…or, more specifically, what do you want from this blog? From me?
“Stop reading minds and start asking questions.”
These words were up on one of the slides that Jon Acuff, the keynote speaker at Haven, presented. His entire “talk” was awesome and encouraging. Just what I needed. But, those words were one of those inspirational nuggets that hit me like a ton of bricks.
“…start asking questions.”
No, no, no. You don’t want to ask an open-ended question like that on a blog, because the answers might be… well, hard to hear? Not what you’re hoping for? Maybe too raw and real and honest? So, I don’t ask the question and I carry on with making assumptions about what my readers want from me. And maybe I’m missing the mark.
It’s been slowly creeping up on me – the realization that I don’t write like I used to. I used to be more open-hearted here. Somewhere in the middle of a growing business and living through the ups and downs that come with success, muddling through as I figure it out, I have insulated myself and kept my readers at arm’s length.
Not always, but most of the time.
I’ve always written to my blog readers like they are my friends. Encouraging them, teaching, sharing what I’m excited about, sometimes complaining in frustration, knowing others will understand. I still do that, but I feel like it’s more surface level as of late. Like we’re acquaintances and occasionally we’ll have a heart-to-heart and then we go back to talking about the weather. I’ve been feeling like that for a while and I couldn’t put my finger on it until now.
I’ve also come to recognize that I have always been more excited about and thankful for the new readers I acquired (the growth), than I was about the existing, loyal followers. And I even cringe admitting that in writing. Growth is just exciting! It’s sort of like the excitement or defeat you feel when the scale goes up and down while on a diet. It doesn’t matter that you’ve already lost 10 lbs. If you lose two more, those two are special and what make you giddy when you step off. If you gain one, the 9 you’ve lost aren’t enough to lift your spirits.
I would never have said that I took my loyal readers for granted, but I think, in truth, that I have and I am sorry.
Somewhere along the way, and I don’t even know when it happened, I decided that if I was over a certain number of page views or below a certain Alexa ranking, I was enough. I was doing it “right.” If I fall below, I am not. I’ve been experiencing so many years of exciting growth and benchmarks, that I didn’t know what to do when I hit a plateau or started sliding backwards. It made me feel uneasy and I started second-guessing myself and buying into the voice that told me numbers are everything and yours are not good enough.
Now, I know that’s not true. I know that you can’t measure everything with one stick. That’s why there are measuring tapes, barometers, seismographs, thermometers… You get the idea. I know that success, life in general, is never on a consistent incline heading up to perfection. It’s filled with mountains and valleys, twists and turns. It’s usually the unexpected that brings out character, reveals surprises and becomes a sweet and profound event in hindsight.
In an intellectual conversation, I know all of this.
My heart, though, needs some convincing and it feels safer if I start to close it off and turn this blog into a parade of projects without much heart behind them.
And that’s not what I want. And I don’t think it’s what my readers want, either, but that’s me being a mindreader.
The good news is that it feels like a weight is lifting off my shoulders, just sharing this with you. It feels like I’ve been keeping a secret from a friend and it’s finally been spoken and it’s no longer a burden.
Also good, is that I feel recharged after attending a couple of really great sessions at Haven that spoke to some of the things I’ve been in angst over and getting stuck on. I had conversations, sometimes even really brief ones, with some incredibly inspiring, beautiful people and their words filled me up.
I do have some new things I’m working on and a steady stream of ideas I hope to pursue, but I feel more confident than ever, that I need to focus most of my energy on making the things I already do even better, richer, deeper, more fulfilling, more encouraging, more meaningful. And I feel ready to do that.
So, again, I pose the question… What do you, my reader, want from me? What do you want me to write about and take pictures of? What do you want me to share? To teach? How do you want me to share those things with you? How can I encourage and inspire you? These questions are open-ended and you can even feel free to answer questions that I’m not even asking. I’m not putting out a survey with limited questions and multiple choice answers. I’m leaving the comment field open for you to answer honestly, openly, and in your own words.
I’m hoping our honesty, on both sides, will end in the kind of hug shared by dear friends that’s long, bringing both tears and smiles, and a deeper friendship along with it.
I’m all ears…