This post should really be titled ‘Things I already knew but then Blissdom presenters reminded me of the importance of them.”
I kept hearing similar ideas being repeated through the weekend of the conference. Smart people were telling me things that I know are true and important and actually need to be practiced, so these are a few things that I need to write or my hand or on a post-it on my computer monitor or something:
You can’t just take things for granted, you can’t just accept what people tell you, you have to use all your experience and skills to reach a better understanding. Critical thinking is a very valuable skills, something to be honed and definitely something to be taught to our children.
Know your voice, hone your voice
Your voice is who you are, it’s what sets you apart. Working in communications helped me do this because I often had to write in other people’s voices. I still remember an assignment we had in my Grade 10 English class when we had to write in Hemingway’s style. This was after we had read The Old Man and the Sea, which I completely hated, but I was really good at writing in Hemingway’s voice. I rock a short sentence.
Some people hide behind anonymity on the Internet to say the most vile things. The greatest rule that seems to be incorporated into every religion is to treat others the way you want them to treat you. The Internet actually still counts.
If you’re going to take something on OWN IT
This is my blog, I have a business, I take on other things occasionally, and I take pride in everything I do and I work hard. I need to apply this more when I decide I want to do something. I need to take the bull by the horns.
You do not have control over other people
I can’t control what other people say or do, I can’t control the way they react to me, I can’t control what they say. As Rupaul says “what other people think of me is none of my business.”
Learn from mistakes and apologize when you realize you’re wrong
I have a lot of trouble making mistakes. I don’t like being wrong. I used to react really, really badly when I was proven wrong. (With my husband I often still do). Then I had a very special boss. Kathleen got upset when mistakes were made and things had to be fixed, but she didn’t want long explanations or excuses, she just wanted you to own up to it, fix it, and move on.
Opportunity lives where risk lies
I wasn’t even in the session where this was said at Blissdom, but I saw it tweeted and it makes total sense. This isn’t easy. Of course it isn’t easy, it’s too important.
Write every day
Every great author says it, almost all the speakers at Blissdom said it. I know it, it’s why I do #NaNoWriMo and encourage others. Writing is a practice.
It’s so easy to edit other people’s work. It’s so easy to catch their errors. Reading your own writing and finding mistakes is so very, very difficult. I found that reading things out loud helps me to catch things. I also ask my husband, mother and father to edit me. I have a pretty good team there – all three of them have journalism degrees, my husband works in comms, my mother was a writer/editor and my father is a retired journalism prof. Professionals in the family.
A blog is a publication and you need to get things right just as much as if you were writing a newspaper column.
Ask ‘so what?’ to get to the point of things
As I noted before, the biggest thing I learned when working for Kathleen was that you can’t waste people’s time. You have to get to the point instead of beating around the bush. This is true of my own time too.
Dreams are not just for kids. I can’t forget the things I aspired to when I was younger, then passions that still sit in my gut waiting for the right time.
Life is growth and change. Shit happens, you learn from it.
I hold myself back, I ask myself the ‘but, but, but…’ questions. Erica Ehm talked at the Power Hour about just asking for things. The worst thing that can happen if you ask is that someone might say no and you’ll have to ask someone else.
Seriously, the conversation Joe and I got to have with Erica as she drove us to the train station from the hotel (because Joe asked…) was a highlight of the conference for me. That women has done a lot of things in her life, all because she tried.
Let yourself feel ridiculous
Last weekend I danced in red pyjamas with a bum flap. I dyed my hair purple. I asked questions in the middle of a crowd. I cried talking to a man I’d never met before. It was awesome.
I can’t be anyone but me. I’ve tried, but it doesn’t work.