Over the past decade, somewhat like a never-ending rollercoaster ride, I have begun to own my expertise, and then NOT own my expertise or anything positive about me…
Up the incline inch by inch, slowly being filled with the exhilaration of anticipation..and then WHAM! Plummeting to the bottom..Not only of the rollercoaster ride.. To the very bottom of the internal nasty-voice that screams abuse and crushes any self esteem. Over and over like the amusement park ride, the mercurial rise and fall is exhausting.
I know that I'm no dummy, I have spent decades learning all I could get my hands. Deeply immersed in the digital world. Deeply unsure of how or if I fit in: Anywhere, truth be told. I spent decades second guessing myself, reinventing me as often as I had to do. Each reinvention would be swiftly followed by the specter of “imposters syndrome”. The fear and doubt would take control, until the next health crisis. Truth be told some of these health crises often felt like I was being granted a reprieve. A reprieve, just in time: A reprieve before I was exposed as an imposter.
Sounds so dramatic. I know. I know. Now at this late date, I recover my equilibrium and take onus for the wobble… make that wobbles… And despite the continual confirmation of my expertise and my business success, the cycle that is so predictable, it's almost laughable!
It’s time. It’s most definitely time. I'm now putting myself out there, sans University degree, armed with my experience, my wisdom and of course my bent sense of humour...
It’s all part of how my story fits in with what I do.
Connection. Tribes. Networking. Word of Mouth. All ways of being Social. Since I’ve almost always been a social person, Social Media fits me like a glove.
I have always been incredibly social.In grade school I was always being reprimanded for being too chatty. I liked to be friends with all types of people. I was a figure skater, I rode horses, and loved to dance. I hung out with the skiers, and sometimes, despite my height challenges, with the basketball girls. I loved the drama crowd, yet I was always too shy (those who know me are rolling their eyes now) to try out for a part in high school. The cool kids, or the nerds, the sporty crowd or the bookworms - I was friends with all of the assorted tribes. People and their ‘why’ always fascinated me.
I took a huge hit to my well-being, my mental health, as they now say, at age 16 when my friend took her own life.
And then in 1976 for all intents and purposes I went dormant. The real me disappeared inside. I became a type of automaton. Functioning, in a world where I felt I did not fit. I was stuck in unending pain. Going through the motions of life, the core of me numb, confused, hidden and as I later understood: frighteningly insecure and deeply angry at myself.
I think, looking back, that the numbness was like an ice cap keeping all those roiling emotions under wraps. Over the decades, there were many thaws, over and over, until pain again, took precedence. However, that is a story for another time...
By the early 2000’s, I had connected with a spiritual mentor. I was developing a much different mindset, I was meditating regularly and filled with gratitude. For the most part.
There were still those unbidden dark times, when the core of me was trying hardest to break through. The spectre of doubt and insecurity was ever at my side. Clawing to take control, to take first place. To be RIGHT.
I now know that I am not alone in thinking I am unworthy. Not alone in feeling less than enough. I am just like so many of you. Constantly dodging the “imposter Syndrome monster”; often nipping at your heels, less than one step behind… always at the ready to devour you whole.
And yet, nothing happens in a vacuum. It's amazing how we can stumble through life doing all the day to day things that are required. Working. Raising a family. Falling, failing, time after time and yet, rising again and again to keep going: unwilling or unaware of any other option.. And time passes. In the fog I began to see there could be more… would be more… It was up to me to choose my path...
Fast forward to 2007, Facebook opened up to the general public. This social media channel gave me a way to stalk my adult children without phoning every day worried about the latest news from the areas in which they lived.
Fairly quickly after opening my account, I surpassed both my kids in the number of friends online. I saw that this could be useful for business.
When fan pages were introduced I advised my business clients to use these pages as a new tool to expand marketing efforts. I expanded my web design and marketing business to include management and training for social media platforms. I realized immediately that SEO would relate to social media and how my clients would benefit from integrating their web presence.
