Good blog posts are like a serving of fine, aged whiskey. You don’t need a large quantity to feel its kick, and you can tell that a great amount of time and effort went into producing it.
There’s a whole lot more than ideation and creative writing behind a good blog. Each post has to be meaningful and short – two adjectives that don’t often get linked together. I liken the blogging process to a distillery. The writer gathers her ingredients, simmers them over time, reducing the mix until only the concentrated essence of each thought remains. What you’re left with is intensified content with all of the fluff removed.
Here’s another way to look at it. Have you ever asked two people the same question and found that one rambles on and on while the other is able to provide a succinct and satisfying response? The babbler is still in the ingredient gathering stage while the other has already distilled the topic into its simplest terms.
I get my best daily doses of learning from good blog writers. They don’t replace face-to-face interactions or cultivating relationships, but from a time and space perspective, it’s extremely efficient. You can access them on your schedule – with no time away from the office – and you can drop them without distracting others. But best of all, blog writers are generous people. If you come across a writer that is particularly intriguing, all it takes is a quick email message to launch a new professional and learning relationship.
In honour of blogs and blog writers everywhere, here are the things I think are the best:
- Blogs transform solo learning into social learning. When readers disagree or have something to add, they are free to leave comments or email the writer privately. Readers often increase their social circle by interacting on topics of interest.
- Blogs are a safe way to investigate opposing points of view. Maintaining a social or work circle of people “just like me” is a surefire recipe for stunted development. Yet, it can feel uncomfortable to plunk oneself in the middle of a group with dissenting views. Reading blogs is a safe way to test the water and decide if you want to know more. At the very least, it will widen your perspective.
- Anyone can point out gaps or faults (humans develop this ability early – just ask anyone with teenagers in the house) but blog writers tend toward solutions. Don’t get me wrong. Cynical points of view are popular right now – especially if you’re a stand up comic. Some of the most-read blogs contain cynicism in their titles but a quick perusal of their posts show their ability to develop thoughts that graduate past problem identification and spend more time in the solution stage.
Maintaining an active blog is a lot of work. A well-written 300-word post has unseen hours of thought, research and writing behind it. Why so much time? It goes back to that famous saying attributed to Churchill: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter so I wrote a long one instead.” There’s no way to rush a distillery. Unless you’re talking to an adolescent – in which case you should get them to do some writing for you — right now — before they figure out how much work is involved.
Here are some of my favourite leadership blogs:
Seth’s Blog. Seth Godin is short and to the point. Don’t read it unless you’re looking for serious professional development and don’t mind being poked at from time to time.
Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog. I’ve alway said curiosity is the mother of everything good.
Lead Change Group. What is learning and development if it’s not intentional change? This group of writers are some of the best from the blog-o-sphere.