I started this blog in 2007--almost 9 years ago.
When I began, it was a place that I used for reflective practice, for what John Stepper calls Working Out Loud. I LOVED those days. I had to control myself from posting to my blog several times a day because I was overflowing with so many ideas and possibilities and my blog posts practically wrote themselves.
I read books and articles and wrote about how they were impacting my thinking. I shared ideas, responded to other bloggers, allowed myself to be passionate and excited and to follow what I loved and what interested me, even if it it didn't seem to have immediate application to my work or "make sense" to people who might be reading what I wrote.
I did things like the 31 Day Blogging Challenge and the 31 Day Comment Challenge, projects that helped me develop my skills, but more importantly, they helped me to connect to a broader worldwide community of practice.
Through these kinds of projects and through my own reflective approach to blogging, I met and worked with people from all over the world--people who challenged my thinking, who brought me new ideas, who shared their experiences and struggles and who helped create a sense of community.
We would read each other's posts, comment on each other's blogs, and engage in deep, thoughtful conversations that helped us grow both personally and professionally.
Then something happened. Part of it was the rise of other platforms like Facebook and Twitter that favor short form, pithy thinking and approaches to problems. Some of the people I engaged with in the early days found ways to incorporate these strategies into their overall process, but for whatever reason, I wasn't able to do that as easily.
At key points I found that I needed to take long breaks from being online and in taking those breaks, I fell out of the communities that I'd been so connected to in the earlier days. It's hard (if not impossible) to come back in when you've been away for awhile, so that definitely has had an impact.
But the other thing I'm realizing is deeper, more insidious--something that I need to address head on.
This morning I was reading Austin Kleon's Show Your Work: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered. Number 7 on the list is "Don't Become Human Spam" and oh, Dear God, did that one hit home.
I have become Human Spam.
I am no longer the host nor the beginner, nor the person who is working out loud. I no longer ask big questions or engage with the messiness of the work that I do in a public space. I do these things in private--with a select group of people and in my journals--but I don't do them here because I've wanted to be "helpful" and to somehow be more "focused" and "relevant."
I've been afraid of how people might be confused by the many types of things that I do and the many areas of interest that I have. I've been focused on finding and packaging "my brand" to make myself more comprehensible and digestible rather than on just being who and what I am and letting the chips fall where they may.
I've been afraid that posts will be too long--that if I give you the "Why" and the "how" of my thinking, you'll tune out. (Many of you will, but so what? That's life)
I've thought that my "value" comes from giving you 5 ideas for things you can do to help your career in 5 minutes, knowing in my heart that you are NOT going to be able to have a healthy thriving career when you only give it 5 minutes a day. But people want short posts and listicles, so that's what I should give you.
I've been afraid to talk about how worried I am for all of us, of how I think that the structures and spaces we are living in at work and in life are sucking us dry. I do "career development" work, but there's a HUGE part of me that believes that all of our focus on work is in fact the big problem. If we aren't "productive, contributing members of society" then the message we receive from our culture is that we have no value. And I'm afraid that in doing career work, I end up contributing to that.
So all of my fears have turned me into someone I don't recognize. I'm not bringing my "best self" to my work anymore, partly because I'm no longer working out loud.
It's killing me. It's killing the quality of my work.
I have become Human Spam. And I apologize to you for that.
I need to switch things up around here. I'm not totally sure what that looks like, but I'm sure that it will be revealed to me as I apply the Vampire Test to my posts.
If it gives energy and life--if it feels juicy and meaningful, I will write about it.
If it feels dead, if it feels like 50 other people could have written it (and that they probably have), I won't write about it.
Expect less "finished product" around here and more "work in progress." Expect me to talk about things other than how you can have a good career plan because honestly, I care about WAY more than what it takes to have a thriving career. You are more than your job. Work can give a sense of purpose, but so can volunteering, art, parenting, and a whole host of other things.
There will be fewer posts that link back into my old stuff and more posts that link out to ideas and people who get me thinking. Some of them will have to do with careers, but others won't. I learn from artists, from writers and poets, from designers and strategists. It's all grist for the mill and I do my best work when I share that.
I want to be less hero and more host. Fewer answers and more questions. Less presentation, more conversation.
If you're looking for my "brand"--it's learning from everything I can about how we can be loving, thriving, vibrant people who create loving, thriving vibrant lives and communities for ourselves. Some of these communities are at work and through work. Some aren't. I plan to be open to that.
If that turns you on, I hope you keep reading. If it doesn't, that's cool too. Either way, I have to follow my heart in this. I have to stop being Human Spam.