February 18, 2010

It’s not what you can’t write, it’s what you need to share

February 18, 2010 - Categories: blogging, reflection
This entry is part 7 of 19 in the series A No-Excuses Guide to Blogging

We like scaring ourselves out of complex opportunities. Take sharing, for example. Sharing too much online can backfire badly, so many people don’t. College graduates worry about drunken parties and griping about jobs. CEOs worry about disclosure and giving away competitive advantages.

We like scaring other people, too. It’s because we worry that they’re not smart enough to avoid mistakes, or that they can’t deal with growing pains. News articles warn people about the workplace consequences of personal blog posts. TV shows rant about Facebook and Twitter.

The infinite memories of search engines and Internet archives scare most people into silence.

People fear loss more than they get excited about gains.  This can screw up your decision-making.

Whenever I talk about sharing, people often bring up that fear. It’s a valid concern, but it’s the wrong focus.

The real challenge isn’t dancing around what you can’t write. The real challenge is figuring out what you need to share.

What can you share that can save other people time?

What can you ask that will open up new perspectives for other people?

What can you express that will let other people recognize themselves in it?

You don’t have to come up with something universally and timelessly insightful. Just share one thing that one person may not know. Just share one thing that you didn’t know a year ago.

Sometimes it’s the littlest thing that solves someone else’s problems or sparks someone else’s epiphany. Sometimes that someone is you, six months down the line.

It’s not about what you can’t write. It’s about what you can. As you explore that, you’ll discover your passion—what you need to share.

When you’re focused on the negative spaces – all the embarrassing things that you don’t want others to know – it’s hard to see the good stuff. When you’re focused on the good stuff, you’ll be too busy sharing to worry about the bad stuff.

It’s very hard to share the wrong thing when you’re focused on making people’s lives better. And if you happen to do so, well, that’s part of the learning experience. Sometimes it’s the other person’s ruffled ego. Sometimes it’s you, unconsciously blaming others, or stepping over a line you hadn’t realized. The conflict helps you understand more.

When someone challenges what you’ve shared, you can think about it more. Sometimes you’ll change your mind. Sometimes your thoughts will become even clearer.

Changing your mind is good, too. You’re human. Change is a sign of growth.

So don’t worry so much about being embarrassed. Focus instead on finding out what you can share with others. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. You’ll see the benefits at work and in life.

Focus on the good stuff, and share as much as you can.

Thanks to Devon Jordan for the nudge to write about this!