I Want To Be Fearless Again

I originally posted this on medium.com but it makes sense to have it here. It is about writing… and performing… and parenting… and entrepreneurship… It is about overcoming fear!
overcoming fear

When writing was easy

The truth is, writing is pretty easy for me…. but I’m afraid, too.

My path to professional writer

It started out fearless!

I’ve been blessed with a gift. It’s been that way since I was young. I had teachers cultivate that in elementary school, Jr. High (Middle School), and High School.

Then, after high school, I mostly stopped writing. I allowed my time to be consumed with forwarding my career as a technologist and then my consulting…. and with my family.

I was mostly content… mostly.. and busy… very busy!

I’d done some writing as part of my career and my consulting — white papers and technical pieces. I’d also written a few poems and essays — for personal consumption and a few friends. Some of those resulted in people suggesting I write something professionally.

I must give credit where credit is due. My ex-wife suggested repeatedly that I read Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. She knew how much I love his writing.

She bought it for me and put it on my desk. I put it on the shelf! It took me awhile to finally get to it… too long. I’m stubborn, lazy, etc. Whatever!

I read it and it actually changed my life. Or, perhaps more accurately, prompted me to change my life. Either way, a special thanks to her and to Mr. King.

Then, one day, while writing a note to a friend who was asking for career advice, I realized that my somewhat lengthy and attitude driven response to his questions would make an interesting and fun article.

I formalized it, sent it to a computer magazine, and two weeks later was contacted by the editor. He told me they had 3 magazines and that they loved the piece. They were dumping their lead/cover article and using mine in all three magazines. Yes!!!! Double-fist pump!!

I was paid for that article and they asked me to write a monthly column! I was a professional writer. I was an author.

From Blogger to Book

I immediately jumped into blogging, setting up my first blog at blogger.com. I wrote essay-type pieces, political parody, life reflections, humorous news commentary, and career advice. I wrote whatever I wanted.

Many of those pieces were funny, irreverent, and inappropriate. They were so fun to write! Tangential and weird . (Vegas Bound & My Head in a Pickle Jardon’t ask) I was completely unconcerned with who read what I wrote and their reaction to it. Agree, disagree, think I was a jerk, or weird, or funny.. it was all good.

Ultimately, my articles led to my first book deal and a relationship with a major publisher. Yay me!! (and special thanks and thoughts to my editor whom I LOVE!)

I spoke at events. I was offered additional publishing deals. I was a subject- matter expert!

And then I became fearful!!!!

It was more than my divorce and family turmoil! It was more than the flood that destroyed my home and belongings! In fact, those weren’t it at all.

It was an insidious question that entered my mind!

What if?

What if I offend someone?

What if that business organization reads my political parody or strange reflections on life and parenting or snide news story analysis, and does not want to hire me?

What if my publisher reads a piece where I say a naughty phrase like, “fuck that!” or talk about sex or respond with sarcasm to a reader or blog comment?

What if I lose readers?

Suddenly, “what if?” and what I might theoretically lose became a filter. A rather large and difficult filter to get past.

I hate that fucking filter!!! I hate how fearful I’ve become. It’s not me! It is crippling!

This past year I’ve become a little braver. I’ve become braver because I am watching a few people who help make me brave!

People who make me brave!

My oldest daughter and her blog. It seems she doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks. In fact, all my kids are unconventional and spend much of their time giving the world the finger and passionately advocating their cause of choice. A bunch of hippy activists! I’m proud of that.

Gary Vaynerchuk

Ze Frank

And my readers, mentors, coaches, and those I coach! They tell me to write what I want to write when I want to write it. They tell me to “be real!”

But often, I’m still afraid. And that’s fucked up!

What about you?

The many things I don’t do well

I coach people and I do it well. I guess I am known as a bit of a hard-ass. I don’t coddle my clients and I do NOT tolerate inactivity or poor effort!

And apparently, I have a pretty strong leadership quotient. That’s a fancy way of saying that I often am asked to – or end up – leading projects and people due to force of personality and decisiveness.

However, a bi-product of dispensing with advice that is clearly in my wheelhouse – playing to my strengths – is that readers and those I coach get the impression that I do everything well; that I never feel down or depressed, anxious, fearful, lack confidence, get angry, or deal with frustration – at myself and others.

Oh people.. dear dear readers who might have ever thought that… It’s laughable but as my mom sometimes says, “I’m laughing so I don’t cry!”

Matt.. this is getting a little uncomfortable.. why are you sharing this?

