Thursday, February 27, 2014

Of Being Important

This week I was mentioned in an article by Family Tree Magazine as one of the "40 Social Media Mavericks" that new people should get to know.  I don't usually get mentioned in things like that because I don't have time to be on social media full time.  In the family history community there are a lot of hobbyists who are retired, or stay at home moms who become the most prolific, go-to, stay-on-top-of-every-news-item people.  And there are the people for whom genealogy news *is* their business.  Those are usually the Mavericks who get mentioned.  I try to get my message out there over our various social media channels, but I'm also trying to do other things in the genealogy space--run a chart printing company and write books.  And that creates what sometimes feels like a vicious circle.  I've felt really stuck that I can't get the message out about what I am doing effectively and still do the job effectively. I think that is true of alot of small companies.  So thank you to Lisa Louise Cooke as well as Alison Dolan and Diane Haddad, the editor and publisher of Family Tree Magazine.  I really appreciated your acknowledgement of what we do when so many days are hard work and the normal uphill battle life gives us. And I know the other people caught in the wide net you tried to cast were appreciative too.

It made me stop and think about how we are all seeking acceptance in this world.  Even more so now that we are all looking for a few more +1s, comments, or likes.  In some ways I think social media has made us all 13 year olds again, looking for that acceptance from our peers and basing our self worth entirely too much on what other people think of us.  I happened to catch a few minutes of an interview last week--I think I was in the Dr's office, sorry I can't cite where-- and Oprah was being interviewed talking about loneliness and being validated by other people.  She said the most brilliant thing.  She said of all the interviews she's done over the years--politicians, movie stars etc, almost everyone would lean over after the interview and say "Was that ok?  Did I do ok?"  I found that to be astounding.  EVERYONE is looking for validation in this world.  And EVERYONE deserves to be validated.

I saw a wonderful TED talk this week about how to make those connections.  It has made me think. You need to watch it.

There are lots of lists.  Like everyone else, I worry about what lectures of mine are accepted, what events I'm invited to, who mentions me in an article, and how many people are on my social networks and who opens my newsletters and how many people come to my websites.  If you are a hot shot in all those areas now, just wait, you won't be in the future. Life moves that way.

Those are where the most important and long lasting connections are.  Everyone deserves to be validated but the world doesn't have the time or focus to validate anyone for very long.  But, if you don't have a grandmother or a mother who thought you were wonderful, I hope you have a spouse or a child, a sister, a brother, a niece, a nephew, or a grandchild.  Those are the connections that last.  That is where the long lasting acceptance is--probably because they are stuck with you and most people work to make those relationships good over the long haul.  In college I remember hearing about a parable (again--no chapter and verse--this is the blog post of missing footnotes).  It was about a dragon slayer who went to work every day to slay dragons out in the world, but came home to their family every night.  The family bound up the dragon slayer's wounds and healed them for the next day's battle.  Those family relationships, those treasured family stories that give us self esteem, those are the places we find those healing balms.  I think those are the real places that we should be worried about who we are and what people think about us.

On Twitter this week I mentioned that I've been working on ferreting out the fears that hold me back.  Like everyone, I fear not being accepted, and I also fear social networking taking up all my time.  I am so so thankful for this recognition.  It has made my load much lighter.  But I'm also going to make sure I spend enough time with my family today.  I love you all.  I LOVE this genealogy community.  It has been a blessing in my life to have so many wonderful friends here.  But my real worth lies at home.  And so does yours.


Unknown said...

What a great post, as some one who works full time and tries to keep up with family and home, I can really appreciate how you feel. I often feel pressured, thinking I haven't written a post for over a week, or answered those inquiries re family tree. Refreshing to realise I am not on my own

Biff Barnes said...

Congratulations, Janet, you “social media maverick”!
Thanks for sharing the truly difficult challenges of running a small business in a social media-driven world. The feelings you described were so familiar. Nancy and I talk about them all the time. How do we get the word out about what we do? You have to be on social media – blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest – argh! And what you post must be quality content, which takes more time than most people think. Where do we find that time while helping clients by editing, designing and working with a printer to publish their books, which after all is our primary business?
Your words were a reminder that it’s not just us. Knowing that the things you’re struggling with are the same problems people you like and respect are grappling with is somehow reassuring. You know that if you keep doing the best you can, things will work out fine.
What’s important is having a community of family and friends to remind you of that when you need to hear it. Thanks for that reminder!

Alex Daw said...

Wow. Strong words. Thanks for the TED Talk. I found it fascinating...particularly her words about sad that in the process of numbing grief or fear or pain we end up numbing all the other good emotions too. Great stuff. We are an interesting species aren't we?