My title for this article deliberately seeks to draw attention to a flawed belief often referred to as "the silver bullet effect". Many folks seem to be convinced that in order to achieve anything outstanding or successful, there must be some secret or "hidden knowledge" that we all have to master in order to "make it."
For example, a number of people have asked me questions like: "Do I need a college degree to become a good writer?"
Let me suggest to you here and now that the difference between what many consider are the hallmarks of a successful writer and one who is struggling has little to do with so-called "secrets" or college degrees alone.
- There is no "silver bullet".
- The "education" you really need, first and foremost, is the interest in thinking deeply. College degrees not essential, but can help, because of the thought processes we go through to achieve.
Two Myths Debunked outlines a method of writing that I recommend you consider further, investigate more, test yourself, and by all means reject if you disagree.
Especially for writers, would-be writers, speakers and website communicators, do consider the following guidelines:
- There are no secrets — only gaps in knowledge, skills, experience. All perceived shortcomings can be addressed through applying focused work, making mistakes — and paying attention to what doesn't help us. One person's secret is to another, a self-evident fact.
- We are all constantly learning, especially when teaching.
- With a sufficiently strong desire, a basic education and a positive heart, anyone can learn anything they want to learn just as soon as they resolve to achieve the goal, work steadily, persist, and consistently work towards self improvement and eventual mastery.
- To achieve any single large or complex objective, create your own plan — one that works for you. Next, break your big goal down into a series of smaller, achievable action steps. Then begin: make a start. Measure your progress steps. Don't let anything stand in your way.
- Develop a lifelong love of continuous learning.
- Nurture a desire for creative and critical thinking. By critical, I mean don't necessarily accept what anyone says at face value. Do your own research, verify. There is a special wisdom in finding one the truth.
- Practice thinking differently to the mainstream. Why: that's where your best, most profitable ideas are most likely waiting to be born, developed, and shared. If you're doing what everyone else is doing, breaking through the noise will be hard. Use insight and supersense to find the normally invisible gaps between the barriers: they're always present, somewhere.
- Consciously be an active observer of life. Develop a keen sense of people, places and situations. Notice the details. Find the magic beads hiding in the average.
- Ask questions. Actively wonder why things are the way they are. Through the lens of a new perspective, there are always different answers.
- Make notes of anything and everything that captivates your attention — and seek to understand why.
- If you have been fortunate to have completed any kind of college degree, then your writing can almost certainly benefit since your mind has already been enriched, exercised, stretched, and tested in a variety of areas. Nevertheless, without doubt, successful novelists, writers and ace communicators emerge from all walks of life. There are different paths up the mountain. Who is to say one is better than another?
- By all means, gather knowledge from experts but don't necessarily automatically accept what you read or hear — including what you may find on this website too. I welcome you to challenge my suggestions also.
- Test often. Sometimes, ideas and methods presented by trailblazers are characteristically, at first considered crazy, then deemed quirky, followed by "cool", then acceptance as the norm, "clearly obvious", and finally as inspired masterpieces. Perhaps in time, many of today's "proven" ideas, will become "basic errors" in history, as future generations make new discoveries through access to ever better tools and techniques.
- Never be afraid to make your own discoveries.
Additional Key Traits of Highly Successful Communicators Include:
- An unquenchable burning need to write or speak (or both), publish, share, and connect with others.
- A willing desire to seek out and work in great detail.
- An uncommon level of curiosity.
- To aim for perfection even though we know that our work will never be perfect.
- A dogged persistence to complete the current task or project.
- A heightened respect and awareness of the passing of time in relation to both yourself and those people to whom you supply your book, article, speech, product, service or website.
- Setting and seeking to achieve only 3 core goals every day. We understand that overloading ourselves with too many goals is setting ourselves up for failure. Beyond our 3 objectives, we can add general preferences or themes, if time and energy allows.
- An understanding and awareness of how to avoid the hard work trap. However, work too hard in too short a time, and we can undo progress made. Be careful of the trap that hard work can lead us into. Why: some of our best ideas, strategies, and initiatives can come to us, not when we are working, but when our mind is relaxed. Relieve the pressure from yourself to make the best progress possible.
- A level of self-discipline that enables us to combat the many distractions that modern living throws in our direction, in order to meet our daily goals.
Ready? Great. Now go to it!