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What Martial Arts Taught Me About Freelancing

I spent just shy of 18 years studying Martial Arts (at Fred Villari’s Studios of Self-Defense in Glendale, CA).  While I wasn’t especially surprised that it ended up saving my life once, I was surprised that so much of what I learned transferred over to my freelance writing career…

Armen Heroian and Lauren R. Tharp

Master Armen Heroian and me

Rules of the School

My “system”/school of Martial Arts training has its students live by 5 “Rules”/words:  Effort, Etiquette, Sincerity, Character, and Self-Control.

These Rules continue to influence not only my life, but my professional career.

Effort

Definition: 1.) Strenuous use of energy. 2.) Attempt.

What it Means to Me:  Try.  Really try.  As Wayne Gretsky once said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”  Or, as I prefer, “You better work hard or you might as well quit!” as said by the lyrical wordsmith M.C Hammer.  We all know that “the only failure is to not try.”  This applies to your business as well.  No matter how daunting a task may seem, if you accepted to do it, then you should give it all you’ve got!  Make the effort.  Don’t be lazy.

Etiquette

Definition: Rules of correct behavior.

What it Means to Me:  Don’t be a jerk.  Treat others the way you want to be treated.  Manners!  All that good stuff.  Also, the rules of “correct behavior” tend to adapt and change depending on what crowd you’re with.  Learn how to best blend in with those you’re working for/with by socializing with them.

Sincerity

Definition: Without having pretence or deceit.

What it Means to Me:  Be honest.  There have been times that I’ve been described as “painfully honest;” but, trust me, I’d rather be brutal in my honesty than to live my life as a liar.  Living your life and handling your business dealings with honesty and integrity will not only make your life easier (the truth is easier to keep track of than a web of lies!), but it can also save your butt if something goes awry!  I had an incident a few months ago where a client was trying to give me grief.  The main thing that saved me?  The truth.

Character

Definition: 1.) Qualities making a person or thing what he, she, or it is. 2.) Moral strength. 3.) Person in a novel, play, etc. 4.) Letter or sign used in writing, printing, etc. 5.) Noticeable or eccentric person. 6.) Reputation

What it Means to Me:  Be yourself.  Or even “be true” to yourself.  For me, this Rule is very connected to the Rule of Sincerity…  Never compromise your principles or who you are for anyone—not even if they’re paying you!

Self-Control

Definition: Ability to control one’s own behavior.

What it Means to Me:  One time, during a test, I was near-to-tears with frustration because I couldn’t do everything that was expected of me.  It was because of my bad hip—a birth defect I had no control over.  I was making the Effort, but because I couldn’t succeed, I thought it meant nothing.  I thought that I wasn’t exemplifying the 5 Rules of the School.  That’s when Master Dannon told me something I will never forget: “By not doing something that hurts you, you’re showing Self-Control by knowing your own limitations.”  I always try to keep this in mind with my work.  By knowing my own limitations—by exhibiting some Self-Control—I’m able to not get overwhelmed by my projects…which lets me put in the required Effort to do my best work for the clients I do choose to work for.  It all comes full circle.

Master Dannon Moore with Lauren R. Tharp

Master Dannon became a Master on the same day I became a black belt

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Posted by on June 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Freelancers and the Importance of Socializing

Socializing with “normal” friends can help ebb eccentric tendencies and keep you from alienating your clients.

I own that outfit in real life

A completely accurate portrayal of what I look like when left up to my own devices

 The Anti-Social Freelancer

Most freelancers, especially freelance writers, work from home.  They pick their own clients and plan their own schedules.  Unfortunately, many of us forget to schedule a little “free time” into our dayplanners, leaving us anti-social and isolated.  (Or, if you’re like I am, being alone for long lengths of time can lead you to start humoring your more eccentric personality traits).

The Problem with Isolation

Isolation might not bother you.  In fact, many of us enjoy being alone on our days off.  However, the problem with complete and total reclusiveness from your fellow humans is this: Your detachment will start to affect your work.

Think of it this way:

  1. Your clients are probably humans/people.
  2. If you have no contact with humans/people other than yourself, you probably can’t relate to humans/people (or at least can’t in a way that’s considered “normal”)
  3. If you can’t relate to humans/people, you can’t relate to your clients.
  4. If you can’t relate to your clients, they won’t hire/pay you!

Oh noes!!

Keeping in Touch: What Can Help

I’m not saying that you have to start partying or even that you have to go out and physically see your friends every week.  There are lots of ways to stay “in touch” with the human race…

  • E-mail.  Making an effort to e-mail a friend (or friends) each week—particularly one who’s on the “outside”—can help to keep you feeling “connected.”
  • Phone.  Same thing as e-mail, but with more talk-y and less write-y.
  • Watch TV.  No, they aren’t “real” people (I’m not telling you to start thinking of Quinn Fabray as your girlfriend and Barney Stinson as your best friend), but real people are watching these shows: By watching—or at least knowing about—what’s on television, you start to absorb the lexicon (most of humanity’s common “slang” originates from the media) and get to know what people are talking about around the proverbial water cooler.
  • Know the News.  One of the first “tip offs” that you’re “out of touch” is when you don’t know the news.  For instance, if I had made a comment like “If we ever catch Osama Bin Laden…” after the events of May 1, 2011, I’d certainly get more than a few funny looks.
  • Get Out of the House.  People are EVERYWHERE.  No matter where you go, you’re bound to run into someone.  Even a simple “How are you today?” exchange with the bag clerk at the grocery store can give you some much-needed human contact.
  • Hang Out with Friends!  Hey, sometimes the classics just can’t be beat!
 
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Posted by on May 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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