Real Artists Ship

“Real artists ship.”

That is a great quote from Steve Jobs and it has nothing to do with finger painting or mailing a letter.

When Jobs said it, he meant that whenever you create something, it is important to deliver that something to a someone (he put it much better than I just did).

We all have a friend who is super creative and has great ideas, but always waits and waits to make those creations perfect.

That friend constantly misses deadlines or pushes back meetings because their ideas are never quite perfect enough.

They are afraid to ship.

Steve Jobs was super creative but was ultra successful because he was not afraid to ship.

He could have worked non-stop on his Apple products, always trying to make them perfect, but that would do him no good unless he produced something that would eventually be delivered to users.

French writer Voltaire summed up this idea when he said, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”

If you spend all your time trying to be perfect, you will never be successful because no one will ever see it.

Author Jon Acuff puts it another way when he says, “90 percent of perfect and shared with the world always changes more lives than 100 percent perfect and stuck in your head.”

As I said in my first post of this year, the theme of the 2014 New Year’s eve ball is “the gift of imagination.”

We all can use our gifts of imagination to do some amazing things. But it does no good to keep those ideas stuck in our imagination.

Real artists ship.

Wiffle Ball World Series

When I started this blog, I introduced a segment called Memory Monday. The segment was influenced by author Jon Acuff who says that looking into our past is a good way to reveal what we find important in the present.

I really liked this idea of looking at my past and I thought that the Memory Monday posts would be a great way to learn from the many exciting and heroic things I have done throughout my life.

Turns out that one thing I learned was that my past is often too boring, even for this silly blog (more on that to come).

Due to that realization, I have gotten away from the Memory Monday posts the past few weeks. Memory Monday probably won’t be a weekly segment, but I will be sharing memories from time to time.

In order to share a blast from my past this week, I dug up a story I wrote in 2006 about an event my family participated in called the Wiffle Ball World Series. Since it is a little long, I have decided to break it up into two parts. The second part will come tomorrow, which means we will have our first ever cliffhanger on Blog by Bake. How exciting.

Without further delay, here is my story about the 2005 Wiffle Ball World Series…

Every fall my dad, my two brothers and I play in a wiffle ball tournament.  It’s called the Wiffle Ball World Series.  It isn’t really the World Series, it isn’t even that big of a tournament, but for my family and I, its one of the best weekends of the year.  We have been playing in this same tournament every year since I was nine years old.  And every year was the same thing; a lot of fun, but also a lot of losing.  We were always the youngest team in the tournament and being the youngest meant also being the easiest to beat.  We would play teams with guys two or three times older than us and except for my dad, they were also two or three times better than us.  Most of the teams wouldn’t even take it easy on us.  They seemed to like destroying our confidence by building up their own.  They would hit home run after home run and each time celebrate as if to say “look how great we are, these dorky kids don’t even stand a chance.”

Even though we always lost, the tournament was still fun.  As we got older, we also got better and a little more competitive.  We might actually win a game every now and then.  It was fun to come back every year a little better and to see some of the same teams who once destroyed us now a little fatter and with a little less hair.  So when this year’s World Series rolled around I felt confident.  We were no longer young and easy to beat.  This year was going to be different…hopefully.

This year’s team consisted of my dad, my older brother Matt, my younger brother Chris, my friend Eric and me.  The perfect team.  Each person brought a little to the table.  My dad, although past his prime, can still hang with anyone (as long as it doesn’t require too much running).  He has always been the best player on the team; that is until about game four when he hurts his back or strains a calf muscle.  Matt is a great athlete who is good at hitting homeruns.  He may even have passed up my dad for best player on the team (even though dad will never admit it).  Chris is the youngest on the team, but he is a very strong kid who has been playing since he was five, so he’s no beginner.  Eric had been playing with us for the past two years.  He played well last year, so we decided to keep him on the team.  And then there’s me.  I’m not the greatest, but I would like to think I am on the team because I am good enough and not just because I’m part of the family.  So there it is, the 2005 version of Baker Boys Plus (Eric being the plus).

When we arrived at the park the day of the tournament, the weather was great.  It was a warm sunny day with no sign of rain.  Rain is kryptonite to wiffle ball, so with none in sight I felt like it was going to be a good day.

Our first game was against a team called the Plastic Devils.  They were a team of five seniors in high school who looked like they would be no pushovers.  “Can’t give him anything to hit,” Matt says to me as we watch one of them hit home run after home run as they warmed up.  “This next guy doesn’t look as good,” I reply as a new batter takes his turn.  “Wrong,” Eric says as the new batter hits one over the fence, past the bushes and into the parking lot.