Last night I was speaking to a friend who I’ve coached (and I would suggest she has coached me as well) and through that coaching has had some good breakthroughs and success. That’s awesome!! (she’s got some work to do still.. gentle nudge)

During our conversation, which had turned to coaching soccer, another thing I do well, she said, “You do a lot of things well but you should let people know that you don’t do everything well.” She knows some of my back story and suggested that it might help people to know that I struggle with some things….

Transparency alert:

I have a pretty strong sense of what I do well. However, lurking beneath all that is the stark realization of SO many things I do poorly. In fact, I am reaching out and getting coaching on a number of these items. It’s a process kids.. it’s a process! At least that is what they tell me – and God knows I tell my client’s that.

One of the facets of going through a pretty extreme adversity is a sense of guilt.. I’ll go further and say that it borders on a type of self-loathing! (thank you to those who have shared that vulnerable part of you) I give a presentation to employment support groups and others titled, “Overcoming Adversity and Revitalizing Your Career.” What I’ve discovered in this autobiographical and somewhat painfully transparent presentation is that I am not alone in feeling this way.

Recently, someone who attended the presentation sent me an email and said, “Thank you so much for letting me see that you have failed and, quite frankly, are not perfect! It made me feel normal!”

I wrote back and told them that they made me laugh out loud.. a true LOL. Perfect!!! I told her I sucked at so many things and that I often avoid them like the plague. No.. not perfect…good one… Of course, I also let them know NOT to use me as a basis for believing they are normal either!!!

NOTE: AND PLEASE READ THIS CAREFULLY AND TAKE IT TO HEART!!!
I’m not seeking consolation or encouragement. Believe me when I say, my confidence borders on arrogance much of the time. And when I say it borders, it is on the “arrogant” side of that line. DON’T ENCOURAGE ME!!  :-)
Thanks, The Management

In fairness to myself, and in response to my friend last night, I pointed out that I’ve divulged some of my fear, misgivings, and sense of failure & loss in the past.. she hadn’t seen those blog entries. I submit for your (and her) approval:

Past: A personal discussion on fear and failure
http://www.matthewmoranonline.com/2013/04/11/a-personal-discussion-about-fear-and-failure/

Recent: I did my best and other lies
http://www.matthewmoranonline.com/2014/01/20/best-lies/

I am twice divorced, have failed at business, and have let those most dear to me down in some critical ways. In a recent blog my daughter, reflecting on 2007/2008 – the year of my first divorce, included this line… “while our father became a shell of the hero he’d been”

Let that sink in people.. that’s my daughter, which, in turn – following basic biology – makes me the father. Specifically, the father who had been (past tense) a hero! And let me tell you, becoming a shell is a drag!

I was asked by a friend who read that how it made me feel.

How do you think it makes me feel? Sad! Angry (at myself, not her)! Defeated! I would have grounded her but two problems.. 1) she’s an adult and has lived on her own since she was 18. 2) I don’t really like grounding my children, I’d rather talk to them.

But, I’m stubborn and I’m really competitive! I’m committed! I’m arrogant…er.. confident!  I’ve got some good mentors and coaches in my life. I plan to find my cape and beat my chest!

And so, the process started a few years back and continues. And it’s going well. New book, new business. Reestablished goals! Tempered with a clear understanding of how easily it, and I, can get derailed.

People, it’s not bad to take a clear assessment of what you do well and what you door poorly. And call it what it is.. I understand some want to say, “You mean things you do less well! as if saying, “less well,” will make you feel better about them. Gag!! I get what they’re saying but there are times you might need to say, “I’m awful at this,” and commit to getting the help you need.

I can handle the truth!!That’s my whole point with the above post about “you did your best.” A similar phrases that I hate is, “Everything happens for a reason.” Uhh… yeah, because I blew it! To re-purpose and alter a paraphrase from A Few Good Men, I CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH!!

The Truth and Nothing But

And there you have it, the truth! Know what is also true? I’m awesome! I really am! But only at those things I’m awesome at!

And so, to my friend I was speaking with last night… Did I do this well enough? Thanks for forcing my hand! Now you need to go write something!

EDIT: Added after posting. A song I wrote in 2008. 2AM

And back to my regular confident self!!

Wishes, Wants, and Needs

I was going through some old photos and found this picture that my older daughter took one day while we were on walk near my house.
I want more than 9 to 5

I love the sentiment. I’m not a big fan of graffiti, although, it is on a dumpster and is NOT gang related, so… I’m okay with it. Plus it gave me a blog topic. WIN!

I Wish, I Want! I Need, I Got!

