Suck It Up, Do the Work, Win

December 6, 2012

It’s 10:00pm. I just got home from work, and I have a blog post due tomorrow morning. Am I about to write complete junk just to meet my publication schedule?

Let’s table that for a moment.

A funny thing happened on Monday; I posted some thoughts in our Monthly Mash regarding the publication frequency here at Customers That Stick. Little did I know that I was stepping sidelong into a hot discussion about publication schedules and their impact on content quality.

Both Tom Webster and Christopher Penn, two of the smartest people in the blogosphere, wrote pieces about publication schedules (here) and their negative impact on the quality of content. Geoff Livingston, whose comment here at CTS turned me onto the larger debate, wrote a thoughtful piece focused on the entire concept of content marketing. And Marcus Sheridan, in what I can only describe as ‘a piece I wish I had written,’ took up the defense of publication frequency.

All four pieces contain far more depth of thought than I have space to cover here; I highly recommend reading them.

Suck It Up, Do the Work, Win | Jackhammer

So what does this debate have to do with this blog post? Well, as I sit here typing ham-handedly on my iPad, exhausted, I feel the weight of this discussion viscerally.

The reality is that I’m at the end of a 16 hour day. I was at my desk at 5:20 this morning, and I didn’t wrap up until about 9:30 tonight. Both lunch and dinner were eaten at my desk. And social media, commenting, reading… forget it; it just wasn’t happening.

And I mention my schedule today for no other reason than to set the stage: the concerns some have about publication schedules forcing low quality content are real.

I’m tired, uninspired, and really don’t feel like writing much of anything.

Yet, I am writing, because I do have a content schedule and the commitment to that schedule is the only thing that keeps me producing regular content at all.

And besides, necessity is the mother of invention, and I think I’ve hit on a good idea for a post — this one.

I don’t know if this post will live up to someone’s yardstick of “quality content.” This post is not a 5,000 word tutorial on customer experience mapping or a detailed analysis of service delivery at the Apple store. This post is but a single thought, quickly conceived in prose but long formed over a lifetime of experience. That thought is as follows:

Successful people show up. They put in the work day after day, month after month, and year after year. They grind it out, more worried about purpose than perfection and more concerned with effort than exceptionalism. They think, they strategize, but eventually, they act.

And since I really don’t write about blogging, let me say that this is a lesson I bring from customer service. You see, customer service doesn’t happen on your schedule, it happens on your customers’ schedule.

You will be tired, cranky, and stressed out when the biggest customer service issue of the week hits. And guess what, you have to suck it up and deal with it. You don’t get to wait until you are well-rested and able to put in your best work.

You don’t get to do customer service when you feel like it.

Also, the organization that is consistently dedicated to service execution, warts and all, will outperform the team that just received the best customer service system in the world but is waiting until it is near-perfect before implementing it.

For the most part, the quest for near-perfection has more downsides than the imperfections themselves.

Sure, some moments are so bad they cannot be recovered from, but blog posts and customer interactions are not tests for which we get letter grades but moments in a series of interactions. When you deliver value every day, you are forgiven a stinker or two, because business and blogging at their best have a relational foundation, not a transactional one.

Let me be clear: Strategy is important. Analysis is important. Anyone who works closely with me offline will tell you that I am the opposite of the “jump in with both feet” kind of guy. Working smart is just as important as working hard.

But, if you let it, getting it right can subsume getting it done.

It is consistent action that separates great achievement from mere aspiration. Why? Because that’s the hard part; that’s the part fewer people are willing to do.

You see, if you’re a writer then write. Find a publication schedule that’s realistic for your life and goals and stick to it. If you’re in customer service (that’s a trick, everyone is!), determine the best service level that you can execute consistently with your current resources and work the program every day as best you can.

Suck It Up, Do the Work, Win | Starting Line

Now, please allow me to be clear on another point, there is no one way. That is fundamental. Every blog is different, every business is different, and every industry is different. In some places (academia comes to mind) striving for as-perfect-as-can-be might be a good strategy, but in business and blogging, purposeful effort beats calculated perfection every time.

To me, perfection is the guy standing at the starting line pondering his strategy as you cross the halfway point.

Suck It Up, Do the Work, Win.

20 thoughts on “Suck It Up, Do the Work, Win”

  1. Totally true. It doesn’t matter if I’m frustrated, tired, or whatever, I still have customers that depend on me. That means I show up and do the work.

    Bravo for showing up. Even when you’re tired, there’s some gems in your posts.

    1. Thanks Chase; I appreciate that. In my personal experience, I’ve always accomplished more when I’ve abandoned the quest for near-perfection and taken action. Hopefully, it’s intelligent, considered action — but action nonetheless.

  2. Hi Adam,

    Loved your comments over at The Sales Lion. I agree with you. You’ve articulated your point extremely well, even though you were running on empty at the time. Now I can only imagine what you can accomplish very first thing in the morning after a cup of java 😉

    Blogging is a slog. It’s extremely hard and any “guru” who tells you otherwise is simply selling snake oil. Like anything else it’s a combination of working smart, but having the tenacity to deal with the unromantic parts (baby steps) that get you through.

