I think there are a few reasons why it’s important I wrote about my situation this morning and that I keep doing so as things shift and change, not just leap to “and suddenly it all turned round and I stand before you, a glowing success”. If I’d jumped from landing in California to pootling around the East Coast, you’d have felt cheated wouldn’t you?
1. We can make things better if we talk about what’s really going on. I was musing with a good pal yesterday that we’re living through a white-collar 1979. I keep thinking of Boys from the Blackstuff. We’re slowly waking up to the fact that our economy isn’t going to be based on the same things we’ve come to take for granted and we’re going through the same stages of shock, denial, anger and frustration. At the moment, people who are struggling think it’s just their own story of finding things difficult, because of their industry, their poor education and career choices, their personal ambition to do something more fulfilling than maintaining a brain-dead bureacracy. But haven’t you heard? We’re all in it together! Look back at The Blackstuff. See men isolated from their families and from each other – we have a chance to do something different, we can talk to each other across the world, but it will only help us if we’re willing to talk honestly about how we’re feeling, what’s actually going on, where our mistakes have been, when we think we’ve failed.
2. If people don’t know they can’t help. People want to help. All that stuff about social capital while I was travelling – that’s what I’ve built up and doubtless you have too. Bonds with people that mean when they hear things aren’t so good, they rally round.
3. It really helps to know that others have been there too. But I didn’t find out nearly so much about other people’s low points and failures until I started talking about my own. It’s not done, especially in this country. I am having a bit of culture shock coming back after a month in the USA. But it’s culture shock that I’m used to, it’s a bit like when I walk down North End Road after a day of being socially active on the web for an extended period. The culture I enjoy being part of isn’t just American, it’s one of the cultures of the web. I want to hear more from the people who say “I’ve been exactly there too, I’ve felt a failure and not known what was going to happen next” and then I want to hear what did happen. That’s why I’m still writing.
4. Allied to that I don’t want to lose too many bits of the story to rationalisation and the benefits of hindsight. I think we could learn more about enterprise, organisation and ourselves if we got rid of the case-study approach to education. Pick a success, ask people involved to reflect on why things worked, construct a theory that makes it seem inevitable that it all worked out beautifully. Blogging lets you see the story unfold as it happens and go back and see the source material and the vital bits of context that were important at the time – it’s much more difficult to fool ourselves into thinking that there are simple, replicable formulae for successes.
5. The journey’s more interesting than the destination. And a zig-zag windy road is more interesting than a straight one. I do choose to live like this. I choose the ups and downs and learning and expanding and pushing the boundaries over a supposedly safe and secure straight line to retirement. To me, believing that I’ll be doing roughly the same thing for the next 20 years would be like spending a day in San Francisco and just getting a plane to New York. it’s the search, the not knowing that makes it worth doing.