Stop Thinking About Blogging. Just Do It

People often tell me they wish they could have a blog of their own.  I tell them to go for it and then sit back and wait for the litany of excuses they’ll cite for holding back.  Among the most common are:

  • Too many will visit the site – I’ll lose my privacy
  • No one will visit my site – I’ll be a failure
  • Poor spelling – I’ll look stupid
  • Corporate restrictions – I’ll lose my job

If you’re considering blogging, here’s my advice.  Just do it.
Yes, there are risks.  You will make mistakes.  You may not be able to attract and retain the readership you desire.  You may find out that it’s really hard to keep coming up with original content.  But you’ll never know how well you can do it unless you just do it.

There are some precautions you should take before starting.  If privacy is a concern you may be interested to know that WordPress offers customized blog visibility settings here.  Remember though, there are numerous ways to hack any Internet site so always err on the side of caution if your material is sensitive.  Nothing on the Internet is truly private.  Ever. If your writing could harm another individual or is intensely personal and not meant to be widely shared, blogging is not your best vehicle.

If you are contemplating a blog that overlaps with your professional life, ask your organization for a copy of their social media policy.  It should contain helpful guidance.  Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t exist.  Many companies have not yet grappled with this topic.  In that case you may choose to publish a disclaimer stating that views on your site are strictly personal and not endorsed by your employer.  If you do make that statement, make sure you stick to your own opinions and don’t bring those of your employer into the blog.


How Can I Win in This Job?

The most powerful question a candidate can ask of a potential employer is “How can I win in this job?”  Listen carefully to the answer.  If the hiring manager can’t rattle off the top competencies, tell you how results will be measured, and show what supports are in place — the position may bring with it inordinate risk.

It’s not uncommon for organizations to begin a recruitment campaign before fully understanding the needs and success measurements of a given position.  I’m seeing this even more lately.  Here’s one theory on why this may be happening.  Now that the economy is showing signs of recovery companies are demonstrating their growing confidence by granting small headcount increases.  Finally getting the corporate nod to do some hiring after what may seem like an interminable hiring freeze can entice some managers to jump the gun.  It takes patience and forethought to work out a winning game plan and the requisite competencies before going to market.

If you’re interviewing right now you can prepare yourself by practicing with this question.  Think about the kinds of responses you may receive and how you will react to them.  Keep asking – and listening – until you arrive at a clear picture of what you will be expected to accomplish and exactly what you will need to do to win.  Then you can make an informed career choice.

Success Mindset

The first time I saw this quote I was immediately drawn to the message.  It was the early 70’s and North American confidence had been bolstered by more than two decades of unsurpassed growth and affluence.  It wasn’t the first time a thought like that had passed through my head.  At the age of five I remember realizing that I didn’t have to think like everyone else.  I can’t claim this as an original revelation as I’m sure it had something to do with growing up with the words of Martin Luther King and Gloria Steinem — influential people contemporary with my formative years.  I have always believed in the power of the mind to overcome, build, and push forward. 

The mind is a big place in a small space.

What we tell ourselves is likely to become our reality.  Research shows that children who are brought up with the message that they can be anything they want have a better shot at feeling successful in later life.  I believe the same holds true for the self talk that takes place in the adult mind.  Self talk can be upbuilding or it can be demoralizing.  If you are a business leader you should know that posture, gestures and facial expressions are strongly influenced by our thought patterns.  What message is your body language signaling?  Are you shoring up your team with positive energy or are you allowing lack of faith to weigh it down?

Being a positive thinker doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to problems.  Jim Collins said it best in Good to Great when he published what has become known as the Stockdale paradox: “You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end AND you must also confront the most brutal facts of your current reality.”

Those who say it can’t be done should get out of the way of those doing it.

Shamelessly Aligned with TGIM

You can find me online just about every day of the week on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and a few other digital networking spaces.   One thing you will never see me post is a TGIF message.  I don’t make fun of those who do, I just don’t participate.

Finally I’ve found a place where TGIM – thank god it’s Monday – is something to be proud of.

Eileen Chadnick is a life coach and principal of Big Cheese Coaching.  Her posts ask – and answer – this question: What is it to love your work… and your life?

You can check her out here.

What Are You Best At?

If this question has you stumped, you’re not alone.  Most of us don’t take the time to figure out what we’re good at, never mind best.

Someone asked this of me recently and it made me realize I had not seriously thought about it for a long time.  Unfortunately I only came to that realization after babbling on for a couple of minutes.  Not long after that conversation I read a great book on recruitment that led me to add two questions* to my interviews:

1) What are you really good at professionally?

2) What are you not good at or not interested in doing professionally?

Having just had the experience of not truly knowing the answer yet feeling obligated to come up with a response helped me to recognize this state in some of my candidates.  Test your own self-awareness.  Approach someone you trust and try to tell them in a dozen words or less what you excel at. Then ask them if you appear to be working in alignment with your strengths.

The Payoff

In my last post I talked about using goals to add backbone to time management decisions. The real payoff comes when your goals are in alignment with what you do best.

Completing this exercise clarified my career path and – as hokey as it might sound – it’s reduced the power of some of the pressures I’ve been putting on myself.  Check back with me in six months.  I’m betting my deliverables will show the difference.

Resources for Strengths Based Living

Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham – The author advocates for organizations to start building teams based on strengths and stop throwing training and resources at weaknesses

How Great Leaders Inspire Action – Simon Sinek, the author of “Start with Why” (a TED video)

Organic Team Building – My take on accessing and building on the strengths of the collective

*Interview questions from “Who – The A Method for Hiring” by Smart and Street

The Tyranny of the Possible

People blessed with ideation know that it can easily become a major weakness.  How? A mind racing with endless possibilities can take one off track.  It takes a load of discipline to keep things in perspective and in focus when ideas are plentiful.

The best antidote is clear objectives.  It’s a lot easier to make decisions on where to invest your energy if you know where you want to be in three to five years. Goals give us discipline.  They put backbone in our time management decisions.