2010 Renegade Review: A (Very) Detailed & Mindful Look Back

(This is a comprehensive review of my 2010. Read the first installment here.)

The warm salty winds that raced to shore atop white-capped waves but months ago have since frozen over.

The gale bites now, spiting exposed skin that in turn curses the relentless breeze.

To gaze upon the bobbing loons, though, they hardly seem to feel the difference. The wind is the wind all the same. I count forty-six and perhaps three more in the distance.

A hint of cool salt garnishes the air; these cleansing winds. They know not the past, they think not of the ‘morrow, they race across barren sand and rock to rebirth those lost in time…

January to February 2010: The Quiet Leader

The year 2010 began for me quite similarly to how 2009 ended: with a dream loosely baited upon the end of a make-shift fishing rod. Dangling by worn strands of string fixed to a bent branch, the primary goal of my life was to finally distribute my year-in-the-making nonfiction book proposal for THE QUIET LEADER to upwards of 200 literary agents across the United States, sign with an agency, and leverage a book contract and write my first book.

I was teaching myself how to fish: I read damn near every bit of advice on the process; kept up on news on the state of the publishing and literary industries; researched hundreds of literary agents across the country; spent over 14 months writing an incredibly rich book proposal; attracted media attention; was building my websites’ readership; and so on. In early 2010, as through most of 2009, I was teaching myself how to fish. I know how to fish now.

You can teach a man to fish, but the fish don’t always bite — whether by chance, by poor luck, or with good reason.

Of the nearly 200 query letters I sent to my list of targeted literary agents, I received less than 5 of genuine interest in my alternative leadership project. Two agents offered really invaluable thoughts, feedback and advice. By the end of February, I was beginning to think that THE QUIET LEADER, rather than be the first project that kicked off my writing career, might actually be my life-long mission — a work that would take a seeming eternity to complete, but only because it would need that much time and experience to become what it has the potential to become and truly ought to be.

Rather than continuing to fish, I reeled in my bait and placed THE QUIET LEADER project safely into my back pocket.

March 2010: Realignment

With THE QUIET LEADER temporarily shelved, if only in my mind, I decided that more effort and energy ought to be concentrated into DaveUrsillo.com. I began by restructuring the blog into specific categories with emphasis on self-improvement and personal development in order to help me and my readers find a greater sense of direction and purpose in visiting the blog. It was within these two umbrella categories that most of my writings would now fall.

This was only a tough decision because altering the categories in my WordPress blog meant physically changing the URLs or permalinks of the majority of my blog posts. I feared that this would lead to a lot of broken URLs and 404 errors on the blog. Thankfully, by integrating “smart 404” pages that offer suggestions to readers about what page they might have been looking for, the errors were minimal.

Slowly but surely, my writing, website, and life were each beginning to find proper direction.

April 2010: Setting Hard Deadlines

With my blog categories’ realignment in March, DaveUrsillo.com was finally beginning to shape up into what it is now today. However, I knew that I needed to post more frequently on these two subjects — Self-Improvement, which I treat like Self-Help, or helping those in need of inspiration get back to a balanced and positive mindset; and Personal Excellence, which raises the bar to new heights and encourages people to maximize their potential and strive for the utmost of ideals.

With this in mind, in April I set “hard” deadlines for myself that would obligate me to write two posts on DaveUrsillo.com per week, ranging 500 to 1500 words per post. I began writing on a schedule of Sunday and Thursday, having since changed that schedule to its current Monday/Thursday format.

The benefits of blogging on a schedule are incredible, in my opinion. Not only do you obligate yourself to write a lot more, which in turn benefits your writing by practicing it regularly; but you also are planting a seed in readers’ and visitors’ that you’re 1) hard at work; 2) determined to achieve your blog’s goals; and 3) that they should come back very soon, because if they don’t they could miss something great.

June 2010 to August 2010: Origins of Renegadeism

Over the summer, DaveUrsillo.com began to take greater shape as the tongue-in-cheek “Renegadeism” mindset developed. Of all the facets of this concept that dreamers today ought to embody a defiant mindset in order to defy cynics and critics, the cornerstones of Renegadeism became:

  • Exploration: The examination and analysis of our unrealized spiritual and intellectual capacities — the unlimited potential that we each individually possess.
  • Awareness: Through introspective exploration, we come to better understand our behaviors, our motivations, our personalities, our relationships, and our lives. In other words, we become “self-aware.”
  • Reliance: We come to rely upon ourselves, our spirits, our intuition every day, rather than feel dependent upon outside forces, people, or things to satisfy our needs, wants and natural abilities.

September 2010 to December 2010

In the final quarter of 2010, my writing accelerated. The overwhelming theme of 2010, as you can see throughout this post, was “Direction.” My writing, blog and life in general lacked direction for a long time (well, a handful of months, so I guess it wasn’t a very long time). But as direction was realized — if only in hindsight — my writing began to greatly benefit. You can see in my “Every Post on DaveUrsillo.com” piece that as the months wore on, I wrote better and more popular pieces on the blog that readers really enjoyed.

