Happy Anniversary to me! Today marks the first anniversary of this blog. It’s been a fabulous experience. As I look back, these are some of the lessons I’ve learned:
1. Nothing beats a good story
The three most-read blog-posts stand out for one important feature. Each was inspired by a personal story. I’m not a storyteller by nature. But these three posts were easy to write. I was amazed to discover how people wanted to read and share the narratives of my life.
- Some lessons in customer service from Porter Airlines – a flight-cancellation story with a happy ending
- Receiving grace in the face of grief – in which I recall the worst day of my life
- The grave risk of being inaccurate and inattentive – my personal choice for most powerful learning from the last year
2. I have a newfound respect for writers
Today marks the 60th post I have written for this site. I had set a goal of posting at least once a week and I pretty much managed to do that. It was far more difficult than I expected to choose topics and find time to write something thoughtful each week. What struck me most was how difficult it is to bare one’s soul on the internet. For the first month, I didn’t post any links on social media sites because I was so timid about sharing my thoughts. Eventually I forced myself to put up a link for each post on Facebook and Twitter so that others might see the stories. It has been a great exercise in making public statements about what I believe. I still worry about offending someone. I worry about whether I understand an issue enough to comment accurately. I worry about what will happen if (and when) my opinions change over time. But I’ve announced my stand on several issues – and no great disaster has ensued to date.
This has given me profound respect for writers who bare their souls in entire books full of opinion, speculation and emotion. I am so thankful for people who do this – because this is how we learn and grow as a society. Ideally blogging is enhanced by the potential for dialogue. So far no one has expressed intense disagreement with my opinions. But they have the option to do so. When this happens I hope I’ll have the grace to accept differences of opinion – and be willing to let myself be shaped as needed by the insights of others. In fact, I look forward to this. I agree with the sentiment of Sobonfu Somé who said: “It is through conflict that we gain knowledge of ourselves and learn new situations for using our own gifts.”
3. I can make myself heard but not everyone can
I am astonished that 6354 people from over 100 countries have visited my website in the past year. I’m touched when I see that people have passed on a link to one of my posts. I’m still getting used to this odd way that the Internet helps us share personal stories with total strangers. What a terrific way to build bridges with people both near and far. We need to hear each other’s stories. I’m told that the late Fred Rogers once noted, “there isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.” I believe that.
But not everyone gets to share his or her stories the way I have been able to do through this blog. In fact (to paraphrase Laurel Thatcher Ulrich) I suspect that the voices we most need to hear are barely audible. Despite some built-in opportunity for dialogue, this blog is pretty much a uni-directional communication. I’m aware of the limitations of my own perspective – and by extension, one of the limitations of a personal blog. Many people don’t have the luxury of indulging in so much reflective writing. But every soul has some stories that ought to be shared.
Maybe that’s one way that classical journalism beats a personal blog – by digging up the untold stories. Maybe in Year Two of blogging I can find a way to amplify other voices that need to be heard – the voices that are barely audible. Maybe these timid attempts at sharing my own stories will inspire others to write about their own.