It was beginning to seem like social media was made just for me.
It’s a fact, being social is something most people do: Have done, since the beginning, As soon as there were more than two humans, we humans opted to be social.
If you look back, in medieval times, when people lived in small villages, there were always those few souls that had their ear to the ground, their finger on the pulse, of everyone in the village. This amounted to word of mouth marketing for that time. We still have word of mouth marketing, now it’s with technology.
Word of mouth was how people could sway public opinion. It was the social thing to do, sharing your good and bad experiences with your friends and neighbours. if your neighbour went to the farrier at the east end of the village, and that farrier took great care of the neighbours horse, and he was also kind and gentle to the neighbour’s children, your neighbour would tell his friends.
That east end farrier got the lion’s share of the work in the village due to the reputation he had built, which was spread from neighbour to neighbour.
Sadly, the farrier at the west end of the village, who did an adequate job, did not offer the added value of kindness, which caused him to lose business because of the social rumblings. We call it word-of-mouth marketing.
By the 90’s, with the inception of the home computer, we had found multiple new ways to connect. From the early BBM boards, to the myriad choices we have today in social networks, live streaming, and virtual reality.
We humans simply want to connect. The need to connect to one another is intrinsic: for some of us… it’s a vital life line.
Today our word of mouth marketing is amplified and expanded by our use of social media. We can now do business around the globe. Thanks to video chats we can even get to know those who may be thousands of miles away!.
Starting in 2011, we began in Google+,with groups of up to ten in the early video chat format Hangouts. We have been party to concerts, presidents, book and album launches and even been to the Space Station.
Our Canadian Astronaut, Chris Hadfield, sang and played his guitar in Hangouts and became a YouTube sensation.
Over the next five years, I got to meet so many amazing people.
The last Navajo code talker Chester Nez, who was 93 when I met him. Amazing to hear him be filled with gratitude for his live in spite of the hardship and conditions of war.
Getting to ask a question of John Grisham, during his book launch for The Racketeers; a question he said he’d never been asked before.
Chefs taught people to cook in their own kitchens.
Taylor Swift dropped a single in a Hangout. Will. i. am. gave a tour of his music studio.
The Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu got to be together via hangout for Tutu’s 80th birthday even though the Dalia Lama was not granted entry into South Africa at that time.
In 2012, I became a show host on the @BBPTVshow - where amazing guests talk about their digital adventures and more… I am currently preparing for my 100th episode.
Now, 2020 brings us into this time of quarantine and lockdown. Now more than ever our tribes are of great importance. Thanks to technology available now, we have a plethora of options, from Google Meet, Zoom, Facebook’s new Rooms and a wealth of live streaming apps that allow us to connect with our loved ones, our cohorts and our favourite companies. With schools closed and children needing direction, we have teachers and parents reaching out via video to help educate and entertain in these new formats. Well, new to those who do not make their living in the digital world. We are adapting to our new normal and in so doing, more and more are taking up the opportunity to be social, in a different way.
On the business front, I see social as a way to connect with your customers, to add their voice to the choices, the decision-making, and the day-to-day running of your business. It has never been easier to find out what your public wants.
Whether we call it social media, word-of-mouth marketing, or simply chatting with your neighbour; albeit at a safe physical distance, for now.
This being social, this sharing, amounts to the same thing: throughout time, we gravitate to those we know, like and trust We also do it when we are looking for the products and services we need and want.
And it’s never been easier to find out what your neighbors think of the shop at one end of town, or the other. We look to our friends, family, and business associates to suggest other people in business that we can learn to ‘Know Like and Trust’ as well.
This brings my story back to the original statement. -How social media saved me..
I have learned so much from my online world. From social media. So many of you are unsure. So many of you feel the same insecurities. No one is an island.
