The leadership question we are tackling today is “Should I put myself out there?”
This post is for leaders that have an new career or business opportunity, but are not quite sure if they want to try it. Your answer will be different than mine, but I can only reflect on my experience.
It has been two years since I have posted a public blog and a lot has occurred. My last post, “Does the Queen of England Eat Tacos” had 15,000 views on Linkedin. It was my most widely read post after about a two years of trying to get traction. Quite frankly it scared me to death. I was the “dog that caught the car”…meaning I was not sure quite what to do. I felt like I suddenly got a part on Broadway and the reviews all flooded in at once. I received a great deal of positive and constructive feedback from that post. After a bit of time has passed, I now have time to reflect about the things I learned.
- Everything you have to say is stupid to somebody. That is perfectly OK. When I first started writing the blog, I know that I had these things I wanted to say but I was very reluctant to present them to the world. What if they are stupid? I kept hearing the voice in my head say, “No one cares about your blog”. I still hear that voice and I think that to some degree it is widely true, but I realized that I care about it and that is what matters. If at least one person thinks that what you have to say is silly, then chances are just as good that one person will think that what you have to say is helpful. That seems worth it to me.
- It is easy to be known, it is hard for someone to know you. It is one thing for someone to look up your profile online or see you at a cocktail party and shake your hand. It is another thing altogether to allow someone to read your thoughts. When you blog, you expose who you are to the world and you have to be OK with the fact that some people will think what “you” are is not good enough. I keep the loop pretty small in my life, so this exercise is good for me. It is a stress test for my personal beliefs that I think I need. It is one thing to really believe something in your head. It is quite another thing to put it on paper and defend it.
- You don’t know what you don’t know. I quickly learned about moderating comments. (My apologies to all my friends in the United Kingdom for not articulating the queens full title.) That one was a sore spot. I didn’t know. But many people excused what I did not know, read the message and got something out of it anyway.
- You don’t have to be an expert to go try something new. I learned that even thought I don’t know what I am doing most of the time, it is still OK to try. There is only so much reading, planning and thinking you can do. Sometimes you just have to take action. Knowledge is not stuff you read or memorize. Knowledge is only earned when you go try something, someone gives you feedback about it and you do differently next time.
- Trying something new is the catalyst for opportunity. I learned that it was time to spread my wings and that the world was bigger than I originally thought. I made a career shift. It all happened very quickly. What I am doing here has no relationship with my professional life. This is an insane hobby. I am picking this back up because I see the need out there. People like to learn out loud together and this format is uniquely suited for small incremental conversations that help people grow.
Back to the question. “Should I put myself out there?” I did. Am I glad I did? Yes. Even though some people will think what you have say is stupid. Even though you have to let people know what you really believe rather than just being another person they know. Even though you will make mistakes that people don’t like. Even though you will stumble through learning things the hard way. It is worth it in my view. You will continue to have what you have got if you keep doing what you are doing.
You will be hearing from me on a frequent basis. I have lots of plans. You will see the branding change from “Blood Thirsty Monkeys” to “Short Attention Span Leadership”. I am working on a podcast, a fresh batch of blog posts and a few additional surprises. I am also entertaining public speaking gigs as they are available. It is great to be back in the conversation with so many in the leadership community. Thank you for supporting me and for reading!