This is my 1,000th blog post. I feel it should be special. But the pressure is daunting, so i’ll just dive in. One thousand: they’ve not all been great, but that’s not the point. They’ve been steps on a journey, each one necessary to get my thinking to where it is today. The permission to write is a gift: a democratised right to learn, to share, together. I feel very lucky.
At heart, i’m just curious: about how things work, about people, about philosophy, culture and science. About life. I’m curious as to how we can make things better: to be fairer, to be more equal, to be more effective, to be everything we can be.
I write for myself: for the first three months, my total traffic was pretty much zero. It was daunting when someone subscribed. When a thousand people subscribed, that was terrifying. But i learnt that if you try to write for other people, you fail. You have to write for yourself: be that about poetry, leadership or art. People will follow your story if it’s interesting. And if it’s not, that’s ok too: the act of telling the story is sometimes enough to evolve your thinking.
I write often about the Social Age: a term i use to describe the world we live in. It’s an evolved reality, where creativity, technology, communication, art, they’re all democratised. It’s a world where our reputation creates our authority, where the relationship between organisations and individuals, and individuals and governments, is evolving. A time when our relationship with knowledge itself is changing. It’s wonderfully exciting and we are only one percent of the way through this journey. Everything will change: everything will continue to change.
In the Social Age, we iterate our way through our thinking, through our work: micro failure, micro progress, massive momentum. As power gradients are eroded by the impacts of social authority, organisations need to recognise the changing ecosystem that they inhabit: the fact that people must be treated as people: with respect, kindness and honesty. People are not commodity: they are our culture, our potential, our innovation, our community. Great organisations have great cultures, co-created by the great people they attract. Too many organisations deal in denial and control: they can never be agile until they address this.
Someone wrote to me the other day, saying how they like my meandering style: it made me chuckle. I think it was a polite way of saying that i easily distract myself, which is both a blessing and a curse. This is the age of the generalist: people who can connect the dots, who can be fluid in their response, who embrace uncertainty and are willing to learn. A certain amount of meandering is required.
I feel like i am one percent along this journey: however many books i read, there are ten more waiting. However many words i write, there are a thousand more buzzing in my head. However many pictures i draw, my hands itch for more. Because creativity is not finite: you can’t give away your best ideas, because you probably haven’t had them yet.
In the Social Age, sharing is a differentiator: share widely, but wisely. I share everything i write. I even share the books. To hide them away would be to deny the value of the community, to deny that they could be better. It’s sharing that gives knowledge it’s power. If i look at most of my long-form writing, and all of my presentations, they are the children of the blog: ideas that have evolved in this space and found fruition elsewhere. But there is so much more to do.
We need humility: a willingness to set aside our formal mantles of power, our certainty that we are both right and righteous. We are only part of the picture: the humble leader is willing to learn. The humble learner is willing to lead.
Be curious: be bold. Nobody will change the world except you, in good company.
Be intolerant of injustice and unfairness: nobody will change the world except you, with your community.
Be brave and indignant: strive to build a better world. Nobody will do that except us.
What i’ve learnt from writing? We pass along this road once: it’s many, many miles long, many, many footsteps to take, many, many views along the way.
But we always go forward, we can only look back. So don’t regret any of those steps. If you want to be something tomorrow, take the first steps today.
Some facts about the blog:
I wrote one post 400 miles from the North Pole. It was cold. But not as cold as the post i wrote outside a cafe in Vienna, where the iPad died from thermal shock. I wrote a post about ‘what we learn from depression‘, which gets a couple of hits everyday. I hope it helps. Blogs are unpredictable, but as far as i can tell, the posts i thrash out in a hurry, late and tired, often land better than the ones i work hard on. Which just goes to show. Something.
I’ve written posts from the UK, France, Austria, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the US, Philippines, Norway, Channel Islands, Netherlands and probably one or two other places that got lost in the blur.
I’ve written about learning (in all it’s forms), about culture, creativity, innovation, co-creation, about painting, sculpture, graffiti, art, music, manga, poetry, gardening, flying, walking and drinking coffee. I’ve written about museums, technology, cameras, philosophy, reflection, leadership, mentoring, coaching, Land Rovers and collaboration. I’ve paid tribute to some people i respect deeply.
I wrote one post about cyberbullying, which i deleted, because of a bully. I write widely about equality, because it’s the fight of our time. And i’ve discovered it’s complex in a global society, differentiated by different views of what’s right. I’ve reflected out loud extensively about this as i try to find a way to unite these views. That’s the point of the blog: it’s a reflective space, my first reflective space, where we learn and we learn to change.
WordPress, which is where this blog lives, is probably the best piece of software i’ve ever used. The team behind it are awesome. The customer support is awesome. Their success reflects their mindset: enabling, connected, supportive. And i’ve never paid a single cent to use it. Thank you.
Paper, the App by Fifty Three on the iPad, is what i use for all my illustrations: it’s superb. When i started illustrating the blog, it drove interest and traffic up tenfold. Which just goes to show. I’m an artist, but never a digital artist. Paper has let me cross that divide. The team behind it deserve all the success they have achieved. I wish them great luck as they continue.
And the community that surround and supports me: i try to respond to every comment and connection, because it’s in the conversation that we find the value, that we create the meaning. Thank you for your support.
And, of course, my family: all that time they let me daydream and run wild turned out to be all the structure you need.