Note: This is a more personal post than I typically write. Maybe it helps explain the reasoning behind what I do.
Every once in a while someone asks me to change the way I write.
“I really like your site, but if you could just change xyz then I think you’d really be more appealing.”
These comments are usually meant in good faith, but the message is still the same.
“If you weren’t so extreme, then you could bring in more people. You could expand your audience even larger. You could help more people!”
We’re in an interesting place. The site has about 10,000 subscribers and ~100,000 visitors/month these days. Considering when I started this thing 3 years ago, I was living in my parents basement & just wanted to run an indoor triathlon, I’m still in awe of what this has turned into.
Complete world takeover is on the horizon 🙂
But we’ll come back to that in a second…
The Domino Effect
If you’ve ever watched a domino world record – they’re pretty intense. You can get an idea of the scope of some of these events by watching this video
But you can also learn something about maximizing your impact from dominos. See dominos don’t try to knock over everything at once. In fact, if they do, they usually fall flat and don’t. They can max out at knocking over 2 or 3 other dominos. That’s about all one domino can really handle.
But that’s not why people find domino world records impressive. Nobody watches a domino setup to watch 1 domino knock over 1, 2 or even 3 other dominos. Honestly, that would suck, take only a fraction of a second and be boring as all get out.
People watch domino setups to see the effect that knocking over 1 domino has on another and then another and then another – a thousand times over. It’s the consecutive nature of one domino after the other that’s the real show. That’s what people come to watch.
I’m always trying to grow, expand and reach more people with the site and various projects we’re working on – but the end goal is not about how many people I reach on my own. There’s some out there that simply won’t get me, my style or my approach on life.
And that’s fine.
Because it’s not really about me. I’m just a domino. I’m doing the one thing I’m supposed to do.
I write about pushing your limits and doing the impossible. I’m not going to temper that to make you feel good about cheating yourself, or tell you that we should all sit in a circle and sing kum-bah-yah. If you have a problem with that – please do both of us a favor and unsubscribe. There’s people on the internet that do that – but that’s not me.
See, I’m not really interested in just having “readers.” They’re great, but what I enjoy even more are “doers.” People who take the things they read and implement them in their lives – try them out on their own, experiment & share it with their circle of people in their own way.
I can’t reach everyone – but if I can reach someone who can reach someone who can reach someone – that’s still something. And that’s how you really influence people.
Besides: who knows what the people around you need better than you?
So when people say: “I really like your site, but if you could just change xyz then I think you’d really be more appealing.”
My response is: “that sounds great, why don’t you do it?”
Because, if that’s what you think the world needs – then that’s what you should go and create. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you – don’t try to convince someone else to knock over the domino in front of you – that’s lazy – that’s your job.
Because I’m just a domino – I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do.
- I’m not going to do life coaching.
- I’m not going to tell you to follow your passion (in fact, you should do the opposite).
- I’m not going to tell you to stay comfortable & make the easy choice.
- And I’m definitely not going to sitting in circle singing kum-bah-ya with you.
So sorry, but I’m not sorry. That’s not my role.
I’m going to talk about pushing your limits, doing stuff that’s hard and doing what’s never been done before. The impossible.
If you don’t like that – there’s lots of other places on the internet to hang out :).
Be A Domino
You have your own message. Your own job. Your own domino to knock over.
Be a domino.
Do the one thing you’re supposed to do.
Knock over the next domino.
The ones you do might have a different job and fall in a different way, but you can’t control what they do. All you can control is you.
Do the one thing you’re supposed to do.
Knock over the next domino.
Then stand back & watch the domino effect happen.
(If you enjoyed this post, be a domino & share this with someone in your circle of influence).
photo credit: photography.andreas
p.s. If you’re still interested in why I take such a strong stance, this is why I write.
Damian Thompson says
I gotta admit, I dig the occasional introspective or personal posts from writers I follow. Good stuff.
Can I get some life coaching on following my passion of staying comfortable and making the right choices in my drum circle group from you?
I would like it for free.
Thanks in advance.
Joel Runyon says
There are no words 🙂
We can talk drum circle passion strategies when you come through Chicago.
This is amazing. I just wrote about the idea of just being me when it comes to writing. So many people tell me what to write and how to write it. It’s crazy. Every attempt to try and write something that is not from my heart brings me further away from myself. I want to help people with their lives through writing but it can’t be what others say will make me more successful. Thanks for sharing such a strong take on the subject. I will continue to visit. Thanks and stay impossible.
Interesting. I do see Kirsch’s effect. 😉
Brandon Cunningham says
I agree totally! I have someone that goes easy on me and that’s me! I need someone to kick my $&@ when I want to stop on 1 mile or go home instead of workout. I can look in the mirror for BS. I need REAL from you. Keep up the good fight.
I LOVE this. I hadn’t thought of it in terms of dominos before but that’s exactly what I want to do – have my effect on other people, so that they can go off and have their effect on other people/the world/the things they care about.
