How to Stop Being Such a Pussy

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What part of this thing do you want in on? Do you want to be just another blogger? One of the 900 “whatever comes after a bazillion” blogs that are currently littering up the Internet?

Or do you actually have something to say? Because, here’s the thing…

There are only a few hundred of those out there. And if you want to be one of them, you are going to have to do something much bigger than what you’re currently doing right now. And whatever that something is, I can promise you that it doesn’t reside in the warm fuzzy place that exists between your fleece sheets and the new puppy.

It exists in a place that is uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable. But if you want your readers to pay attention and even take action you are going to have to grab them by the shirt collar and shake them up a bit. Push them beyond conventional boundaries. Challenge them. Rub them the wrong way. And even piss them off.

In other words, you are going to have to stop playing it safe and start taking some risks. Because as one of your readers, you can’t expect me to stretch beyond my limits if you aren’t willing to stretch beyond yours.

Ultimately, this is the sort of thing that needs to come from you, but let me give you a little kick in the ass and show you a few ways to get you started…

Tough Love

We’re taught as bloggers to write for our audience. To know who we are writing for and alter our message in order to accommodate what we think our readers want to hear. But what they want to hear isn’t always what they need to hear. And therein lies the problem.

Your readers have already read what they want to hear hundreds of times. Even your “new” take on it is just another version of something they have read over and over again. And I’m sorry to break it to you, but even your brilliant regurgitation is not likely to get someone to move if they haven’t already taken action the first 10 times they heard it. Instead, all you are doing is confirming that whatever it is they have been doing all along is what they should continue doing.

It’s not. And they know that it’s not. But there are few people out there willing to put their ass on the line and challenge them to do it differently. To go against conventional wisdom. To charge into the storm.

Well, now is your chance.

Be the person we need you to be. Not the one we want you to be. The Mommy blogger that doesn’t talk about being a stay at home Mom as all sunshine, rainbows and lollipops. The financial blogger than doesn’t blame the economy but points the finger right back at you, the source of your financial woes. The “get rich quick” blogger that defines “quick” as a year or more because that’s how long it takes to build a sustainable business with a quality product.

We as your readers want to be challenged. We want to see things differently. We want to be pushed outside of our comfort zone. We want to dust off our brains and start putting them to use again. And we’re looking for someone to challenge us to do just that. Are you that person in your industry?

Get Naked

I don’t mean that you should be writing naked, although far be it from me to tell you what you should or should not be wearing while you are writing. I mean that you should be honest. Vulnerable. Cut out the “strong as an ox” routine and let people see who you really are.

Be human.

If you are writing about the solution to a particular problem, don’t leave out the part about how you struggled with that same issue. Not as a side note either. Give all of the gory details. Paint the picture. Let us know that we’re not alone in our struggles. Write a post about your history. Where you came from. Not the fluffy one that you want everyone to hear. I mean the one that really happened. The one where you almost gave up. The one that had you curled up in the fetal position for weeks. The one that still makes you shaky when you think about it.

Sure, it’s scary. Some people are going to judge you. Others will see you as weak. Some will even lose faith in you because of it. But the majority of your readers, the ones that are actually worth a damn, will support you. They will respect you for it. And they will build a deeper connection with you because of it.

They may even stop being your readers and start being your friends.

Be Unpopular

Just because everyone else is busy writing about Pinterest being the second coming of the Atari 2600, doesn’t mean that you have to also. Especially if you don’t believe it. Speak up. You don’t have to keep your opinions to yourself just because they are unpopular. In fact, you need to scream louder when they are unpopular. It’s not about getting people to join your movement. It’s about starting the conversation.

In July 2012 a 25 year old woman named Cathryn Sloane woke up a chunk of the internet when she wrote a piece for NextGen Journal entitled Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25. It was wildly unpopular. Over 600 comments were made on the post within days. Dozens of rebuttals were written in response. NextGen Journal even published a post in order to somewhat distance themselves from the opinions of the piece.

To put it lightly, people did not agree. The opinion in that post made them irate. But whether or not you agree with her position in the article is irrelevant. It started a conversation. It forced people to rethink their approach. Take a second look at what they do and how they do it. Defend who they were.

It evoked emotion and with that it was noticed.

Had the piece been titled “Why it Doesn’t Matter What Age You Are to Be a Social Media Manager” no one would have cared. It wouldn’t have heated up the debate and forced people to stand up and pay attention. It just would have been another blog post taking up more space online. Instead, it stood out amongst a lot of other noise.

My only criticism with it is that Ms. Sloane left the conversation. She didn’t respond to any of the comments or Tweets. She dropped the proverbial bag of poo on the front porch and ran. If you are going to stir the pot and write something that is unpopular you’d better be willing to stay put and defend your position.

Now It’s Your Turn…

This is the point where I pat you on the head, assure you that it’s going to be OK and then tell you to go get ‘em tiger. But I’m not going to. It’s up to you whether or not you take the leap. If you don’t, you’ll have plenty of company. If you do, you may very well wake up to a mob of people outside your front door with torches in hand. Or maybe you will be reveled as a hero. Is that a risk you are willing to take?

Featured image courtesy of nicsuzor licensed via Creative Commons.

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  • http://pegfitzpatrick.com/ Peg Fitzpatrick

    Always stirring up the post. Go wash your mouth out. (going to share on Reddit)

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Me? Stirring the pot? You must have me confused with my equally as nice and snarky but less attractive twin.

