So why am I going full speed ahead into year 15? People continue to be surprised that I don’t make a penny out of Maldives Complete…it is one big, expensive hobby for all intents and purposes. That might sound dismissive, but Seth Godin thankfully has a more eloquent perspective on it:
- “Some people say “hobby” like it’s a bad thing. In a race for more, it seems as though doing something you don’t get paid for, something that requires patience and skill–well, some people don’t get it…A generation or two ago, hobbies were things like paint by number or candlemaking, or perhaps a woodshop. That’s changing. Not simply because computers allow us to be far more professional, but because the very nature of the output is different. This might be the golden age for a new kind of hobby, one that’s about community, leadership and producing public goods, not private ones. Because it’s so much easier to connect and because ideas multiply, the generative hobby gives us a chance to make a contribution, even (especially) when we’re not at work. Sharing ideas, leading, connecting. Perhaps “generative contribution” is a better name for it.”
Other examples of such hobbies are Wikipedia and Github. in fact, I’ve often thought of Maldives Complete as an interactive Resortipedia for the Maldives. Even the blog posts are mostly constructed to be used as referenceable info as opposed to timely broadcasts.
“Why do I do it” remains the second most frequently asked question about Maldives Complete. When people, especially in industry, discover the site you can see their minds whirring looking for the hitch and trying to figure out where I get my return. As I have discussed numerous times, the site is one big expensive hobby whose many dividends are non-monetary. One I wanted to write about today was the dividend of ‘writing’ itself. And not surprisingly, some of the best articulation come from one of my favourite writers, Seth Godin:
- “And a huge advantage of having a daily blog is that the software is always open, waiting for you to write something. Your story doesn’t have to be a book, it is simply your chance to make a difference.” – “A Place to Write”
- “Even if no one but you reads it. The blog you write each day is the blog you need the most. It’s a compass and a mirror, a chance to put a stake in the ground and refine your thoughts.” – “The most important blog post”
Finally, I came across this inspired passage from Huit Denim’s company newsletter (thanks Steve) which reflected similar dividends from the process of writing (I especially like the “gym for your mind”).
Writing is thinking.
Writing is a gymnasium for ideas.
Write to learn how to make a good talk great.
Write to learn how to make the complex simple.
Write to learn how to convey a big idea in the fewest words.
Write to learn how to separate the important details of your argument from the noise.
Clear thinking is a genuine superpower.
And here is the best thing, with practice, you get better at it.
The keyboard is a gym for your mind.
- “Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens.”— Ray Bradbury
A dozen years of researching and writing about the Maldives here and still the second most common question I get is “Why do you do it?” I make no money (no ads, no sponsorship, no selling). In fact, the whole venture costs me more than several trips to the Maldives for fun with the hosting and other expenses of keeping the site maintained. It is an expensive hobby. But one that comes with more dividends than just digital escapism (from the often dank climes of the British Isles) and fan boy entertainment. I especially appreciate the comment by Bradbury of “see what happens” as the whole Maldives Complete odyssey has been packed with serendipity and the adventure of otherwise unlikely opportunities and interactions arising. And finally, The whole experience of exploring, delving and processing is one which exercises my curiosity, creativity and critical thinking:
- “We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.” – E. O. Wilson
World Meditation Day today. And as usual, I will be meditating on thoughts of the Maldives. Until lockdown and travel restrictions, such ruminations might be the only way to transport myself back to this paradise.
In fact, the daily practice of working on and refining Maldives Complete is form of this “meditation” according to Maia Gambis’ “Why making art is the new meditation”:
- “Creating art is a type of meditation, an active training of the mind that increase awareness and emphasizes acceptance of feelings and thoughts without judgment and relaxation of body and mind… Creativity is its own language and enables humans to connect with one another — and themselves — on a non-verbal level.”
I would say that goes for virtually any creative act. You get so immersed that you look up and hours have flown by. Exploring pictures and stories, assembling them together digitally to portray glimpses of this mystical destination is my art form.
Eleven years and going strong. Still the second most frequently asked question I get is “Why do you do it?” (or you could say, “Why do I KEEP doing it?” It’s a big expense with no income. Well, George Orwell penned a piece “Why I Write” (thanks Isley) which highlighted a number of points which I think do apply to my 2000+ post (and going) writing…
- Sheer egoism – Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all — and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, wilful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.
- Aesthetic enthusiasm – Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed. The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.
- Historical impulse – Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.
“And whatever you spend in good, it will be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged.” (Quran 2:272)
Most every anniversary of the website, I do another instalment of the “Why Do I Do It” (the second most frequently asked question I get) series. Once again, Seth Godin has captured another dimension to this expensive hobby which contributes to my daily drive to uncover the latest information and draft up hopefully helpful perspectives…
- “Is there something you do every day that builds an asset for you? Every single day? Something that creates another bit of intellectual property that belongs to you? Something that makes an asset you own more valuable? Something that you learn? Every single day is a lot of days. It’s easy to look at the long run and lull yourself into skipping a day now and then. But the long run is made up of short runs.” – Seth Godin “The Daily”
Maldives Complete is my daily dose of sunshine, my periodic prescription of paradise.
Happy Birthday to Seth Godin. Seth is of my inspirations to the wide range of blogging that I do, the most prominent of which is Maldives Complete here. These days you can’t swing a palm frond without hitting a blogger (especially in the Maldives), but when I started in 2009, the whole medium was quite novel. Seth was one of the first to embrace and extoll the platform and provided lots of tip and insights both explicitly and through example of his own work.
