My name is Russell Newquist. I am a software engineer, a martial artist, an author, an editor, a businessman and a blogger. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science, but I'm technically a high school dropout. I also think that everything in this paragraph is pretty close to meaningless. I work for a really great small company in Huntsville, Alabama building really cool software. I'm the owner and head instructor of Madison Martial Arts Academy, which I opened in 2013 less to make money and more because I just really enjoy a good martial arts workout with friends. I'm the editor in chief of Silver Empire and also one of the published authors there. And, of course, there is this blog - and all of its predecessors. There's no particular reason you should trust anything I say any more than any other source. So read it, read other stuff, and think for your damn self - if our society hasn't yet over-educated you to the point that you've forgotten how.
There are no men like me. There is only me.
I know a lot of folks who are, shall we say, “attempted bloggers.” They have a blog. It exists. They’ve even made a few posts. But they haven’t updated it in forever – sometimes years. They tell me that they plan to get to it. Eventually. Yet they never do.
Almost all of these friends are hung up on “originality.” It’s not the only thing holding them back, but it’s a big one. And it’s common among writers of all kinds. “I want to say something original.” Fair enough – we all want to say something original. But originality is hard. It’s also overrated.
Most people honestly can’t process truly original thoughts. To the average person, when you say something original they just hear crazy talk. That’s because truly original ideas don’t yet have enough conceptual framework to introduce them to the masses. A truly original idea often requires a large body of supporting knowledge that the masses simply don’t have. Even educated people – even highly educated people – often don’t have the specialized domain knowledge necessary to process something truly unique.
That’s ok – you probably don’t have very many truly original ideas, anyway. Don’t beat yourself up for it. Neither does anybody else, really – or at least, very few people.
Those famous bloggers you read – the ones whose blogs are overflowing with great new ideas? They didn’t come up with those ideas on their own, either. Well, mostly. I know a couple of bloggers who have come up with some truly original ideas. Which is great. Until you realize that those same bloggers have written 14,000+ blog posts. How many of those were truly original ideas? Maybe a dozen.
And that leads to the key insight that I want to share with you today. Your audience doesn’t know everything that you know. Not by a long shot. I fight with this constantly. I’ve read thousands of books in my life. I’ve seen hundreds of movies, and thousands of hours of television shows. I’ve read tens of thousands of online articles, blog posts, reviews, stories and more. Possibly well over a hundred thousand. On all kinds of topics – fiction, non-fiction, politics, religion, philosophy, psychology, sociology, math, science, programming, language, history, and more. I have both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, and they’re not in the same field.
I’m not saying any of that to show off. I will have readers who have been exposed to more raw knowledge than I have. I probably already do have readers like that. The point isn’t the quantity of knowledge I’ve accumulated. The point is that there’s nobody else out there – nobody – who has read the exact same combination of books that I have. Nobody else has seen the same combination of movies. Nobody else has the same background knowledge.
And that’s true for you, too. You know many things that your readers don’t. Don’t be afraid to share that knowledge. It might be obvious to you. It might even be obvious to some of your readers. But it’s not obvious to everybody.
I have the opposite problem of what I’ve describe above. Whereas my friends don’t feel they have anything to talk about, I have plenty. But I also have a strong tendency to forget just how much background knowledge my readers don’t have. I’m aware of this, and I tend to write with this fact in mind. But I don’t always succeed. Even when I focus on it, I often leave out important details.
Either way, it’s very valuable to keep in mind just what it is that you know that many others don’t. Share that knowledge. Sure, you might not write it as elegantly as your favorite big name blogger. But as crazy as this may sound, not everybody reads that famous blogger’s work. And one or two of the folks who don’t might just stop by your blog someday.
It may seem like I’ve done a lot of reading recently. In reality, I’ve just finished a lot of reading recently. I’ve had a lot of books (especially non-fiction) spinning all at once, and they’ve all kind of wrapped up.
Last week I finally finished reading Gorilla Mindset by Mike Cernovich. This is one that I’ve been reading since the beginning of the year. That’s pretty odd, because one of the great things about this book is how quick and easy of a read it is.
“Wait a sec,” you say. “How does that work?”
This book took me a long time to finish because I was too busy implementing it. Even before I was halfway done, I knew there were things in the book that I wanted – that I needed to do. For myself, I decided to focus on a few things at a time rather than trying to make every change all at once. I’ve had good results with that.
Let me get this out of the way: I detest self-help books. Most of them are completely full of shit and aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Most of them give you advice that isn’t all that helpful. Which is fine, because most of them are written for people who don’t actually want to change. This book isn’t like that. Mr. Cernovich actually wants to help you. For the typical self-help reader, that will make this a book they don’t actually want. But for those looking to actually improve their lives, this is the rare self-help book that’s actually worth a damn.
In simple terms, this book is largely about how to actually accomplish more and get things done. Not only that, it gives good advice on getting better quality out of what you’re doing. That particular combination is powerful for becoming more successful at basically everything you do.
The frustrating thing about reading this book is how many of Mr. Cernovich’s suggestions are ways that I used to live my life. I’ve let many of them slip. I had good reason to. I had some specific life circumstances that I had to react to. But those circumstances are long over, and it’s well past time that I returned to my old mindsets. This book gave me the boot to the ass that I needed to do that. It also brought some excellent new ideas that have proven to be very helpful.
One other thing that’s truly great about this book is that it’s not wasting space on filler. A great many non-fiction books have a single great idea, cover that idea thoroughly in the first few chapters, and then spend the rest of the book repeating that same idea over and over and over. It’s the reason why I have shelves full of non-fiction books that I’ve never finished. Once I got the concept, the rest of the book just wasn’t worth reading. This book isn’t like that at all. Each chapter is actually covering something different. Each chapter covers the basic concept, gives some examples, and then gives a checklist and some “homework” at the end. A few of them also have some interviews with experts. That’s it – there’s no wasted filler.
As Mr. Cernovich himself points out, not every piece of advice in here is for everybody. There are a few things in the book that I don’t think will actually work very well with my own base personality. Take what works for you and apply it. As for the rest… see if you can apply the concept in another way. But if you can get through this entire book without finding two or three changes that will help your life in a major way, then congratulations on the amazing life you already lead. Keep living that life. For the rest of us, this book is a gold mine.
Gorilla Mindset gets five out of five stars. This book is an absolute must read.