A slightly different take this week, as this post marks my 1,000th entry since I started on this blogging lark some seven years ago, and also my last for a few weeks as I head off on a well-needed holiday with my family.
I’ve been thinking a lot in recent weeks about why I do this. Conversations with many, including my old BBC colleague Euan Semple, have got me into a bit of a blogging existentialist frame of mind.
I’ve many times described my blog as “cheaper than therapy”, and that is both tongue in cheek and very true. I find that writing helps me to formulate and clarify my thinking. Constant peer review, conversation, and it has to be said thinking of an audience, play their part. It’s my working out loud.
The past three years have been a constant challenge professionally, in a good and bad way. My time spent working at Microsoft was some of the most stressful of my career so far. I faced an employer where I knew from early days cultural fit was going to be a significant issue. That was my cultural fit, not theirs. I couldn’t adapt sufficiently. Combined with the realities of a young family, that made for a stressful time. My blog gave me a way (sometimes slightly cryptically, sometimes not so) to work that through.
Since going it alone with Stamp, blogging has become even more important. A place to express my points of view, to share ideas where I have no colleagues with which to bounce them around. But also a resource which I can constantly use and reuse when meeting with potential collaborators and clients.
One of Euan’s recent themes had been about vulnerability. It’s made me question whether I am open enough with my views, or if I am constantly screening and filtering myself. I’m coming to the view that possibly I don’t feel that vulnerable in being open with others. Occasionally I do filter, to protect the names of clients or of other innocent parties. My blogging for CIO.co.uk is much more filtered, but there I feel it’s more of a job than therapy.
Early in my career, just over twenty years ago, I had a friend who was terminally ill. It was becoming clear that Jon was coming close to his end, and in the weekly team meeting that I was part of at KPMG, I shared that fact (and that I was likely to be a little distracted as a result).
After the meeting had finished, one of my colleagues came up to me to say how he thought I had been very brave to admit such things. I was dumbfounded. What Jon was going through was brave. What I had done was just to explain my potentially erratic behaviour.
Looking back, I now realise that many of us put up big barriers between our work personae and what happens in our heads and in our lives outside of work. There are no rights or wrongs, but digital tools of mass publishing are allowing those of us who don’t to be more transparent than we have in the past. Being an open person I guess I am also then drawn to others of a similar mindset, just as those who play golf are drawn to the golf club. For avoidance of any doubt, I don’t play golf. But I also don’t think I’m in any greater risk from blogging than golfers may be after a few in the 19th green.
So after a short break, it’s on to the next 1,000 posts. If some of this stuff is useful for you then great. Really great. But it’s really useful for me, too.