“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– H. Jackson Brown Jr.
It’s been over 10 years since I joined LinkedIn and, unlike other social media channels, my activity over there is limited. Like many I’ll follow the occasional group that I think I should be following, read the odd article that sounds vaguely professional but not too academic, accept requests to connect from people who haven’t taken the time to tell me why we should connect, and wonder if I really want to connect with my boss, will it look bad if I don’t, and what if he or she discovers my secret love of YMCA?
Question is why? Why is my activity limited? Why don’t I contribute when, deep down, part of me just wants to shout out what I’m thinking?
Is it because part of me is afraid that anything I write won’t be considered interesting or professional? Is it because I’m worried that someone may criticise what I write (or even worse, criticise my grammar and punctuation)? Is it concern over what my colleagues will think of me? Is it because I feel I have nothing worthwhile to say?
Or is it because I’m actually afraid that I may find something interesting within myself that might, just might, be successful? Will it really be that bad if I openly admit that there are moments when life isn’t good? What ten good or bad things will actually happen to me if I can’t come up with ten bullet points on why something is good or bad? Is it really going to be terrible if I’m not as funny as I think I am? Or express an opinion? Will my professionalism really be questioned if I miss out a comma or question mark
You see I follow plenty of people who call themselves “thought leaders” in their chosen field when in reality most (not all), only repost the content of others with no original insight or comment. I’ve looked up to these people. I followed them in the belief they were “insightful”. Again I have to ask why? What is it of value that they’re actually contributing? Where is the original thought that might challenge my beliefs and make me really think?
I like to think that I’m an emotionally intelligent adult and it rankles me because deep down I believe I can do just as well as them (but without the egotistical title). I don’t get annoyed with those that I follow, but at my own self-limiting thoughts and at myself for not trying. I get annoyed at not taking that first step. I’m afraid of letting me be me.
I’m not a “thought leader” but I am a daydreamer. I dream of what awe-inspiring things the people I work with could unleash if they were given the chance. I want those around me to succeed and be happy. I dream of the wonderful things we could all do if the right opportunity came along. I dream of the wonderful things I could do if the opportunity was there.
And the truth is that the opportunity is always there. Every day I’m presented with chances to help people, to help myself, and leave the tiny part of the world that I live in just a little bit better. Every day I have the opportunity to share yet I don’t take it because I’ve been afraid to recognise it and do something with it.
So it’s time for me to challenge my own fears and shout out “HERE I AM” in big, bold capital letters! As I throw off my own bowlines and sail into an uncharted future it’s time for me to be personal and professional, to let the daydreamer loose on the world, to be opinionated, to be childish, to be right and to be wrong.
Come with me. Come dream with me.