The game begins and the Plastic Devils jump out to a 12-0 lead after their half of the first inning.  I don’t know about the rest of the team, but I am starting to get a little nervous.  We answer right back with 10 runs of our own.  The nervousness goes away as I realize that we can keep up with these guys.  The game goes back and forth and we end up winning 32-31 in what is by far the highest scoring wiffle ball game I have ever played in.

We may have won the game, but it didn’t come without a price.  Matt had woken up that morning not feeling very well and now he was feeling worse.  After the game, he threw up and was now lying in the fetal position.


Be You

Last night I read a great blog post by Seth Godin and thought, “How do I come up with something that brilliant?”

Actually what I really thought was, “My blog is terrible compared to his.”

I began to compare myself to all of the great writers that I read. I looked through all of my future blog topics to come up with a post for today, but I immediately shot them all down because they weren’t “good enough.”

Anything I started to write didn’t to be “Godin quality.”

But then I realized something…

People don’t come to this blog because they want to read Seth Godin.

If reading Seth Godin is what they wanted, they would not need to come here at all. They would go straight to Godin’s blog.

I shouldn’t spend time comparing myself to other authors.

I know that I may never be as funny as Jon Acuff, as insightful as Susan Cain, or as devotional as Max Lucado.

And the best part is…I don’t have to be.

Those writers have been writing for years. I have been writing for days.

It is great to strive to be the same quality of a writer that they are, but it is silly to think that I should be where they are at this very moment.

If Godin is the big leagues of writing, I may be stuck in single A. But that is fine. My career has just begun.

Just because my post isn’t something Godin, Cain or Lucado would write, does not mean I shouldn’t write it.

I just need to be me. And my writing is “good enough.”

Hopefully that same message applies to you too! Just be you.

If you are a singer, don’t compare yourself to Taylor Swift. Her CD is already out. Just be you and sing your song.

If you are a painter, don’t try to be Michelangelo. You will lose that contest every time.  Just be you and create your own Sistine Chapel.

If you are a dad, don’t copy the older dads you see at the park. You don’t need their kids to love you. Just be you and love your own kids.

I may never be the best writer. And you may never be the best singer, painter or dad. But I can be the best me. And you can be the best you.

30 Words or Less

Author Jon Acuff says in his book Start that everyone with a blog should be able to state what their blog is about in 30 words or less.

Acuff reasons that the only way to differentiate yourself in a world with millions of blogs is show clarity. Clarity gives context which is essential to getting people to want to read what you have to say.

This is something that I have struggled with since I started my blog. I have a hard enough time explaining Blog by Bake in 300 words, how am I supposed to do it in 30? How can I describe a blog that talks about sleepwalking one day and cures to choking under pressure the next?

After giving it some thought, here is what I have come up with.

A daily mix of funny and thought provoking posts made to help us look at how we got here, where we are going and give thanks for everything in between.

I know that my explanation will likely change as my blog continues to grow and form, but I feel that it is a pretty good start.

How would you describe Blog by Bake? Give me your best 30 word explanation in the comments section below.

Hunger Games

In his book Quitter, author Jon Acuff writes that whenever we start trying to really figure out what we want to do with our life, we image that we are going to have a miraculous revelation.  We expect to stumble upon some activity we’ve never done before and immediately fall in love.

Acuff argues that this is just not likely.  Instead of an act of discovery, finding our passion is more likely an act of recovery.  According to Acuff, “more often than not, finding out what you love doing most is about recovering an old love…When you come to your dream job, your thing, it is rarely a first encounter.  It’s usually a reunion.”

I had never thought about it that way.  Like many people, I’ve expects a bolt of lightning or some dramatic experience to reveal my calling.  Deep down I knew that it probably wouldn’t happen that way, but I didn’t know where else to look.

I like Acuff’s philosophy that looking into our past is a good way to reveal what we really want to do in the present.  So with that in mind, I would like to introduce you to a new weekly post I am starting called, Memory Mondays.  For this segment I will be revising things that happened in my past.  It will be a good way to revisit some good times and reflect on some more difficult ones.  I thought about calling it Throwback Thursday, but we already have Thankful Thursdays and plus Throwback Thursday is too mainstream for this blog.  So Memory Monday it is.  Isn’t alliteration great??

