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Creating Expert Blogs: Step Zero- The Importance of Starting from Zero

posted Jan 12, 2017, 9:10 PM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Jul 26, 2017, 12:35 PM ]

In my research I have seen many step-by-step guides for "how to blog". In the coming series I will even refer to some of my favorites. What I have observed is that few to none have a "Step Zero"; which happens to be the most crucial step in achieving not only success, but life altering career growth.

First, why zero is important. In our daily lives we ignore zero because it is commonly perceived as a placeholder for nothing. We only make time to appreciate zero when we are about to step on a scale. Zeroing the scale ensures that the following weight taken is accurate.
 For scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and really anyone looking for a particular result from a series of steps, zero is a crucial state for calibration. Zero in this instance describes a focal point or a foundation at which to start our efforts where all variables are known. This is essential for getting the best result.


The importance of zero: to get an accurate reading, scales must be calibrated to zero

By Algont from nl, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1788720

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This is relevant to our purpose because we are looking to increase our expertise our field. Most blogging steps lead to the ultimate goal of becoming a social media maven in your chosen area. However, this goal is not achieved through just creating an archive of content. While quality content can pave the way to success, true experts are not experts just by vanity metrics like number of articles.

 

Gaining mastery in any field requires deliberate practice.  Beginning with a self-assessment at zero allows us to create a basepoint on which to an improve upon. To achieve mastery, you first must determine what zero looks like for you.  This is done through the initial steps of deliberate practice.


In Cal Newport's "So Good they Can't Ignore You," he discusses deliberate practice rituals as seen in renown musicians , comedians, and network television writers. These are all careers that require a level notoriety to obtain success. He then lays out a plan for deliver practice to build the career capital to reach levels of notoriety. His examples like guitarist Mark Casstevens, comedians like Christ Rock, Steve Martin, even including writer Anders Ericsson; they had to become known to achieve success. They had to practice their craft until it was remarkable.


This craftsman's mindset is rarely seen outside of "artistic" fields, where practice and expertise is key to even make headway. There is no such thing as a mediocre musician, just one who has developed a style that is rare, valuable, and sought after. Newport demonstrates that this can be replicated in your field to help set you apart, create quality content and assist navigating all aspects of your career in confidence. This is particularly important for this current skills based economy.

According to Richard Greenwald at Brooklyn College, his book "The Death of the 9 to 5" gives data driven parallels between our current economy and the classic medieval European economy. In the later, artisans drove the economy and also had to quickly obtain notoriety in their fields. They also dedicated their whole lives to their practice and perfecting their craft. Greenwald maintains that the same can be said of entrepreneurs in the current age, and in fact, spoke at many freelancer's conferences inspiring these "new age artisans" with data from the past to guide their career moves.

 

To bring deliberate practice in your own life requires daily reflection and focus. "Zeroing" the scale to begin allows you to gauge how to add and explore new practices. You can use the form attached based off of Newport's "Deep Work" ritual template attached below.

 

Using this ritual, you'll be given space to:

  • Identify your craft and your goals
  • Think of ways to visualize and live by your mission
  • Tabulate time and things needed for your Deep Work session
  • Gauge successes and areas of imperilment for developing your craft
  • Identify next steps and possible routines to improve your efficiency.


In this new year, it is appropriate to begin with considering focal point zero. Ideally, you will begin every routine honoring your mission and recognizing the moment: things that you need, challenges you may face. It is not possible to develop visionary sight until you recognize what is needed in that moment.

 
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Rahni Jere Sumler,
Jan 12, 2017, 9:10 PM
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