And I totally agree with the above poster – a kick up the backside is what we all need, and this is definitely the place to get it. Feeling pumped again now!
Fr. Chris says
Great stuff today Joel.
don’t compromise. don’t cheat yourself. embrace the suck
You rock! Keep doing what you’re doing. Forget the masses that’s so not you.
Louise Kock says
Out of pure frustration and desperation I googled “How to get my $otivation back and stubled onto your site. You said one thing that made so much sense. There is a difference between motivation and disciplines and embrace the suck! Thanks! A much needed kick on my behind!
Geoff Reese says
Wow Joel, this is great stuff. I speak in high schools about making an impact in life. You’ve given me some new material to think about for them. It’s simple and profound.
Stick with it bro and keep doing your thang!
C’mon Joel, don’t be so impossible all the time, sit down in the circle and sing with us…..
Someone’s doing the impossible Joel, kum-bah-ya
Someone’s doing something they hate Joel, kum-bah-ya
Someone’s taking a cold shower Joel, Kum-bah-ya
Oh Joel, kum-bah-ya.
Different strokes different folks! Your message rocks. Please don’t change. There are plenty of Stuart Smalley websites.
“I deserve good things. I am entitled to my share of happiness. I refuse to beat myself up. I am an attractive person. I am fun to be with. ”
Keep preaching !!!!
Amanda Bumgarner says
I love your response! That is so true. If you don’t like the way someone is doing something, go do that yourself. That’s a big reason why I started my own blog. I was working as an editor, reading what other people wrote, and I wanted to write what I wanted to write the way I wanted to write it. You can never know how you’re being used in the domino chain.
Thanks for the post 😀
Hélène Boisseau says
Hi Joel, your blog is exactly what I so desperately need. I have clinical depression. I’m on many meds. 3 years ago I trained and did my first triathelon at age 46 to help with depression, It helped tremendously, and I enjoyed the race tremendously. I joined the tennis club and loved it. I did it again the following year. This year i did not start training on time and just layed on tbe lazy boy reading or sleeping. After reading your blog I want to do the impossible ; train for the triathelon in 2 months instead of 4. Discipline I don’t have to like it, I just have to do it. Thanks!
Crazy awesome metaphor for creating and facilitating change among yourself and others. We all have to be that catalyst, that spark that starts something new.
Three points, and I’ll try to be brief for a change:
1. Just read your latest Cold Shower Therapy (CST) post at the HQ site, and rather than typing here, “… and I’m gonna take a cold shower as soon as I’m done with this comment,” I can legitimately say instead, “just stepped out of a freakin’ cold shower before typing this comment.” How long have I been reading your posts about CST? As long as you’ve been writing them. How long has it taken me to DO it? Yeah, well, so I’m a slow starter.
2. “Domino effect,” the way you describe and use it in this post is a perfect analogy for what you do at this site, or more accurately, what you encourage others to do. One push-up won’t be much. One pushup might only lead to one more push-up. But in ten days you (meaning me) will have done ten push-ups, by which time you (meaning me) might be able to do two push-ups a day, and ultimately… well, anyway, yeah great analogy for the “one step at a time” principle.
3. “More personal than you usually write?” Didn’t BIT start off as an extremely personal blog, about your own efforts to tackle seemingly impossible goals? Didn’t you write about feeling self-conscious wearing those weird monkey feet shoes to run in, and looking dorky as you gasped your way across the finish line in endurance events? Wasn’t it about you sharing your thoughts and opinions and often “thinking out loud” as you adopted new challenges and strategized new approaches? HQ is a bit more “formal,” but I always thought BIT was the “personal site.”
Ten-thousand subscribers and a hundred-thousand views per month? Now THAT is impressive — and obviously not Impossible… at least not anymore!
Joel Runyon says
The balance is maintaining both throughout. I think my personal story will always drive the site (hello impossible list), but the challenge is balancing “meaningful for me” (which I’ll always try to do) while also being “useful for others” (which requires editing & a filter of some sort) :).
In other words: I don’t write EVERYTHING that I do on the blog and I don’t publish everything I write.
Call it Domino Effect, Ripple Effect or whatever, the real challenge is the first step to take. I admire people who took it to the next level and passionately strive for better, worthier life with high amount of daily motivation. It requires inner strength, determination and devotion to once established goals. It is easy to create a theoretical goal, it is whole other matter to live up to what you have promised to yourself.
Keep fighting and keep motivating others to fight!! Thanks for your meaningful message
More appealing to who? The people who want the olive-drab, off the shelf – set your goals high and achieve them advice? The reason why I and others come to this site is because its different, novel and challenging. Joel is real. His advice and thinking is thought-provoking. You don’t like it? Read another ‘me too’ blog.
The day Joel becomes average is the day I unsubscribe – and other true fans will too. People really can’t get enough of themselves sometimes – armchair advisors are everywhere!