Keeping My Eyes Up

When I come back after an extended break from playing soccer, whether because of injury or vacation, I always struggle to recover my field vision. When the ball comes to me at these times, my eyes seem to naturally want to look down at my feet and at the ball, instead of looking up to see where the other players are on the field. My decision making and my overall play suffer quite a bit as a result. I have to consciously and repeatedly remind myself to keep my head up. It takes me a few weeks to get back in the habit of assuming I have control of the ball with my feet so that I can look around and make good choices on where to move the ball.

I’m in a similar state right now with my writing. Back when I was blogging regularly, I understood without much conscious effort what the objections to my piece would be, so that I could address those objections in advance. But when I haven’t written in a while, I lose that habit. When I’m rusty, I have to deliberately go through my writing and make sure I’ve thought through those potential objections.

My first two entries after returning to blogging this week generated about 40 readers each. So I didn’t worry about needing to restore that habit so fast, I figured my readers will be patient, and it will come. But my story yesterday about MLB’s Customer Alignment Problem surprised me by finding it’s way to over 2,000 readers. And so my rustiness became a bit more of an issue.

So let me address a couple of things that I screwed up yesterday:

  • I assumed my audience of 40 were all regular readers of mine, and that they would know that the island I lived on was Alameda. Understandably, many of the new readers did not know that, and assumed when I said “island” that it was some rural place. That made my complaints about my cell phone coverage confusing. What I wrote only makes sense if you know that Alameda is a densely populated island, and there are many buildings in the way that interfere with cell phone coverage. I also didn’t mention that even though the cell phone coverage has improved of late, I still choose to continue to live without one.
  • My biggest mistake was not specifically mentioning by name. The people who have and root for a team outside the market where they live love the product. I should have made clear that for those people is, like ticket sales, an area where MLB does get direct feedback. My point wasn’t that MLB gets no direct feedback from their direct sales to fans, but that the ratio of indirect-to-direct revenues is increasing at a rapid rate.

Some minor mistakes there, but when you’re trying to improve, that’s OK. Science shows that if you want to improve, you should aim to fail about 20-50% of the time. Right now I’ve made clear mistakes in 33% of my blog entries, so that’s about right.

Hopefully, I’ll soon stop making these particular kinds of mistakes, and progress on to making more challenging ones. I plan to write a little bit about politics soon. That makes pre-covering your objections particularly important, because when it comes to things where people already have pre-formed opinions, people will read what they want to read, instead of what you write. I’m sure I’ll learn all kinds of new lessons from that.

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