Day 1 of my holidays. I have not expected it to be so emotional! I am finding it difficult to stay away from my work commitments (yes, I did some of it;)) but I know that for the next two weeks I want to step back and take time for things I have put aside in the last 2 years. It’s interesting how every time I do it I navigate over to my work and rediscover the best bits of it. Today I had to admit a failure. Early in the day, I have been faced with the fact that someone I have invested a lot of hope, time and what I thought to be mentoring and mutual respect has used last few months to completely diminish those hopes. And if you know me personally you will also see the tragedy – I am really careful in investing my time in people and when I fail I hate to see them go.
Quite quickly I have recovered and spent a brilliant day with my son in Oxford – learning, enjoying British cinema, music, science, the city itself. With the morning failure at the back of my head, I have sat down in the evening to prepare for my next (and hopefully not last) round of Marketing Academy application: telephone conversation with one of the panelists. I love the fact that the web allows us to meet people before we talk to them in person so why not to make the most of it. I have time until the 10th of April so I need to meet the on-line profile of at least 3 people each day. Hence why I navigated to the speeches of Kevin Allen, Ben Bengougam and John Kearon – all of which provided me with perfect answers to my morning dilemma: why did I put so much hope and trust in someone who did not live up to my expectations in the first place? The on-line trust is till today one of the only measurement of people’s reliability but we – social media practitioners – know very well that it might take time but there are lot of people out there who manage to build up their profile and in reality after a short conversation completely diminish the image the value of their web shadow.
So why? Why did I make a mistake and why do I feel so strongly about it? I usually distrust people who are really kind on-line and fail me off-line or vice versa.
Ben Bengougham provided me with the first clue: “I am a business leader – not a person who needs to continue to improve their worth” he said (note: in a completely different context!). I think he might be right, but there are a lot of people out there who do feel the need to justify their position, job title or skills instead of actually showcasing them. And there is only one way to figure those people out – put them to the practical test. We prove to be a trust agent or fail. So maybe I did the right thing, but was my initial decision to risk my judgement wise at all? John Kearon had some answers to that (and even though he referred to PR and advertising I think it does refer to how we function): “We think much less than we think we think” […] “Content matters so much less than we think it does!” […] “The irresponsible is exactly what you need to do”, we need to “find our inner fool to engage with people emotionally”. Especially if you work in social media and social media marketing you tend to do that – so in a way I felt comforted by those ideas. And finally, Kevin Allen said something that made me understand my failure entirely: “No matter what it is you seek, at the core of your decisions is the rational bit, but when you connect your pure self you succeed”.
Maybe I do not know people well. Maybe I do give them too much credit. Maybe I am a bit too idealistic. But all of my current friends, colleagues and trust agents have been “recruited” into my life on the basis of initial trust, a little bit of credit and a great deal of time, work, mutual respect and quite a lot of trials on the way. For me this is the way forward and as long as I manage the risks well, I do not think I can function (both work-wise as well as personally) in any other way. My inner instincts tend to be sharpened by the nature of communication channels I am using and networks I am in, but ultimately it is the feeling you have when you sit down with someone over a beer, have a chat and grow, become a better version of your own self.
And as for failure, well, I take John’s word for it – and it’s not an easy lesson to learn: We “need to learn to love failure….lot’s of it!”