It may be a surprise to many people that I have not been a member of a circle however, I have read John Stepper’s excellent book of the same name Working Out Loud along with sharing my work and learning publicly and openly across different social and virtual platforms for many years now on this blog, my previous blog Ramblings and also my YouTube channel.
However, when the invitation was extended to me to take part in it, I took it as another experience to learn about how this program is structured. In some way, it feels slightly strange for me to go back to something that is more formalised and structured for me over a 12 week program with different tasks and activities to do within a small group.
At the same time though, I know it will challenge me because it will bring up some areas that I could improve upon and most of all, I’m back within a group of people who come from corporate and business backgrounds (as opposed to the people I’ve been connecting with across social media who come from mainly creative, marketing, health, science, environment, community and other non-corporate industries).
I believe that working with this group will force me to reflect and reconsider my approach back to a corporate focus who, after all, are my clients.
My Half-Hearted Goals for 2018
I made a pact with myself that in 2018, I was not going to have any resolutions, goals, ‘one word’, or strategies – which is unlike me.
After all, I’m someone who is organised and much of what I do is pre-planned, co-ordinated and managed within an inch of its life although it may seem to others that it comes across as ‘off the cuff’ or free spirited. Be under no impression that this is the case. After all, if you’ve spent over 10 years in the military and many more in corporate, creativity and flights of fancy wouldn’t have taken you far at all.
It’s only now, as an independent consultant can I finally free myself to experiment, “show my quirks” and get rid of that “uniform” of professionalism, seriousness and reserve that we were expected to follow to fit “within the norm”.
However, for working out loud circles, you need some goals and I half heartedly came up with some that I’ll achieve. I’m not exactly enticed by them but a couple of them have presented a serious mental obstacles for me these last few years. These are:
(a) To lose 5 kilos in 12 weeks
(b) To publish the book on Snapchat that I had been writing last year
The first goal is all about my health and fitness and in truth, I find exercise tedious at the best of times. If I’m really honest with myself, I haven’t made it my priority because I don’t care enough about it. It’s as simple as that. I need to learn to care more about it and then I’ll see the changes. John Stepper mentions the importance of “caring” about goals to make them priorities.
The second goal is much more deep seated and it’s something I have been struggling with. Not writing the book per se – writing a book seems easy nowadays and anyone can do it. It’s what it REPRESENTS. I’ve had people tell me that I’m not “considered a thought leader unless I write a book” and this generalisation is something that I’ve been fighting against.
For one, I despise the term Thought Leader (as you can see from my article You Are Not a Thought Leader).
Secondly, who are people to tell others that all their knowledge, skills, experiences, capabilities and everything that they have shared, created, designed, developed and published through different means are not valid unless they write a book that gathers dust on someone’s shelf?
I want to create, show and demonstrate how I do things and experiment through trial and error and take people on a journey with me while I’m doing it. I want people to contribute, participate and share their own experiences of it. I want to see the idea unfold and come alive, morph, change or even die over time. I want people to see and experience THAT – not just read about it after the fact.
The real learning (and the fun) is in the PROCESS not the end product.
A book represents the end product and misses the social experience in the middle entirely.
In some way, if I was to write a book it would be a book that looks like a real life, physical and “alive” version of a Wikipedia page – written by me as well as others, constantly changing, evolving, interactive and social. Like a “build your own adventure story” – which may explain why I love Snapchat so much because this is how this platform works.
I wrote the Snapchat book in defiance – hence the topic because not many people understand Snapchat – and herein, I came across my own obstacle.
Who was I writing this for? What was I proving? I lost my mojo for the book when people thought I was writing the book for “thought leadership” rather than a love for showing and sharing our work and learning through this platform. I need to get my mojo back and finish it so this may be a perfect opportunity to do it as part of the Working Out Loud circle.
I need to care more about the book and less of what people think of “thought leadership” without getting riled about it every time I hear those two words.
The other goals I have for the next 12 weeks are:
(c) To learn Blockchain and Bitcoin – the former for applications in learning and development; the latter to understand the mania that has gripped the world with this cryptocurrency. I find these fascinating and already started learning through different online courses and MOOCs. Also, people in my network have started sending me all sorts of different resources. As a spin off to this (but not as part of the circle), I’ll also be exploring more into the world of privacy and data security and as a personal goal start to lock down some aspects of how I use technology.
(d) To have a social media free day (Sunday). I haven’t started this yet and I guess I have to this Sunday. What I have done was to remove all the social media applications off my phone and keep only Snapchat (I use this to record my daily vlogs), YouTube (my preferred video platform for learning and creating) and Instagram (for my creative Sharon Breaknews CNT Newschannel photos and videos – my creative outlet). So far, removing the social media apps off my phone means that I’ve reclaimed time back which I have devoted to more video creation, reflection and writing.
Our First Week
We had our first meeting on Zoom yesterday afternoon and it was lovely to meet the group in person.
There’s five of us scattered around the world and it was delightful to have a mix of people with different experience and come from different industries. The initial meeting is always awkward as you introduce yourself and share your goal however by the end of it, we had some ideas of how we could start. Some people had their goals written out, others hadn’t come up with goals as yet and others were in the process of changing them (me).
My key learning out of the first session was that even though to many of the people there, working out loud was new and foreign, to me, I’ve been doing it for many years on public social networks and at times, I have the opposite view albeit begrudgingly. For example, as an independent consultant, I am mindful of the perception of working out loud means that you place yourself in a risky and vulnerable position where you could be taken advantage.
For example, I shared my frustration at understanding what my value is to others if you’re not remunerated accordingly or when clients expect you to offer your services for free. To work out loud, to put yourself ‘out there’ is not only a personally rewarding and wonderful experience – it is also a daunting experience because it challenges you to the core about your beliefs about the value you hold for potential employers and customers – and to the extent of how you want to be treated within the professional relationship with respect, trust and equality. I think I got a tad heated talking about this but the feedback received from the group was valuable so this week, I’m going to look into this more and come up with some actions to help me through this.
No Goals for 2018?
If you want to see why I decided against goals for 2018, you can check out the video here.
Have you been part of a working out loud circle? If so, why not share your experience?
This blog post by Helen Blunden was written in Melbourne, Australia and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.