[I was honored to be asked to speak at a seminar my company conducted this past week titled “Developing Yourself Through Social Media within the Workplace”. I spoke for a few minutes on finding your voice and being authentic. If you’re joining me recently here at Chez TMPinSYR, this also serves as a nice introduction to my pursuit of a dream here on my blog. Enjoy!]
Who are you and what do you want to say?
You don’t need to have the answers to both of those questions when you start writing. I think that a lot of great art is an external process that reveals the artist. I certainly didn’t have those answers when I started writing. But if you DON’T have those answers then you need to at least be using the process of writing to reveal the essential elements of your character.
My blog – my external blog – started 3 years ago this month as an exercise for my creative side that was separate from my day job in the insurance industry. For me, writing has been a lifelong passion but one which I was so afraid of failing at that I was too afraid to even try it. For too many years I let that fear of failing at something important to me stop me from ever taking a chance.
At the same time, I was surrounded by creative people in my life. My wife is a very talented performer. My youngest brother, who had worked right next to me for a few months had long since gone to pursue his passion for creativity and performance. Aubry, Joey, other dear friends- truly, my world was filled with creative people – and I resented each one of them for their expressed creativity.
So three years ago, shortly before I turned 41, I decided that I had had enough of this fear. I was going to start writing, being real, and putting my work out for all to see. I would put my work out in plain view, unafraid. I expected to write, suck at it, work harder, suck a little bit less, and repeat. And I had to do it in front of anyone that cared to look. (OK, this is starting to sound a bit dirty…)
I’ve struggled with the pursuit of perfection all my life. It’s a fine line. The pursuit of excellence? Absolutely. I just wrote about that! (Shameless plug!) But the pursuit of perfection? If you can set your goal at perfection and live with imperfection – our human condition – then I salute you. But for me it was too many years setting a goal that I’d never achieve. My world view contained no opportunity for growth or development. My – ridiculous! – perspective was that on my first time at bat I would knock it out of the park OR… I would fail miserably and pack it in.
It’s ridiculous, right? Ironically, I’d seen my boys – now ages 16, 8, and 6 – show similar tendencies. And while I was too afraid to put the first word to paper I was trying to teach them that it was only through work, failure, and growth, that they would ever master anything. Believe me – the irony is very clear looking back at it.
So now, I write. I write about things that interest me or things that I want to say. Along the way, I’ve seen my writing – the mechanical craft – improve. More importantly, I’ve found my voice as a writer and a speaker. Whether I’m writing about the Goon and OUR pink sneakers, the essentials of effective leadership, or who in the Marvel Universe Ultron is and why you’re going to care about him in a couple of months – I am writing authentically and unafraid. And along the way, I’ve found that the pursuit of excellence is so much more satisfying than the pursuit of perfection ever was.
Social media, for me, is a tool. The toolbox has never been as full as it is today. What is your passion? How do you intend to express who you are? Social media is just the tool. Commit yourself to being real and pick up the tool.
Be authentic. Know who you are and what you want to say – or at least pursue the answers to those questions. Be unafraid. Pursue excellence. And you just may be surprised at the wonderful things that can happen along the way!
I’ve got some broad categories listed on the left hand side of the page. If you poke around at the posts in the “Open Notebook” category you can take a peek inside my journey to free myself from the Fear of Failure.
Good luck. Excelsior!
Selected Readings here at TMPinSYR
Why do I wear these Pink Sneakers?
The pursuit of excellence? What is that all about?
Who is that Ultron dude?
So… freeing myself from the fear of failure, you said?