond all of the above which was volunteer work.
I did 22 calls on Clarity.fm, where I give people business advice (as they paid by the minute), did a bit of paid coaching, and worked on a few web projects.
And I also sold 452 copies of two of my ebooks (on virtual teams and high performers) on Amazon as well as another 299 on my own site.
What a year! I couldn’t have predicted all of that. But I loved every part of it and was blessed to collaborate with so many incredible folks.
Building a reputation takes time & discipline
I once had someone ask me this year how to get on the WordCamp speaking circuit. As there is no circuit, my answer was pretty simple. You start speaking locally. Meetups. A local WordCamp. Then, over time, you develop a reputation that may enable you to speak at more events.
I don’t think the answer was what they were looking for, because their first response was, “but that will take years.” And the answer is, “Yes, and discipline.”
You don’t win championships quickly. You certainly don’t win them 7 years in a row without some strategy. And Wooden’s strategy was discipline – from how people put on socks and tied their laces (double knotted) to how they worked on the floor.
The year 2012 was the year of eBooks for me. Writing a couple and putting it out there was nerve-wracking (yes, I get as nervous as anyone else). But most people liked them (according to the Amazon rating system).
The year 2013 was the year of presentations for me. I not only spoke more, in more places (even in South Africa), but I also created more talks. Instead of using one several times, I created 6 different new talks – each of which took close to 6 weeks of work. But people liked them (according to twitter).
The year 2014 will be the year of events for me. I not only plan to attend some key events like BeachPress, but I’m working on organizing a few as well. It won’t mean that I won’t write eBooks, or won’t speak at conferences. I’ll still do that. But I’m adding another layer of engagement. And it will take planning and work (just like everything else).
I don’t have goals. I have themes & routines.
I know this is the point where most people outline their goals. But as you can tell from the way I think about my years (above), I work with themes, not goals. And I make progress by having routines, not targets.
I read daily. I blog daily. I nap daily.
I can’t tell you what the complete results will be from being rested, well-read, or from writing consistently. But the routines have helped me make forward progress.
I know, at this point you’re wondering how I can know I’m making forward progress if I don’t have goals. It’s a good question.
You see, I think John Wooden cared more about the development of character among his players than he did championships. And to that end, the championships were just an ancillary benefit of the work he was doing.
I care more about the (continued) development of my own character than I do any particular destination. So I know I’m making forward progress by checking to see if I’m more generous, more forgiving, more patient, more helpful, less selfish and less prideful – if I’m a better husband, father, friend.
To some, the lack of goals feels like a lack of progress. I have no specific target or destination. But I’m not aimless. And I know 2014 can’t let me down, because I don’t have a set target.
In the end, I’m sure you might wonder what my “championships” are. Even if Wooden was focused on developing character, the net result was winning. And he won championships. So what are my championships?
Great question. My answer: friendships.
I know 2014 will be great because I’ll enjoy, in every context, the friendships I’m constantly developing and investing into.