Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Growing big

My good friend Julie shared a YouTube video of BrenĂ© Brown. I’d never heard of her before, but how could I resist someone who’s described as a “vulnerability researcher.” She talked about the critics in our lives, the people who rain negativity on us, even when those critics are ourselves. She’s my New Thing for today.

In blogging, there are the horrible critics – which I have not encountered, thank heavens – who write despicable comments online. Hooray, I’ve received none of those! I had enough of those with my Daily News columns. The hate mail, the nasty Letters to the Editor. But when I see the online comments on other Internet pieces, it’s almost enough to dry up any creativity and abandon the medium; it’s almost enough to abandon the human race.

But if you’re a glutton for criticism, you can find it easily. With blogging, it comes in the form of analytics. You get all sorts of information about your blog: how many people look at it, how many subscribe to it, how long they spend looking at it, whether they come back to it after the first time. This can become a compulsive habit. Are there more people reading than yesterday? Than a month ago? You can even find yourself checking the map where viewers come from and asking yourself, “Why isn’t my sister in Berlin reading my blog?”

Very soon, if you’re me, you say things like, “This is a dud. It was just an illusion that this could matter in your Third Third. It’s a dud. Let it die.”

And then, because I’m in my Third Third and have a personal history, I think back over Previous Duds I Have Launched. I’ve had so many that fall in one category, I’ve even given it a theme: my problem is Big-ness. For whatever reason, I’m missing the gene or the skill that grows something big.
I’ve had lots of ideas and realized many of them. They were good seeds, and they germinated and grew, but they didn’t become mighty oaks. When other people talk of fundraisers, for instance, they talk about the ones that raise a quarter million dollars for charity, and we just haven’t cracked those big numbers for the BizBee. Other people’s little drops become oceans, but mine somehow remain little drops. They’re fun little drops, and they do good, but Big-ness remains elusive.

Which brings me back to the blog analytics. Every now and then, there’s a huge jump in the numbers. That meant that someone posted the blog on Facebook and it got shared … and shared to the public, not even just friends. At first, I thought the analytics machine was broken. Those days make me feel really great. I receive lots of emails about how much people enjoy the blog – and the pictures – but numbers somehow mean it’s real, not just anecdotal.

But on other days, I think about the vast proliferation of blogs in the world, about how I’m practically writing a diary and how presumptuous to put it online and I should just keep it my little secret because it’s too embarrassing to put it out there for ten people. (Which is admittedly an exaggeration, but inner critics don’t worry about exaggerating.) And maybe it was just meant to be a novelty and soon people will just get tired of my adventures and those little pictures.

But if LOTS of people are reading it, that’s a different story. That means it has relevance, serves a purpose, translates as practically a public service to Third Thirders. I don’t have to feel so horribly, mercilessly, relentlessly exposed.

I guess I’d better watch that BrenĂ© Brown video again. I seem to have missed getting the message. In fact, right now, at this very moment, I’m planning a replacement blog post for this one:
Or we can try a little experiment in blog analytics. Please share your favorite Our Third Thirds post – you can find it in the Archives. On Facebook or social media, make it public, not just to your friends, so it can be shared. Call it an experiment: Can Big-ness happen?


  1. I like doing little things well. It keeps it personal, it touches people. I think your are wired to be a public service announcer!
    I enjoy your posts; so real life.
    Please don't replace.


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