I realized I was taking it to the extremes when I began getting in my own way. I love speaking. I love sharing with the audience and seeing people nod and get the reference, get excited about the subject matter.
I’ve sabotaged myself so many times. I look at the good speakers, many of whom I know. they speak everywhere, and they're not fat, (there I finally said it) I then start spinning out of control on all the reasons why I don’t fit in… Can’t possibly fit in. Should not even put my hat in the ring.
I know some of you are saying that's nutz, you know your subject inside and out. What does how you look matter?
I know it’s NUTZ!!!
I know it's in my head. Mostly I know it’s in my head. This has always been the thing that stopped all momentum cold. And every single time I thought I’d gotten past it.
I would often force myself through anyway. Things always turned out okay, ( NOTE: OK. NOT the amazing life I could be leading.. An O-K life.. Safe in my cocoon of silly!)
I'd come up against this, and in my head, I’d do the negative talk---. You don't look like them. You can't do that. You didn’t go to University… blah blah blah
Each time I found myself facing the monster, again, I was shocked. I thought I had gotten over the hurdle last time. I thought I was now secure in the knowledge of my expertise. I‘m no dummy. I would chide myself. And I’d think “I DO know I have a lot to offer” and “I thought I had crossed this bridge already!”
I think I believe in myself only as long as I’m alone in my office, seen on video: well partly seen.
And I know that people don't run screaming, so I'm not hideous or horrifically ugly. I tell myself to “Stop being so damned conceited because nobody really gives a shit what I look like,” they want to hear what I am saying.. The expertise I’m sharing when I'm really trying to serve people.
All of this churning round and round in my head. Over and over and over and sometimes, it creeps up at the oddest times. Like my inner nasty trying and often succeeding in keeping me playing small. Keeping me from really soaring.
I need to get the hell out of my own way!!
This has been a long time coming. It's been a decade of firsts, and lasts, and oh damn why didn’t I’s
The massive change has really been in the past eighteen months. As I have been sort of coming to these conclusions, there is excitement. An internal hum and its like things are shifting inside too.
It’s also been hugely eye opening! Whatever I call it. This awakening… This commitment...This new me...it's OBVIOUSLY getting me on a cellular level. Look at me. I have zits for the first time in my life.
Holy Moly, I had a zit once on my chin, in grade 10. I didn’t go to school for three days. I almost had my mother convinced that she needed to take me to a dermatologist right away or I was gonna die. It was in my mind, like leprosy.
How stupid can you be, but again, that weird conceit. it is such a drag, it's so shallow. Realizing that all the stupid things that I'm putting in my way are so shallow and so unimportant -
This is AN opportunity....MY opportunity...
To share. For so long, I felt so self-conscious about my weight, and yet would never utter those words. Did I not realize the only one I was fooling was me? Taking on everything on my own, never reaching out to ask for help.. To ask someone to share the burden...
And the funny thing is, in all all of this over the years, me thinking I was so strong fighting my own battles, just doing it all on my own is actually stupid - smart people don't go it alone.
And damn it, I’m smart, I’m freeing myself from carrying this all by myself.
I’m saying thank you to my digital world, to social media for letting me in on the secret..the secret that everyone else seemed to know...
Everyone has doubts, fears, and insecurities and its ok.. Because we also have each other … My biggest lesson is that my tribe is there for me.. As I am there for them.
As I’ve been saying for years.. “Social media is a two way street.” ~ DUH!!! As of now I plan to travel it both ways!
In fact, I already started. I applied to speak at a huge conference last summer. The conference was in Europe, they were not necessarily looking for Canadian input: it was more about me pushing me, way, way out of my comfort zone.
It was the process of completing the application. and actually having to acknowledge my expertise in writing, that solidified the need for me to share this part of my story. With all the twists and turns, the doubt and fear and triumphs… because no one is an island and everyone has doubts, fears,. and triumphs that they may not have understood, or dealt with or in some cases, celebrated. What can you celebrate today?