  • http://www.drmichellemazur.com/ Michelle_Mazur

    I saw this post right after I uttered the words: “That guy is such a pussy. I wish he would just say his piece in front of everyone or quit his bitching.” Mind meld.

    Anyway, I believe your people (whoever they are) will still love and respect you for the tough love. They might NOT like it in the moment, but then come around after a little thinking.

    As for me, one of my most popular posts on my site was a rant about how NOT to be a motivational speaker that just ragged on the stupidity of a several speakers I saw at a conference. It was fun!

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      OK, we officially need to hang out because you seem much too cool to not be my friend!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/anitahovey Anita Hovey

    If I’m supposed to say the unpopular thing, does that mean I should say this article stinks? ‘Cuz I know everyone else is going to write and say how awesome it is.

    I like the point about showing your humanity…I did that on my blog this week, talking about how I almost caved to the pressure of responding to a troll… thanks a lot for your “advice” on that, by the way.

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      How about saying the unpopular thing starting after this post. This way you can release your true feeling and gush about how crazy awesome you thought it was! Ready…and….go:

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Oh, and no worries on the advice for your little troll issue. Sorry if in the end my original advice would have sent you careening off the ledge and into more troll abuse. Good thing you are smarter and less impulsive than I!

  • http://www.websitebegin.com Joe Boyle

    Well, Marc, it’s been some time since I’ve left my two cents on your lovely writing (and trust me, it’s me, not you – I’ve been scheming up my own things that I will be told suck :P ). Time to become a regular again. You know, like the old days. When you loved me.

    When I was reading this article, I thought of an old friend of mine who quit web development because he was constantly told that he wasn’t good. Every design he churned out was met with a wealth of hatred – his designs weren’t the current trends, and thus people didn’t take kindly to them. It’s ashame, too – I really liked them.

    People didn’t think The Beatles would be worth anything in the beginning, too. The sound was much too different. They dressed weird, had long hair, and broke all of the rules. If they were afraid to do that, well, I would imagine I wouldn’t be telling you about them right now.

    Great stuff, Marc.

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Welcome back! Was it something I said?!?!

      If you are going to be in any type of creative field you need to have thick skin. If he was willing to quit because of what other people said, it might not have been right for him…maybe he just wasn’t that into it.

      You could hate this post or every post I ever wrote and you’re not going to convince me to quit. Period.

      It’s good to have you back Joe!

  • http://twitter.com/LEAmerman Laura Amerman, CFRE

    well, you know you’re speaking my language. I’ve noticed for a long time that small change becomes possible when a select few espouse big hairy ideas. Big ideas often piss people off, especially if it requires people start thinking differently about entrenched ideas.

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      I knew you would connect with this one…you and your potty mouth! So, what are your big ideas? Huh?

  • http://twitter.com/Sarahsreading Sarah Penner

    Marc, there’s as reason that I follow this blog and you on Twitter. Not only do you seem to be a genuine guy, you also write very thought provoking posts. I’ve been struggling with doing this on my own blog. I am a very naked person (not literally) in real life but I’ve been struggling with putting it on my blog. I seem to be stuck on wanting people to ‘like me’. Thank-you for this insightful post that has given me the kick I needed to post my thoughts, even if some people may not like what I say. People will either like me for me… or they can go to one of the other 900 kazillion blogs out there.

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      So it’s kazillion? That’s what comes after bazillion? That’s great to know, thanks for that!

      You’re dead on in thinking that it doesn’t matter what other people think. You are talking to someone who has lived both sides of that coin. I spent my life trying to appease everyone else. If someone looked at me funny I would spend the rest of the day stressing over what it all meant and why they didn’t like me. It was paralyzing.

      It wasn’t until I physically decided to give that up that I felt the weight of everyone’s opinions lifted. It is very freeing. I’m sure you could overcompensate and take it too far in the other direction, but I’d rather live that way than the way I was living (if you could even call that living).

  • http://twitter.com/bennettdoneit Heather Bennett

    Awwww. You used the “P” word! I’m telling! Sailor! ;) But seriously, a good word.

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Get your mind out of the gutter…didn’t you see the picture of the cute little kitty? Sheesh. Some people.

  • Rowena

    good stuff Dude.

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Thanks!!!

  • Louise @ Foxy and Fabulous

    Never a truer word spoken. Flip fence-sitting, and the safety of the middle lane, the bird. Stat. We all need to hurry up and stand for something FFS!

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Nicely put! …and for those of you that don’t know what FFS stands for, before you look it up, remove small children from the vicinity.

  • Linda Doty

    I’m good at the naked part (and even that, I think, has to be used with discrimination… someone who is naked all the time gets just as boring and predictable as someone who isn’t). I really struggle with the be-unpopular part. Dammit, I just want to make people laugh. Or talk. Occasionally cry. But I don’t want to lose friends and referee debates. I don’t have the balls or the desire to be controversial in my blogging. I can be controversial in other places though. ;)

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      At one point in my life I would agree with you. I was a people pleaser. My goal was to make everyone happy all of the time. An impossible feat that I failed miserably at but kept trying. It wasn’t until that first time I lit a fire and was called a “pretentious douche” that I felt completely free for the first time in my life. They said it and yet somehow i am still alive! I no longer cared what most people said or what they thought after that.