I heard this phrase years ago from a motivational speaker. The idea is that if we “wish” we had something or could do something (I wish I was a writer.), we’ll always want it. On the other hand, if we make that “wish” a need (I need to be a writer), we’ll make it happen.

I don’t agree. That is far too simple!

There are all sorts of things people “need” that they do NOT go after with the focus necessary to achieve them. And there are plenty of “wants” we make happen that are clearly not needs.

I know many people who want things… wanna be I.T. professionals I’ve met through my book, wanna be performing musicians, wanna-be consultants and wanna be authors. But they are not those things.

The difference between the “wanna-be’s” and the “be’s” is sort of simple.. It’s the “being”. It’s the work.

There are a LOT of people who want more than 9-5. – but are not willing to put in the work needed. Incidentally, if you want more than 9-5, you are going to “be” more than 9-5. What I mean is that it is going to require more than 9-5 to get more than 9-5.

Especially initially. Unless you are a trust fund baby (if you are, contact me please, I have  wants too), you are likely going to have to work – sort of like a regular Joe – an everyday job to pay the bills, while simultaneously and in your “extra” time, putting the things into place that allow you to get that want or be that thing.

For instance, if you want to be a writer – you are going to have your regular job, paying your bills, and then, mornings/evenings, you are going to write.

As I wrote many years ago in my blog entry – A writer defined, “The Noun is wrapped up In the verb.” In order to be the thing (the noun), you must do the thing (the verb) that the thing (the noun) does.

  • Writers write!
  • Performing songwriters write songs and perform them!
  • Consultants consult!
  • I.T. Professionals learn and put technology into place!
  • People who want more than 9-5, put in more than 9-5.

What is stopping you?

I’ll give you a short-list of things I see that stop people from doing the work that turns “wanna-be” into “be.”

T.V.

This one always gets me. “I don’t have enough time in my day.” And then, in speaking to them, they’ve watched an entire season of “Breaking Bad” or “The Sopranos” or “The Dome” or whatever! Football, baseball, hockey, dancing with the stars, etc. Hey, I like Justified! I’ve seen most of season #1 and some of season #2… some.

Sports teams/fantasy football, etc.

I’m talking playing on a team or spending hours each week on your fantasy football. Hey, I get it. But I don’t really. At least not until you’ve done enough time-slicing and allocation of effort to put things into place. Don’t tell me, for instance, about your great book/story idea that you just cannot get to because you are too busy – and then tell me about your various sporting activities – watching or playing.

Time-sucking friends

There are friends who are more than willing to steal your time. They will even tell you that you can do whatever it is later. Stop hanging out with them. The real friend is going to say, “Why don’t we get together at the end of the week AFTER you’ve done X work towards what you want to be.”

If they say, “You can do that later. Come out with us tonight.”BEWARE!!!! Or don’t complain that your “wanna be” is still just that..

This image was posted on Facebook recently. I re-posted it because it made me laugh. It’s true not just for writers but for anyone who wants to turn their wanna-be’s into be’s.
the muse writers really need

Inspiration is NOT your problem. Perspiration is… ie: DO THE WORK!!

The noun is wrapped up in the verb!

What Tomatoes Can Teach Us About Encouragement

I was inspired to start a garden after visiting my daughter in Phoenix and I talk about it here.

I mention Ron Finley’s TED Talk about turning food deserts into food gardens. Worth watching for sure. And my daughter writes about Hope House Farms and why she needs the farm more than it needs her.

Takeaway ideas.

  1. Get Gangsta with your shovel
  2. Unwilt someone today. It unwilts you in the process.
  3. I’m giving away FREE BOOKS and FREE MUSIC.

 

[Friday Recap] Being myself and being creative

Friday recap will be some of my observations, websites, articles, and anything else I saw during the week.

On Being Myself

I had a conversation yesterday with my friend, Val King. She is editor/owner/founder of Rock Revolt Magazine. It is pretty cool – I began speaking with her a few years back.. about songwriting, my music, her writing, and WordPress. Now she has a site that is getting thousands of views every day. I won’t take credit (well. for the tagline I will).. She is a fine writer and has thrown herself both feet into hacking wordpress as needed.

We talked about my dilemma non-dilemma of branding/positioning/who am I. Her take (paraphrase), “Matt.. you are Matt Moran. Stop over-thinking it and just be Matt Moran.” I asked for her permission and she gave it.. Thanks Val.

Note: I didn’t press her on why I haven’t been covered as an artists at Rock Revolt. It is obviously my lack of tattoos and hair.. and I don’t flip off my audience enough.. Mental note taken..  I’m buying some stick on tattoos this weekend!

