It's Saturday night and I just got back from the park with my dog. It's become a ritual this summer, walking my dog at the park on Saturday nights and listening to the free bluegrass concerts. The band tonight had one of the very best mandolin players I've ever heard. (Keeping in mind I used to play mandolin in a bluegrass band way way back when, I know a good one when I hear one!) The guitar player was also very good, as was the fiddle player. Individually, they were some of the best musicians I've heard in a long time. However, they just weren't connecting with their audience.
The people who attend these concerts are die-hard bluegrass fans. They don't mind a little country gospel mixed in once in awhile, but they want their bluegrass clean and traditional. These guys were into jazz....they jazzed up one Doc Watson tune so much I couldn't even recognize it. Great musicians, but they were either just in the wrong venue, or didn't know how to read the audience to figure out what they wanted to listen to. One by one, people got up and walked back to their cars until there was just a handful of people left.
As a writer, and someone who has taught writing, this is a key theme in helping people turn into great communicators. You've got to connect with your audience. I learned this early in my writing career. I had just finished up my Ph.D., where you have to write very academically, citing everything, and sounding as erudite as possible. When I first wanted to share my Ph.D. research with the homeschooling community, I wrote a big ol' book called something like "Educational Philosophy and the Home Schooling Movement". You all remember that one, don't you? Huge success.
After a bit, though, I re-grouped, started thinking like a homeschooling mom again, and turned it into my Countdown to Consistency workshop, and actually eventually sold out of that big old first printing. Later, I wrote a very simple book, called "The Relaxed Home School", and the rest, as they say, is history. But I didn't do well at all until I figured out who my audience was and starting thinking like they did.
That's what this blog is all about...I suddenly had one of those epiphanies where I realized I wasn't connecting with an entire generation of new, younger homeschooling moms, the ones that were raised in an electronic generation. It isn't easy to start new things when you're a little older, or remain flexible and open to new ideas, but I realized that if I wasn't willing to try something new, the only homeschoolers I'd be connecting with would be "ex" ones....
So whatever you're doing, be sure you're connecting. Even if it just trying to see life from the standpoint of a teenager, or a mother-in-law, or a husband who doesn't support your homeschooling ideas, you won't get anywhere if you don't stop for a minute and try walking in that person's shoes.
Okay, time for bed now...I've had a busy day, digging up tulip bulbs to try to trick them into thinking we live in Wisconsin or Michigan. Hope you all are coping with the heat wave!