Sometimes you will fail… here’s how to fail correctly.
The other day, I was remembering this post, in which the author complains that nobody out there is explaining n00bs how to use Twitter. The short version of the whole story is that there’s this someone who gathered a crazy number of followers through his/her name recognition, and not exactly his/her activity on Twitter. Now that person is not sure how to get into using the tool and begin capitalizing their amazing number of followers for business use. Read the above-linked post for the full profanity-laden lowdown on the author’s cries.
First of all, let’s clear up the big issue brought up: supposedly there are no people online explaining how to use Twitter, which is total garbage. Tutorials a-plenty on the web on how to use Twitter.CommonCraft has put out some excellent videos that serve as a Twitter 101, including this one on the basics, and this other one on Twitter Search. Mashable has a whole section of their site dedicated to learning how to use it. All these options are free, but if you want to shell out some cash just to feel better about yourself, Lynda.com has an excellent walkthrough (I think it costs around $30). Other than these, there are a bunch of excellent blogs out there that constantly give out updated insights.
I can only assume that this passive “Twilebrity” just hasn’t bothered searching around, and is wishing that the knowledge magically teleports into his/her mind… Which may bring us to the issue that really concerns me about the whole “problem”.
In most learning endeavors in life, the most effective way to gain profound knowledge is not to spend days reading “Doing This or That For Dummies”, but rather just frikkin’ doing it.
I once complained to my dad that he never taught me how to dance, and he responded, “dancing is something you learn, not something you’re taught to do.” Of course there are dance schools out there, but his point was that unless you’re willing to try, your head knowledge and safe practicing won’t get you very far.
When I started teaching myself how to play the piano, I sounded either horrible, boring, or both. I didn’t care, and kept putting myself out there, willingly embarrassing myself until I got good.
When I got into motion graphics, I sucked worse than a vacuum cleaner. I didn’t care. I kept acting like my next project would be better than the previous one, and it eventually turned out that way.
Even when I started using Twitter, I begun doing all the wrong things. I had to learn by doing, watching how others more-experienced than I did it, and adjusting accordingly.
In most everything I’ve learned to do, I’ve had to get out there and start shakin’, usually failing along the way, and yes, that “along the way” typically means the very beginning of the road. People are so afraid of failing, that they never even begin trying. Yet most people don’t seem to realize that if you truly want to learn, failing is actually an essential part of the whole process. If you’re so good you never fail, are you really learning?
I suspect the true fear of failure is not failure itself, but rather the cost to be payed. The subject in question probably hates the idea of losing a quarter of their followers, and getting a negative backlash from the other quarter. As I said in a previous post, when you’re true to yourself and to where you are at any point, your influence will be capped. The question to be asked is: so what??
Once at the circus, I saw a very talented acrobat performing some amazing stunts. This guy was a true pro. People obviously applauded every move he made. Suddenly, he made a mistake and fell. He made the best of the moment, got right back up, tried again and succeeded. If you think the audience booed him, you’re very wrong. They applauded his effort even more feverishly than before. The guy was doing something, he failed but tried again, and people appreciated seeing that. He was inspiring people, letting them know that he is as real as they are, only he just kept trying.
If you try and fail, you can admit making the mistake and just keep moving. As long as you’re honest, most people will be forgiving, and the rest that are not were just not meant to be your followers at this point in time. Either way, you don’t lose credibility by trying and failing, you lose it by faking and being discovered. But if you’re never willing to try, there’s nothing to lose that is not gained first. (If this last sentence is a quote from someone I can’t remember, so please let me know! It sounds too wise to come from lil’ ol’ me. :P)
My attitude in life is that when I win, I celebrate my victory; but when I lose, I count my losses as victories because I consciously decide to learn from it, so I also celebrate. I rejoice in the victory of gained knowledge in the present, no matter how it’s packaged, and along with it I celebrate my ensured victories in the future.
All this to simply say: DO IT. Take the first step and learn along the way. If you want to read the manuals while walking, that’s fine too; just don’t stop to read the manuals completely before you decide to walk.
Alex Rodríguez develops high-end digital marketing campaigns that transform brands and attract business. He is the author of Digital BACON. His clientele has run the gamut from top-level advertising agencies and Fortune500 corporations, through national broadcast networks, to award-winning production firms. He heads up the team at YMMY Marketing. Connect with Alex via LinkedIn or Twitter