This is the time of year when Americans collectively pause and consider what it is they are thankful for. It seems only appropriate that I am also celebrating the one-year anniversary of this blog at the same time, as what it has contributed to me over the last 12 months is something I could never have predicted, and something I am incredibly thankful for. So for this Thanksgiving-themed post, I reflect on the first year of this blog, and give thanks for what it has provided me.
I thought about starting this blog for years. In truth, there’s a very good chance that I could STILL be thinking about it had it not been for a #lrnchat tweetchat I participated in where blogging was discussed. I had mentioned that I didn’t yet have a blog, and a few people came forward to encourage me to start one. One of those people was Dave Ferguson, who pointed out that I should be blogging for my primary audience: myself. It wasn’t until Dave gave me that subtle nudge I didn’t know I needed that I finally made the jump. Thanks Dave.
Another turning point in my blogging was the holiday-themed post I wrote called “Twas the Night Before Social Media”. That was something I wrote, tweaked, and finalized about two weeks before I published it. It was something that I looked at as a ‘risk’. Did it match the image I was trying to portray?
In hindsight, taking the chance was the best thing I could have done. Without realizing it at the time, it was a post that allowed me to be a little more open, and invited people to get to know me. It also did strike a chord with readers, and to this day is the most popular posting I have written. It was a catalyst to many of the gifts my blog provided me in the months that followed.
That posting helped me build connections with a great number of people, including many individuals I look to as leaders in the Learning and Performance field. I was building a network of peers through which I could grow, and in turn help others with their growth. I increased my exposure to the industry I love many times over, and have become a part of the greater community of the field.
That community exposure is another gift I am eternally thankful for, and one that I hope I can share with others in the future. Being a part of the community is wonderful, but the real gift my blog provided me with was awareness.
There’s growing discussion in the field about how we can get professionals to adapt to the shifting nature of workplace learning. The first challenge in that is awareness that the shift is going on. Think about walking through a hallway you are unfamiliar with. There’s a locked door to your right. Behind it could be a tiny closet, or it could be an entry into a whole new world you had no idea existed.
In most cases, we just continue walking down the hallway, not really giving the door much thought. As it turns out, my blog was the key to that lock, and I an eternally grateful that I opened the door.
The blog and my participation in the industry community provided me with something else that I am thankful for: Opportunity. In the past year I have had the pleasure of participating in many opportunities that I would not have considered possible even a few years ago. I have been invited to write for publications, to speak at conferences, and most recently, to be the ‘official’ curator for the backchannel of the DevLearn conference. While there were a number of factors that contributed to these opportunities being available to me, they all stem from the same starting point: this blog, and the exposure it has given me. For that, I thank each and every person that has ever read and/or shared something I have written.
That brings me to the thing my blog has provided me with that I am most thankful for: You.
I don’t mean ‘You’ in the context of being a reader of this blog – though I do appreciate that. I am referring to the connections that I have made with the people on the other side of the door that my blog helped open. I have made very real connections with people through my blog and subsequent interactions that provide me with the ultimate value: friendship.
DevLearn was the perfect example of something I’ve said a few times in the past: Before social media – and in this context, my blog and the interactions it helped initiate – I had never greeted people I was ‘meeting’ for the first time with a hug. I lost count of how many times that happened at DevLearn, and I can't express how much it means to me.
Happy Thanksgiving friends, including those of you outside the United States who may not celebrate the holiday formally. Thank you for everything you add to my life.