I recently learned something that completely changed my relationship to a skill I was trying to learn.
(where I’m known as feeling like I had to say something brilliant. I described it to people who I’d ask for help as a kind of “stage fright’ and often they’d pooh-pooh my experience, since I’m basically fearless on a concert stage and therefore something as simple as Twitter should be easy for me.
But it wasn’t.
These people would give me techniques for organizing my tweets. They’d tell me the five (or 3 or 7) kinds of essential daily tweets I should make. Blah blah blah.
I’d taken courses, read ebooks, done research, created databases, tried to just make myself do it – and I just couldn’t feel comfortable with Twitter. It felt like a painful, obligatory ‘chore’ that I was really BAD at.
Then, a few weeks ago, I heard a podcast with Gary Vaynerchuk and Pat Flynn (I download Pat’s “Smart Passive Income” podcasts and listen to them when I run) – and somewhere in the middle of the interview, Gary said something like “Well, Twitter is all about listening” – as if that was a given, that everyone knew. And – BING!
I thought, “Wait a second, here. I KNOW how to listen! That’s something I really know how to do.”
And the whole experience changed for me. I’d found my “Way In.” My wormhole from where I am right now into a dimension that was, until this moment, inaccessible.
Everything else in the interview was interesting but went by in a blur – yet this one statement hit home.
This was the “way in” I’d been looking for — but I was so lost, so out-of-my-context, and felt so alien in the environment that I didn’t even know there might BE a ‘way in’ for ME. I just thought this was something I wasn’t GOOD at and that’s why I felt so uncomfortable with it.
So (I said to my students this morning) … the ‘thing you need to hear’ or the ‘thing you need to know,’ your “Way in” could be very simple. But it’s likely different for each person, because your Way-In is based on who you are, what you know, how you think and what you are already good at.
As adult learners, while it’s important to learn ‘new’ skills and concepts, it’s even more important to find our wormholes, the shortcuts between the two dimensions of What-we-deeply-KNOW-how-to-do and What-we’re-trying-to-do-RIGHT-NOW.
But stumbling on my wormhole – the one thing I needed to hear – and being ready to hear it so I resonated when I heard it, and knew it was something I needed to hear — that was what took time, and practice – including all the practice of playing Twitter badly – because I needed to find, or stumble on, the one tiny thing that spoke to me about my way in to Twitter. My wormhole.
And I needed to be fluent enough with the mechanics to be able to step into that wormhole when it showed up.
So … I said to my students:
Look for the things that speak to you, the things that make you think, “Hey, I can do that!” Then sit down and do that one thing over and over and over – because that’s your thing, and the more you do it, the more you own it.
And meanwhile … just focus on getting fluent at as many of the techniques, skills and ideas you’re comfortable with so that when you stumble on your wormhole, you’ll have the facility even if it’s a very simple, rudimentary facility – to step inside.
MY wormhole to Twitter now, is to listen with my eyes and look for tweets that evoke a response in me, then share that response. Sometimes it’s a smart-ass response – sometimes it’s thoughtful – sometimes it’s emotional.
Now all I do is listen-and-respond — the thing I’ve spent my life doing as an improvising musician.
Eventually I might find other ways I love to engage there … or not … but for now, that’s all I’m doing and I’m doing it over and over and over and over, because that’s what I know how to do.
And the weird thing is — it’s really FUN.
*Addendum: This post started as a note to my “Hip Harp Toolkit” students this morning about how to find their own way in the course material … and then it took off into another dimension.
By the way, from this post I also learned that:
- Gary Vaynerchuk’s Twitter handle is @GaryVee
- Pat Flynn’s is
- Pat Flynn’s podcast interview with Gary Vaynerchuk was #89 of the “Smart Passive Income” podcasts
- Gary Vaynerchuk’s new book Jab-Jab-Jab-Right Hook is fascinating
- Pat Flynn is a wonderful interviewer who keeps asking the kinds of questions I’d want to ask to get to the heart of how his guests actually DO the things they do
- I should put my own Twitter handle here: @HipHarpist
- And I just learned that it’s really exhausting to add all the links you need to add to a post like this!!! (Must find wormhole … or possibly just a kindly worm who loves adding links to posts) (and don’t get me started on worms and how important they are – I learned to love worms as a kid in J. Allen Boone’s book “Kinship with All Life“)
- That little red-outlined Twitter-bird at the top? I was trying to make a Twitter-bird with flames coming out of it.