Now that I have found much greater Direction, my goals and intended theme for 2011 will be Intent. You’ll learn a lot more about this in the coming days :)

10 Favorite Pieces of 2010

1. 8 Mantras for Accepting Criticism (and Silencing Critics)
2. X’s On The Map: How to Find and Unearth Our Spiritual Gold
3. How to Love Yourself in a World Designed to Foster Self-Hate
4. Strongheart: Harvesting Compassion in the Faces of Strangers
5. Trapped in Your Head? How to Escape Your Mind
6. Let the Dam Break! Holding a Grudge vs. Allowing Forgiveness
7. Embracing the Commonality of Love: Love’s Language
8. 6 Ways to Break Any Cycle of Negativity
9. Four Life Lessons Taught by Nature
10. Fail-Proof Forgiveness: End the Hate and Dead the Past

2010 Renegade Mentors & Inspiration

What drives me? Who inspires me? There are countless sources of inspiration that I’ve come across in 2010, but here are a handful of the most noteworthy that might help you in your life and dreams’ pursuits, as well!

  • The Dalai Lama: In 2010, I wandered into a used book store and came across a book called The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama and Dr. Howard Cutler. Reading it in short clips, this book was incredibly formative in my understanding and appreciation for topics that have become cornerstones to DaveUrsillo.com, Renegadeism, and the way I live my life everyday — especially on compassion and forgiveness.
  • Chris Guillebeau: In 2009, a literary agent told me I reminded her of a young author named “Chris Guillebeau, but 4 or 5 years behind him.” Naturally, I took to looking at Chris as a mentor whose lead I could learn a lot from. You will occasionally see and feel Chris’ “Art of Nonconformity” influence in my writing and throughout 2011 as I launch new products and go on some new travel adventures. I had the pleasure met Chris in Boston in September.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson: I deeply explored Emerson, his life’s story and his writings throughout 2010. It’s safe to say that feel a special connection to Emerson, far beyond any other writer I have come across thus far in my life.
  • Twitter: Twitter is a social network, and an oft misunderstood one. To those deeply immersed in this seemingly odd, mish-mash of 140-character messages to both “everyone and no one,” we understand how potent, empowering and incredible a tool Twitter is to network with a diverse array of men and women across the globe. I found inspiration on Twitter almost every day, learned a litany of new things, and have made genuine friends.
  • Srinivas Rao: Srini is a personal development blogger that I met through Twitter this year. His blogging, entrepreneurial ventures, and life’s story have motivated me greatly over the last six months. Besides that, we’ve stoked up a cool friendship and thanks to him I’m now much more determined to learn to surf.
  • Driving Aimlessly: Sorry Al Gore, but I’ve realized that I stumble upon some of my most creative and inspiring writing ideas while driving aimlessly. I described this revelation in November: “…driving the roads aimlessly, windows down no matter the weather, with music booming… In that rather chaotic environment, my creative side thrives…”. The sheer energy of the vehicle humming, wind whipping, music rocking, somehow come together to tune out the unnecessary and summon the muse within.
  • Jonathan Mead: Jonathan is a more recent contact of mine, who, when I reached out to him in an email-on-a-whim, was incredibly gracious, helpful, and fun to talk to. His writing is ambitious and bold. His website is forthright and direct. I am looking to mimic these qualities. I also had the pleasure of writing a guest blog post for Jonathan’s Illuminated Mind blog a few weeks ago.
  • You, the Reader: There are too many to list by name, but all the readers who have visited DaveUrsillo.com have been a greater inspiration than anything else. Through everyday interaction with readers that has provided me with quality feedback, constructive criticism and more

What’s the most important thing you learned in 2010?

In the never-ending quest to create genuine discussion and community-building among my readers, I asked on Facebook, Twitter and here on DaveUrsillo.com what the most important thing (or things) were that YOU learned in 2010. Here’s what some of the readers said…

“to trust my intuition! :)” ~K.F.,on Facebook

“To keep reaching for the truth. It truly will set you free.” ~R.M.,on Facebook

“that life will fly by if you let. Grab a hold and go for the ride!” ~ S.S., on Facebook

“I learned that, no matter how bad things may seem, I can survive. 2010 was definitely more of a challenge than I’d have liked.” ~S.A., on Twitter

“That I need to stand up for myself and quit letting ppl walk all over me. Backbone growing is still a work in progress.” ~A.S., on Twitter

“that peace lies within” ~A.M., on Twitter

“that the only limitations I have are the ones I put upon myself” ~T.S., on Twitter

“LOVE really is the most important thing!” ~J., on Twitter

So, what’s the most important thing that you learned in 2010? Do you plan to (or have you already!) conducted a “detailed and mindful” look back on your past year?

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