My oldest daughter freaked out, visited me last week, got a plan, returned home, freaked out, got talked off the ledge and felt better – and then blogged about it.

Oh.. then she freaked out again but I’m pretty sure she is talking herself off the ledge this time. I’ll know for sure in a few hours as I am heading out to visit her and my other kids.. Pictures will be taken.

As though on queue, Ze Frank, posted a few videos… on worrying too much and on becoming a new person or growing.

About Creativity

I am often asked how I think the way I do – how to be more creative.. I don’t know how to answer that.. Kyle Cease explains – but it is always there.

Social Media/Content Strategy

My friend Dave pointed me at http://contently.com/blog/ I signed up for their Beginner’s Guide To Blogging Content Strategy but haven’t had time to give a thorough once over.

Karen pointed me at Unclutterer and Jolidrive. I signed up for jolidrive to see how it works but have not really been able to test it.

With the imminent death of Google Reader, here are two RSS Readers I’m checking out. The Old ReaderNewsblur.

And now we head into the weekend.

My book gets some reviews.. both bad and good, plus other stuff

There is a danger in reading book reviews…. well.. specifically, my own book’s review.

In this video I talk about a bad review, a good review, my content schedule, and some t-shirts for my song, This Star-Spangled Life of Mine.

Per the video.. my content schedule is (for now):

  • Monday: Video update (what’s coming up this week plus anything else)
  • Tuesday: Tech Tip Tuesday or Tech & Tips Tuesday
    I might cover more than simply technology.. but something useful.
  • Wednesday: The I.T. Career Toolkit Podcast
  • Friday: Friday Recap
    Things I’ve seen, read, done, or thought about this week.

Of Ragamuffins, Daughters, and Being Offensive

rag·a·muf·fin
Noun
A person, typically a child, in ragged, dirty clothes.

“Ain’t it a blessing to do what you wanna do”
- Shawn Mullins, Twin Rocks Oregon
_____________
“Someday You’ll wake up and you’ll be asking yourself why you sat there at your desk, sucking on a corporate breast, you turned out like the rest.”
- Shawn Mullins, Something To Believe In

It’s all related.. I promise. Well, loosely in any case.

Brennan Manning – “The Ragamuffin Gospel” – died last month. My two oldest children closely associate with being ragamuffins.. in a spiritual sense.. along with Rich Mullins. I consider Rich to my favorite songwriter.. IMPORTANT: not my favorite Christian songwriter.. most Christian music bores me.. He is my favorite songwriter because of his songwriting.


The oldest girl is visiting me right now – tag-teaming with her younger sister (aka: “the girl”) by controlling the radio and TV and ensuring Dad is both put in his place and is frequently serving them. I’m okay with that.

I’ve been talking with the older of the two about life and her plans – which are forming as we speak – literally. She mentioned a conversation with #1 – my oldest – who is working to head back to bible college.

Apparently, they were discussing the relative safety and conservative nature of some within the church and at the bible college he’ll be attending… and how they might react to the somewhat nomadic/gypsy and ragamuffin nature of my son.

He then said what I might consider one of the more interesting, poignant, and quotable comments I’ve ever heard.

“It’s going to be refreshing and offensive!”

That’s good!

And he doesn’t mean offensive in terms of salty language or disgusting behavior – although such things could happen. He means something more dramatic… raw transparency.. He means letting down the veil of decency that we all hide behind at times… much of the time…. MOST OF THE TIME… and pushing into a more raw and open dialogue and understanding.

Such conversation necessarily tramples the, “How are you doing? Good. And the kids? Wonderful – they grow up so fast don’t they. Nice weather we are having,” droning that we often take part in.

Those can be uncomfortable and even painful conversations. But my kids have those conversations with each other – and with me sometimes. I’m thankful for that.

And it prompts other conversations..  I seemed to have instilled somewhere in my kids a pretty solid, “F— the establishment! I’m doing what I want to,” perspective. They are still pulled – as am I – by society’s nagging, “this is how life is to be done,” call. Go to school. Get a good job. Climb that ladder (the corporate breast) and smile for the camera.

Mind you.. there is nothing wrong with climbing the corporate ladder per se. The challenge I’ve found is that for many, they are taking part in life with a, “I’ll do this until I figure out what I want to do,” attitude. In many cases, they never get raw enough with themselves or others to answer the question, “what do I want to do?”

Also, I don’t believe, and I hope I am not teaching a, “F— the establishment!” for F—ing’s sake. That’s foolishness and dangerous.

