I’ve been doing this blog since 2014. I’ve been sending out my email newsletter since 2009.
Somewhere along the way, I began missing the point of what this is all about.
The Wrong Success?
Here’s what it’s NOT about. The success of this effort is NOT measured by:
- Having tens of thousands of subscribers and hundreds of thousands of readers
- Selling tons of books and online training programs
- My book deal with Penguin Random House
- My columns with major publications like Psychology Today and Huff Post
- Working with dozens of Fortune 500 companies as their keynote speaker
Certainly, I view those as successes and I’m extremely grateful for each one.
But it’s not what our little community is all about.
How it Used to Be
Let’s reminisce for a bit…
Every Tuesday, without fail, you would get an email from me. (Remember that?)
I would share stories from my business, my clients, the news, or just my personal life and family. Good, bad, ugly, whatever. No matter what was going on, I’d reach out with SOMETHING.
We would talk about what’s happening to human connection – little ways to bring it back in our lives and in our work. I would share my thoughts and ideas – and my stories. Freely. Authentically.
And I’d hear back from you. Social media, blog comments, likes, shares, etc. But the majority would be personal email responses. You’d hit reply and start typing with equal freedom and authenticity.
Sometimes you’d fire back a thought about the content of my message. But more often, you’d ask about my kids, or my hobbies, or you’d razz me about how I’m a fan of TWO baseball teams (Red Sox and Cubs…but the Red Sox first.)
But Ever Since…
Ever since, well, when exactly? I’m not completely sure.
But I’d be willing to bet it had something to do with more people paying attention to us. The “successes” I mentioned earlier may have changed things a bit here and there.
Once people were watching, a little voice inside my head told me that I’d better make things a little more “perfect”. Like, “Clean the house, man. There are PEOPLE coming over!”
Slowly, but surely, I became hyper-aware of my flaws.
I guess writing gets harder when there are more eyeballs scrutinizing your words.
I got hung up on images, grammar, headlines that seemed “too this” or “too that,” and content. Ohmigosh, the content…
Content, Content, Content
I wanted to wow people with every post. I wanted to be SO helpful or SO insightful for every reader, every time. But I also wanted them to be short, quick, and easy to digest. Mind-blowing, but convenient. I just wanted it all to be…awesome.
Who cares about what happened to my daughter’s foot that week? Why would anyone want to read about my new lawnmower? (A Husqvarna zero-turn…oh yeah, baby!) Does anyone really need to see a picture of me in front of an audience of HR pros in Nashville? NO! They want to know what the latest research paper says about body language and how they can use it to score their next pay raise!
So, I put a laser-focus on content. If I could just give you enough INFORMATION about human connection…If I could just analyze it enough, or provide you with enough strategies to create a more “connected work culture,” or to put technology in its place, or to use magic words to become more influential, THEN I would make an impact.
I got lost in content, facts, knowledge, and information.
Yes, that stuff is important. Informing and entertaining are pretty much my entire job description. But our conversations dwindled. Those tiny moments of connection were lost.
For crying out loud, what we need right now is NOT more information! We are drowning in information, but starving for knowledge. What we need is a community of people who we can count on to help keep our focus in the right place. What we need is each other. Now more than ever.
I Did Exactly What I Teach People NOT to Do
I claim that connection is greater than technical knowledge. I purport that personality is more important than professionalism. Wait…did I just type the word, “purport”? There I go again trying to sound smart. Who says that?? I literally don’t even know what that means.
And yet, despite what I’ve taught…despite what I BELIEVE…I’ve let other things come before our human connection.
And I’m sorry.
I get it, doing what it takes to create true connection is HARD. Believe me, I get it. More so now than ever.
- It’s hard to be vulnerable.
- It’s hard to be 100% consistent and dependable.
- It’s hard to break through the pull of digital technology and create moments of human connection with customers, clients, or even family and friends.
- It’s hard to consider others first when your own life is upside-down.
Do it anyway.
Because it’s not what you do, it’s who you do it for.
Quality products and services are important. But the pursuit of quality should never come before the pursuit of connection.
I’m going to continue putting out useful information. I can’t help it. I LOVE reading, researching, interviewing, and dissecting everything I can get my hands on about what makes us tick.
But I’m going to throw away my quest to “legitimize” my work in the eyes of the general public. I’m going to stop acting like a journalist, or a scientist, or a best-selling author, or a thought leader. I’m going to stop acting at all. I no longer want to “fit in” or “find my place”.
I’m just going to continue being extravagantly passionate about human connection. I’m going to continue being purposeful in helping others to create MORE connection in their lives and work. I’m going to continue to evangelize the importance of connection ESPECIALLY in our digital world, even though it feels like pushing a boulder uphill. I’ll share my ah-ha moments, my excitement, my hopes, my fears, and real life.
In other words, I’ll get back to my roots. I’ll put my money where my mouth is. I’ll practice what I preach.
It kind of feels like we’ve already started, doesn’t it?
If you don’t already join us for the weekly emails, sign up below…or above…or wherever it is.
Here’s YOUR homework. Write your own letter. Write it to your employees, your customers, your family, or yourself. Tell them what you’ve gotten away from. And tell them what you want to get back to. Be real. Apologize. Promise to be better. But above all…CONNECT.