- “This is post 7,000” – “The secret to writing a daily blog is to write every day. And to queue it up and blog it. There is no other secret…The discipline of sharing something daily is priceless. Sometimes there are typos. I hope that they’re rare and I try to fix them. Over time, the blog adds up. People remember a blog post a year after I wrote it. Or they begin a practice, take an action, make a connection, something that grows over time. The blog resonates with people in so many fields, it’s thrilling to see how it can provoke positive action. It’s true that I’d write this blog even if no one read it, but I want to thank you for reading it, for being here day after day. It’s more fun that way.”
- “Susdat” – “Writer’s block is a myth, a recent invention, a cultural malady. More important than the output, though, is the act itself. The act of doing it every day. When you commit to a practice, you will certainly have days when you don’t feel like it, when you believe it’s not your best work, when the muse deserts you. But, when you keep your commitment, the muse returns. When you keep your commitment, the work happens. It doesn’t matter if anyone reads it, buys it, sponsors it or shares it. It matters that you show up. Show up, sit down and type.”
- “Gaztelugatxe” – “There’s an island off the coast of Spain that houses a church. The church has 230 steps to the top, and it’s said that it’s worth the climb. What a great expression. Gaztelugatxe can now mean, ‘it’s a lot of steps, but worth it.’ The opposite of fast and easy but worthless.”
The first two posts referenced above talk about ‘daily practice’ and while I may not post every day, I would say that I do something on Maldives Complete every day – respond to emails, update date, investigate leads, research pieces, etc. His thoughts help to express the answer to the 2nd most frequently asked question that I get (the first being “What is the best resort”), and that is “Why do you do Maldives Complete?”.
If you work at something fun, then you will never have to work. That is part of the spirit of why I do Maldives Complete (still the second most frequently asked question about the website). I value keeping my creative edge sharp in much the same way that I enjoy keeping my physical fitness up. The problem is that tedious gym sessions can be a painful and boring way to workout. Which is why I enjoy activities like ballroom and Latin dancing, basketball, and rowing all of which provide an engaging and enjoyable way to keep the conditioning strong. Similarly, my hobby of Maldives Complete pays considerable dividends in my professional life. Here a few pieces of advice which resonate with me and illustrate this concept of life-long exercise of the creativity muscle…
- “Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.” – Kurt Vonnegut
- “Employees who did something creative after work – like knitting, drawing or even playing a video game that required creative thinking – were more likely to be helpful and creative problem solvers on the job, according to new research from San Francisco State University.” – CNN
- “#5 – Make Writing a Practice – A common first mistake is thinking you’re not a writer. That it’s a domain reserved solely for people with ‘creative’ in their title. Nonsense. If your job depends on articulating ideas, you need to write. Not to mention, you need to write with clarity, with simplicity and, at times, unfettered imagination.” – Doug Kleeman, “20 Ways to Become A Better Strategist”
One of my most frequent FAQs is “why do I do it??” (why put so much time into researching and update the Maldives Complete website). I often respond to people that “Maldives Complete” is my hobby. To which they respond, “Sounds like an expensive hobby.” My response to that comment is usually, “Well, most hobbies are expensive…travel, golf, cars, etc.” Maybe not knitting and jigsaw puzzles. But I came upon a drawing by my friend Hugh MacLeod (above) and I think he captured the sentiment even better. Simply put, immersing myself in paradise 365 days a year makes me happy. J
Today is Train Day today celebrated by people whose hobbies are trainspotting and train sets. My Maldives hobby is a bit like both of those. Like trainspotting, I get a big thrill to find a unique feature I didn’t know about, a missing resort picture or piece of information, or (recently) spotting a fashionable celebrity photo. And the website itself is like my own little train set that I am constantly tinkering, tweaking, adding, perfecting.
It’s also a different type of “training” altogether. I actually first started the site as a sandbox to play with, experiement with and learn new Internet technologies. As the digital world has progressed, Maldives Complete has been the locomotive steaming me through the landscape of new interactivity (eg. porting Silverlight to HTML5), social media (blogging, migrating to WordPress, engaging with Instagram).
Thomas the Tank Engine: You’re a really helpful engine.
Lady: And helping each other, brings to life the magic in all of us.
[In “Thomas the Magic Railroad”, the conductors finally get their supply of magic gold dust]
“Curiosity, in fact, turns out to be a quiet superpower that all of us have.”
So just why do I keep going. Still, the second most frequently asked question I get after 7 years. Another reason to add to the list of motivations – curiosity. Curious about what’s new, how different resorts are positioning themselves, how the destination is evolving, what I shouldn’t miss on my next visit.
It turns out that there are a number of different types of curiosity as Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman describe in their article “Six Kinds of Curiosity – And How You Can Use Them to Change Your Life” (thanks Steve)
- Curiosity is the key to understanding people’s personalities and motivations.
- Curiosity is a vital storytelling tool—and storytelling is the best way to engage and persuade other people, in your work life and your personal life.
- Curiosity is a fantastic source of courage.
- Curiosity is the best, most under-used management tool—a great way to create engagement in your fellow works, but also a great way to transmit values and priorities.
- Curiosity is the spark for creativity and innovation, the best long-term investment you can make.
- Curiosity is the best way to stay connected to those who are most important to you.
I hope Maldives Complete continues to inspire and feed your curiosity about this corner of paradise on the planet for years to come.
“How sad that anyone reaches a point in life where they lose the gift of curiosity and stop learning. That is the day they stop growing and begin dying in the world” – Rev. Patrick O’Neill.