    Funny thing: Today I arrived at the office late: at 8:00 a.m. and felt like a total slacker.

    Amen, brother! Have a great day, and get some rest … 😉

    1. Hey Craig, It’s all about the caffeine — you’re in Seattle, so I know you understand!

      I appreciate the kind words about the comment and the post! It straddled a bit topically compared to my usual fare here, but it’s outside of the customer service field that I’ve experienced the desire for near-perfection hurting my progress. I like to think I’m not too casual with my content. I feel like I never put out junk information but that sometimes it might be presented with less than stellar writing. Just looking back at this post, I could edit it for another week. Of course, quality is in the eye of the beholder, and undoubtedly, some will not like what I do on my best days, much less my worst.

      You nailed it also. Blogging can be a slog. But when it’s not, it’s pretty fun.

      8:00am? You slacker! 🙂

  3. Blogging is a marathon and not a sprint. Success here is predicated upon sustaining your effort and showing up. Your comment about not being concerned with hitting a home run every time is spot on.

    If we want to continue with sports analogies you can bring out the offensive linemen in football. It is not a glamorous position and unless you pay close attention you often miss what they do.

    However they are a critical part of the team and success isn’t found without them. Your “ok” posts are part of the foundation that builds trust between you and your readers and Google.

    1. I wasn’t sure where you were headed with the offensive linemen Josh, but then you brought it home with “Your “ok” posts are part of the foundation that builds trust between you and your readers and Google.” I love that! Trust is a great word to bring into the discussion, because I do believe that consistency helps establish trust, and correspondingly, a relationship between blogger and reader.

  4. I remember a speaker who discussed about ” Service with a Heart”. Whether you are not in good mood and conflicts are up, always put your Head up and Remember that you are there for your Customers. You’re there to be in Service and show Positive Vibrations always to attract them. I can relate this also to blogging, there are times of writing block, incompatible schedules, head on deadlines but still we are Up and kicking for all our followers. I just get the strength on uplifting comments.

    1. Hi Jacque, You make a great point about remembering your end user, whether it be a customer or a reader. Keeping in mind the people you are adding value for is helpful in making sure you are not just going through the motions and you are making the effort every time.

  5. This totally inspired me today….and boy, did I need inspiring. Too much work, not enough, time or resources to do the kind of work I would like to do. I’m not a blogger, but it’s applicable in my life in so many ways. Thank you for sharing!

  6. I love my schedule. I post every day between 10:00 & 11:00 pm. It has worked for the last 1072 days for one reason. I like keeping my consecutive streak going. I would say I’m proud of well over 1000 of those posts. There are some stinkers in there, sure, but there are also some that I was sure were awful that were very well received.

    I liked your post, especially the parts about how tired you were and your day. I can relate to writing under those circumstances and for me anytime a writer grants us readers a look into their life beyond the keyboard, I am thrilled.

    I haven’t read any of the posts you mentioned, yet, but I’m sure they make some good points. That being said, for me, I have to write every day or the streak will end, I’ll lose interest and likely never write again. That is just how I am. So, if I want to continue to write a couple of novels a year, and I do, I have to blog. It is sort of like an addiction.

    1. Wow, Brian that is incredibly impressive. 1,072 consecutive days in a row — it is hard for me to even fathom. Kudos on maintaining such amazing consistency! And I know what you mean, I can completely relate to that feeling when you’ve done something so long that you don’t want to break the streak.

      All the posts I mentioned were worth reading — four really sharp folks with strong ideas. While the arguments could be applied to fiction (from both sides), I would say the focus in all cases was on “content marketing” i.e. business-related content.

      Keep up the good work! Are you going to buy yourself an ice cream or something at 1,500?

      1. I couldn’t imagine writing 365 days a year, if I only produced business related content. I’ve written my fair share of posts about social media, but they just “come to me”. Trying to do it more than once per week, would be a stretch.

  7. Great post Adam, I’m fairly new to blogging on somewhat of a regular basis but I can relate through images. I have a following for new work and I try to present new artistic prints a few times a week aside from my regular photography, I fight through it even when I’m tired or just a lack of energy because I know people will be looking for it, that usually is enough drive for me to push through. I personally need to develop consistency and schedule my postings, it’s not uncommon for me to send two postings out on the same day when I could have saved one for a day with a tight schedule.

    Thanks again for the motivation and I’m glad to have visited this posting.

    1. Thanks for the comments Ed. Of course, everyone is different, but the forced schedule has been the only thing that has worked for me. I didn’t have one for most of my first year, and it showed. My production was erratic and much lighter.

      Definitely save those posts for later! One goal I’ve had for awhile is to have a number of non-time sensitive posts queued up for emergencies. Of course, that would require actually getting ahead! So, I’m not sure when that will happen. 🙂

  8. I completely agree. You need to get out of your head and just do it. I can’t tell you how many people I know have a book idea just sitting in their head that they never write. I was that person. We’re all tired and overworked, but you’re right, you have to suck it up, do the work and get it done to win. Excellent post! I love it when bloggers link to other people’s blogs as you have. I will enjoy reading them 🙂

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