This here is my 600th post.
In November 2005 on the inspiration of my colleague Allister Frost, I started on this curious topic of Embracing Failure. In the ensuing years, I have added the topics of ‘Leadership and Management’, ‘Dream Bubbles’, ’70-20-10 Rule’, ‘Dynamic Work’ and the ‘Maldives’ to my portfolio of explorations. And in my new role at Piero, I’ve started a blog there.
In fact, this is a bit of a blogging milestone week for me. Just a few days ago, I posted by 200th blog on Maldives Complete, and yesterday was my 300th post on my WordPress collection (Failure, Leadership and Management primarily).
Outside of the technology mavens and social media pundits with whom I occasionally mix, one of the most common questions I get asked is “Why do I (keep) blogging?”
Iterative Improvement – Political commentator Andrew Sullivan devoted an entire post to this question – “Why I Blog”. While he is talking about more timely ‘news’ oriented blogging, many of his reflections mirror my own perspectives especially the ones that evoke a sense of embracing failure…
“No columnist or reporter or novelist will have his minute shifts or constant small contradictions exposed as mercilessly as a blogger’s are…Blogging is therefore to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud… The form was more accountable, not less, because there is nothing more conducive to professionalism than being publicly humiliated for sloppiness. Of course, a blogger could ignore an error or simply refuse to acknowledge mistakes. But if he persisted, he would be razzed by competitors and assailed by commenters and abandoned by readers. In an era when the traditional media found itself beset by scandals as disparate as Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair, and Dan Rather, bloggers survived the first assault on their worth. In time, in fact, the high standards expected of well-trafficked bloggers spilled over into greater accountability, transparency, and punctiliousness among the media powers that were. Even New York Times columnists were forced to admit when they had been wrong.”
I do value the incompleteness and imperfection of writing in the blog format. I might not have the whole topic figured out, but I might have a clue on some little piece of it. Better to share that little piece than withhold all reflection until a coherent and polished whole is formed (which might be never). It’s like a highly geared vehicle of writing a book in lots of little, manageable pieces.
Serendipity – One of my other favourite bloggers, Scott Adams, paints another justification as a part of his recipe for happiness – the serendipity of upside…
“I make it a habit to have at least one project brewing at all times that has a non-zero chance of changing the planet, or making a billion dollars, or both. Creating Dilbert was just one out of several dozen projects of that nature. As I write this, I have plans for Dilbert.com that would uncap its potential while helping a number of other people at the same time. That’s a good feeling to wake up to. I’ve also contracted with an Indian company to turn one of my ideas into a website prototype that could change the nature of advertising. Or not. Probably not. The point is that it feels good to know it’s there. When that project doesn’t work, I’ll put another dream into the slot. (I don’t put much time or money into the long shots.)”
My blogs are also my ‘non-zero chance’ of upside to others or myself. I have now gotten countless emails from people around the world (isn’t that cool?) thanking me for a useful piece or piece of information. I have made new acquaintances, contacts (maybe useful someday?), and even friends. These connections have invited me to dinners, events and visits which were in many cases real treats. I don’t harbour any fantasies about becoming commercial or adapting my material to a best selling book. But I do savour the periodic occasions where my writing introduces me to new people, new fans, new supporters, new networks. Perhaps the most enjoyable have been the invitations to speak, to attend events, to write guest pieces and to visit people who took interest in my work.
Purge and Process – A complicated or intriguing idea rattling around in my head can be as annoying and distracting as the unfinished errand that you keep reminding yourself to do. Writing down these ideas and thoughts gets them out of my head so that I can free up grey matter cycles for more things. Chatting over coffee or a beer, writing letters or a journal, or blogging all serve this purpose of a taking nebulous but distractingly pressing thoughts and bringing them out of the cerebral world and into the living world.
Handy Reference Trove – A number of times, I will happen upon a conversation, online or offline, that touches precisely on a topic I have explored with some consideration earlier. Rather than taking up time to re-draft and share those thoughts again, I can often follow up and response with a simple link to my earlier piece. Often I will add a few bits relevant to the specific conversation or to provide an update. But the process is a lot less work than writing an entire well thought out response from scratch.