Mark Schaefer is one of my favorite online colleagues. We’re from the same town and run in the same e-circles, but have never actually managed to be in the same room at the same time. At any rate, his is one of the 3 or 4 blogs I try to catch up on each week. It’s a rare day that what he’s thinking (and writing about) doesn’t inspire some more thinking (and writing) by me.
This morning was no different.
Mark shared some thoughts about, well, happiness, joy, and big fat Klout scores. I’d love you to go read the whole post, but the essence was this:
Living in a joyful way is a challenge but one key idea is staying focused on the reason for your journey. If you KNOW why you are on your path, then you also have internal guideposts to lead the way. Stay focused on WHY you’re doing something.
But if your life is guided by external guideposts like Twitter followers, blog rankings … and even money … you might experience happiness but you will never experience joy because you will never achieve your goal. There will always be more, more, more to acquire. You won’t experience joy in the journey.
I was inspired to
hijack comment on Mark’s post and he responded that my comments made a good blog post all on their own. I kind of chuckled — it was a long comment — but then I thought, heck, maybe I should include my thoughts here.
What I said:
Your thoughts send my thoughts in about 14 directions. The inner perfectionist in me wants me to go create a gorgeously written comment. The joyful Pollyanna I’ve chosen to cultivate says, “Just say it.” So here goes…
(1) The anecdote about the guy who is so focused on a Klout score that he’s forgotten to live life made me sad. It reminded me of the guy I knew who spent his entire summer in front of Joust so that no one could bump him from the leaderboard. At the 7-11. In College Station, TX. What a way to spend a summer.
(2) Then I got a little nauseous about the guy cheating on foursquare. It reminds me of my son. He’s all about the cheat codes. Why solve a puzzle if you can “mod in the solution”? It’s baffling behavior to me. What is an “accomplishment” worth if you didn’t actually accomplish it?
(3) Then I did a little whoop yell of joy over your choice to keep your blog spam free. While I completely understand the desire (and need!) to monetize our online realities, I like ads to look like ads, endorsements to look like endorsements, and articles to actually be articles. Those lines feel like integrity to me. Living with integrity — and surrounding myself with folks who do — brings me joy.
(4) It’s true what that say about joy v happiness. Flourishing is all about getting in touch with our authentic inner self, identifying the gifts we bring, and following that internal path. Sometimes it feels awkward to change our focus that way, but, as you’ve so beautifully said, the reward is pretty wonderful.
Mark’s post and my thinking about Mark’s post has colored my whole day.
I’m wondering how I help my son see the benefit of doing some stuff the hard way. I don’t mean that it’s never okay to take a short cut or get help with something. I do know that those peak experiences we seem to want in our lives rarely come without some self-satisfying effort in pursuit of them.
I’m reevaluating my online presence and how I spend my energy here. It’s not a new thing for me, but I think Mark makes a good point when he underlines that it really is something you have to keep refocusing your attention on.
I’m integrating my reaction to his turning down a pile of cash for his endorsements within his posts into how I do business. It isn’t a new reaction, but it demonstrates to me what I’ve known for years — I want people to choose to spend time with me because it is good for them, I bring them joy, I inspire them, and not because I’ve talked them into it through some magic of slick marketing.
Yep, I’m doing a whole lot of thinking. And the really cool thing is that I’m pretty delighted with where I am and how I’m doing with all of this stuff. Of course I have tweaking to do! I’m the last to declare that I’ve arrived at peak perfection. But, I do think I’m solidly on my journey and am so very grateful for those thoughtful colleagues who are along for the ride.