3 Truths About Business Ups and Downs

When I was growing up, ABC’s Wide World of Sports had as its tagline, “The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.” That pretty much describes my life as a blogger and entrepreneur.

By that, I don’t mean that I experienced defeat in the distant past, but now my life is filled with one victory after another. Hardly. Often, I experience both of these in a single week.

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

For example, last Monday, I wrote a post about Evernote, a popular software package that acts as my digital brain. Honestly, I didn’t put a lot of effort into it, but it went semi-viral.

In three days, it garnered sixty-two thousand page views, almost nine hundred Facebook shares, and seven hundred tweets. It obviously struck a nerve. By my standards, it was a home run. I was elated.

Maybe I’ve cracked the code, I thought.

Not so much. On Wednesday, I posted a new podcast episode on leadership and accessibility. I shared some lessons I was learning about saying no as a leader. I felt it was thoughtful and really important.

But my audience? Crickets.

Typically, my podcast hits the iTunes Business top five or ten on the day I release it. This time, it didn’t even crack the top twenty. It made me want to tap the microphone and say, “Is this thing on?”

A Game of Singles and Doubles

Have you ever experienced these kinds of results? I’m sure you have. If so, you’re normal. It isn’t that unusual.

  • I only achieve the semi-viral response—a home run—about once every fifty or so posts.

  • This is also about how often I experience the cricket response—a strikeout.

  • Most everything else is somewhere in the middle—singles and doubles.

In the early days, when I was just starting to build my online platform, my emotions pretty much tracked with my results. If I had a big hit, I was excited and motivated. If I struck out, I wanted to throw in the towel and quit.

Three Truths That Keep Me Going

But over the years, I’ve learned three important truths.

  1. A post or episode does not make your platform. One post will not make you or break you. Sure, I enjoy the traffic, attention, and engagement when something really works. But I have also learned not to get too discouraged when something doesn’t.

  2. Amateurs quit, but pros keep swinging. Professionals aren’t smarter than you. They probably don’t have secrets you don’t have—or can’t get. Instead, they are just persistent. When they whiff, they adjust their grip, straighten their shoulders, and take another swing. Because they stay at it, they eventually see results.

  3. I have a better chance of winning if I stay in the game. So many people walk off the field before the clock runs out. They haven’t lost; they are just behind. But, the future is wide open. Anything is possible. The key is to keep stepping up to the plate. When I do this, good things happen—not always immediately, but eventually.

And the great thing about being a blogger, a podcaster, or any other kind of creative, is that nothing is wasted. Every setback becomes the raw material you need to create better, more nuanced art.

So next time you create something of value and don’t get the response you want, remember, even the pros only hit the ball 30 percent of the time they step up to bat. That’s just part of the game. Whether you win or lose, there’s always something to learn.

Note: The podcast I referenced above actually did better than I initially thought. I changed the title, and it took off. It got as high as #2 on iTunes Business yesterday. Go figure. (I wrote this post before it happened.) But the point is the same: You will not usually hit consecutive home runs.

Question: What was your most recent victory or defeat?