I spoke to my younger daughter’s classroom last week. I LOVED IT! Middle-school is all energy, confusion, and feigned certainty. My advice ran something like this.

  1. There are no rules!
  2. You can change what you are doing at any point in life and pursue something else.
  3. The most important thing about school is NOT getting a degree. It is loving to learn new things!
  4. If you know what you want to do.. pursue it. If you don’t, do lots of things so you can figure that out.
  5. And what you want to do might change.. don’t stifle that. See #2.

But after all is said and done.. perhaps my son has it right.

Be refreshing and offensive! At least with yourself, those you love, and those who love you. You might find that you, in fact, have something to believe in.

Tread lightly on their souls and how we see criticism

How do you see criticism?

is this how you see criticism

I have a book out – second one actually – from a major publisher. This makes me an authority – on writing, putting content in front of people, and certainly on the impact of criticism on your psyche.

Well, it allows me to claim some authority.. you can decide whether I am worth listening to or not.

I know a few writers and aspiring writers. I know some songwriters and aspiring songwriters. I know a lot of people who do things and aspire to do things.

I just had a conversation with a writer friend of mine (hi.. you know who you are). This person wants to write and has some opportunities. But they are caught up in analyzing particulars – actually, they have been for the most part of a year and probably even longer. I told this person (see how gender neutral I am being) that they were mostly just scared! Everything else -  all the analysis – was to mask the fear.

Called out! BAM!!!

Guess how I know that this person is scared? Because they (we/I) are all scared! I’d say scared shitless but I don’t really know what that means and I find the reference sort of gross.. poopy talk went out after 1st grade – ahh.. the sophistication of 2nd grade.

Why are they scared?

Because their soul has been exposed.. or at least that is how it feels. You put out an essay, an article, a poem, a song, an idea, and you are open for criticism. Sure.. you are open for kudos and kind words but as I mentioned before, our natural tendency is to focus on and hear more loudly the criticism.

I’ve told this story before but it is worth repeating.

I spoke for a professional organization a couple years ago. As part of the presentation, they provide feedback on the overall presentation, it’s delivery, and the perceived value. I’m going to show you what my feedback looked like and my perception of it.

The actual feedback.

This graph shows what was turned into me.. black and white, simply numbers in columns.
the actual critique

Pretty good right. 23 responses. 21 excellent. 1 Good. 1 Poor. Hmmmm……

My perception of the feedback

how I saw the critique

No seriously. It was like this in my head. I sat there wondering what/how I could have reached that one person more effectively. I wondered what I did wrong! If you say you don’t ever do this you are either a) crazy – and not in a good way.. or b) lying. Maybe both.. probably both.

I’m not suggesting you ignore feedback but something like this might be telling more about that one person in the “poor” column more than it reveals anything about your presentation, book, song, etc.

There is also something to be said about finding your audience. I may not be a fan of arrhythmic/atonal music (I call it noise) but there are people who do listen to it.

A better filter

This might be a better way for me to view it (below). I’ll bold those numbers a bit and highlight the positive. The numbers matter somewhat, so if you find what you are doing appeals to no one, you might try to determine why that is the case.
a healthy perspective

So tread lightly

When providing feedback tread lightly on the artist’s, speaker’s, entrepreneur’s, child’s soul! Remember, they, like me, are likely to filter it almost exactly as I did above.

And provide some positive feedback (I am not fishing for compliments here) because critics, in general, are abnormally active and often just plain mean. As people, we tend to be vocal about what we don’t like and let what we do like pass largely unrecognized.

Tread lightly on their souls.

Keynotes and workshops for career & professional development, I.T. departments, business innovation & creativity, and more…

keynotes and workshops with Matthew MoranWith the upcoming release of my book, I’ve updated the presentations and topics I speak on. The list will continue to evolve but if you are looking for a keynote speaker or workshop for your organization, I would love to speak with you.

“Silicon Valley Knowledge with a Jimmy Buffett Attitude!”
Bob Groom -

Download my speaker and keynote information sheet that provides some background information. You can also download an information sheet for my new book, Building Your I.T. Career.

The IT Career Builder's Toolkit has become Building Your I.T. Career

If you have any questions or comments, you can contact me or leave them in the comments section below.

 

Give Away The Farm and Build Your Brand

Build Your Brand by Giving It AwayThis pertains to authors, consultants, musicians, and virtually anyone who wants to build and extend their brand.

The Internet and those using are obsessed with content. If you want to become relevant to that world, content needs to be a part of what you do. Continue Reading →