I know by now you are probably saying, “Adam! Act accordingly and avoid alliteration.”

Today’s Memory Monday comes to us from 2005.  It was a simpler time when the San Antonio Spurs were in the NBA Finals and the nation was awaiting a new superhero movie with Christopher Nolan . As I mentioned before, I briefly had a blog back in 2005. Very few posts were memorable, but here’s one that was…for all the wrong reasons.

August 1, 2005

I have always thought of myself as a competitive person. I enjoy a good contest just as much as the next guy. I have participated in many competitions throughout my life, but none as intense as the one I endured yesterday. Let’s just say it was a mouthful (haha, you will get it in a minute).

The competition I was a part of yesterday was a competitive eating contest. The day before, I had watched the US Open of competitive eating and became intrigued. Before I get to my contest I will first give a quick summary of the Open. There were a couple of different races (I guess that’s what you call it) with a skinny Asian guy and a skinny Asian lady competing for the title (I guess that’s what you call it) in every category.

The Open was great, not only could I watch people eat unhealthy amounts of food, I could also hear a wonderful breakdown of what was going on. They had grade A commentators. They not only pointed out what the people were eating, they helped explained the true strategy behind it all. One memorable quote used to describe the eating was something like “look at the power.” Power indeed. Not just anyone can shovel salad into their mouth, it takes a very powerful individual.

After watching the Open, I knew that I had been raised playing the wrong sports. If I had only known about competitive eating at an earlier age, I could have focused on that instead of wasting my time on other sports that would get me nowhere in life.

Although I had yet to eat anything competitively, I had been eating for over 19 years and I figured that was better than nothing. Was it too late to start training to become the best?? There was only one was to find out.

So I decided to have a contest against another promising amateur to see if I had a future in the sport. My opponent…none other than Christopher Baker. He’s quite the little eater, but I had the experience edge. He has only been eating for a little over 15 years. I thought it would be tough, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

So the table was set (haha). The plates consisted of 2 hamburgers, 10 chicken nuggets, and 2 soft pretzels. The first to finish wins. So we were off…my strategy was to go from pretzels to nuggets to hamburgers. I don’t know what Christopher’s plan was because I was too focused on winning.

About halfway through the plate, I began to feel it. Was it the feeling of victory??? No, not at all. It was the feeling of stomach ache. I wanted to stop. The pain was just too much, but I fought it. I had always been taught to “Go Hard or Go Home” and since I was already at home I knew that I only had one other option.

After about 10 minutes, the dust had settled and I had won. By a whole hamburger. Was I that good, or was Chris just way smarter than me and had given up? We may never know. But what I do know, is that my competitive eating days are over. I will retire on top. Undefeated. I want to retire 1 and 0. Mostly because I am afraid I might die if I try it again. From now on, I will stick to eating for survival only. But the contest taught me many things that I would forget. Most importantly…I’m an Idiot.

What Makes Me Qualified To Be A Writer?

Eight years ago I started a blog.  Blogs were fairly new so I said “what the heck, I could probably create a popular blog.”  Like many people out there, I was really into in for the first week but eventually went months went by and I didn’t make any updates and finally the blog dissolved in less than a year.

In order prevent the same thing from happening again, I asked myself “what makes me qualified to be a writer?” In typical pessimistic fashion, I ended up answering the question of “what makes me unqualified to be a writer.”

In the book Start, author Jon Acuff talks about our voices of fear that tell us we can’t do certain things.  Acuff encourages his readers to write down their voices of fear because acknowledging them can make them shrink and not seem as imposing.

So I’ve decided to write down the three main voices of fear that kept creeping into my head anytime I asked “what makes me qualified to be a writer?”

Voices of fear:

  • I am not a grate speller and my vocabulary is limited
  • I never come up with clever and witty sayings, such as “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” – Mark Twain
  • There are too many better writers out there.

Once I saw the voices of fear on paper, I knew exactly how I could refute each one:

  • I am not a grate speller and my vocabulary is limited. Computers have this new great thing called spell check and there are numerous word of the day apps that can increase my lexicon.
  • I never come up with clever and witty sayings, such as “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” – Mark Twain  Every time I write my mom a Mother’s Day poem, she puts it on the fridge.
  • There are too many better writers out there.  If The Situation can do it, so can I.

What voices of fear do you constantly hear in your life? Put them down on paper or write them in the comments section below and it will help you see that they are really not that imposing after all.