Creative Commons License photo credit: Mrs Logic

Today’s inspiration comes from Hannah Keys (this makes two posts in a row mentioning her), who wrote Stop Looking at Other Girls on her Stop Being Crap personal site.

The premise of the post, aimed at women, is that you should appreciate what you have physically, rather than looking at other women, deciding that they are more attractive than you in one way or another, and beating yourself up. Instead, Hannah says, you should appreciate what you do have and understand that each person has their own unique situation that helps dictate how they look or what they weigh. She explains this in her own funny way, so check it out.

I think that most (all?) people do this. Hannah did (totally unnecessarily!), I did and, heck, do. It’s a very human thing to do. I’m my own worst critic. If not physical appearance, it’s some decision, or my writing, or my business or when I speak at conferences (I pretty much tear myself apart every time I get off stage).

We also do this with the online communities that we manage. This community has all of these cool new features. This community has so many more posts. This community is so big and has some many more active members. They have more Facebook fans, more Twitter followers and more RSS subscribers. This is a fool’s game.

Being number one (in whatever way) is a fun thing. But, if you live and die by being number one, you will likely never be as happy as you should be. It’s OK to pursue that, and to work towards it – just like it’s OK to want to change your physical appearance, or lose weight, and to work towards that. However, when it becomes your obsession and your sole purpose and you are never happy unless you accomplish it, that’s dangerous and leads to a bitter existence.

I’ve known people who would contact me and express how there was this other community and how they’ll never be as big and they should just close up now. That’s not the way to think. There is plenty of room for diversity. One community on a particular topic will be completely different from another one on the same topic. There is plenty of opportunity to offer an alternative, something different, something that will appeal to others.

There have been people that I’ve banned from one of my communities who have gone on to start their own. One of the problems that a lot of these people have is that when they start their community, they focus on me and what I’m doing and how evil I am. While I am sure that discussions about how terrible I am as a human being will be fun in the short term, they don’t generally build community. If you’re obsessing with me, you’re not executing.

Yes, it can be very helpful to look at what other communities are doing and learn from it. I recommend that and do it myself. Just like it can be helpful to learn about someone else’s workout routine, their diet or where they go to get their hair cut. But, when that becomes obsession with being them, copying them and holding them up as the ultimate example of success, that’s where it is an issue. Learning from them, and trying to be them, are two different things. When I wrote the book, I just wanted people to learn from my experiences. I don’t want anyone to be me.

I want to be the number one in what my communities are. Not the number one largest overall. I mean, I’ll take it, but that’s not what it’s about. Like Kanye West, I’m a soldier of culture. Community is about culture, not numbers. I don’t care about numbers. Instead, I work hard to create a certain atmosphere and appreciate what I do have.

There are larger martial arts communities than KarateForums.com. I’m cool with that. I love the atmosphere that we have. I love the members that we have and how they understand what the community is about. I love how people speak to one another. I love how when a member shares a very real, human issue, our members treat them with compassion. That’s what I care about. I regularly make decisions that lower our traffic. It’s called management. Heh.

There is plenty of room for great success without being the largest or most popular. That sort of success is fleeting, anyway. You can’t always be number one, but you can always be you.