Gertrude Stein Loves Social Media

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Social media in and of itself is meaningless.

Shocking declaration from a content writer and social media coordinator, blogger and everything the hell else I am.

The fact is there are worse things that go on and on in our daily lives that interfere with our freedom and self-determination and we love those things. We have a taste for whatever we can use more so than for the things that we can love.

Bear with me on this, because there is a beyond-Facebook point to what follows here. But, let’s get to social media and Facebook as a case in point: There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.

For me, social media is usually thought of as “good” for 5 reasons.

Reason No. 1—Social Media is good because it’s a tool. Not just something we can use but something we can love. As a bright shiny distraction, social media keeps me in touch with people and the thing I value most―relationship.

As a freelancer, social media gives energy and propulsion to mastery and purpose. That is, social media is effective for promoting ideas and plans, for career and evolving projects, for meeting potential clients and launching entrepreneurial initiatives.

I have often repeated that to me social media is underutilized by community development practitioners, counselors, therapists, healthcare professionals and healthcare entrepreneurs. Over the last 2 years, I have witnessed a huge change as these professionals have really caught on. Their relationships have grown hugely matching any and every sector out there.

For me, it begins and ends with relationships. I had a great conversation with a friend of mine, a passionate VP of sales and consultant with a radical web development company. He was telling me about how corporate was pushing for closings. While we sure did agree that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to close more deals, as we spoke we came to a couple of important conclusions.

  1. Closing a deal, like anything else, is not a magical occurrence because it does not exist in isolation, and cannot appear by sheer force of will.
  2. Before you can close, there is a full spectrum of actionable items you need to bridge.

The first and last item on the spectrum is relationship.

Reason No. 2—Social Media can be a veritable provenance of insight, creativity, and well-thought-out viewpoints. Setting aside Caturday and the millionth mention of Nikola Tesla, platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook obviously work for me and other freelancers.

The people I have met through social media have helped me shape my main goals and helped motivate me to move forward―in spite of conventional ideas of what success should look like. My connections and followers on social media have provided benefit and value as I pursue freelancing.

I’ve learned a lot and continue to as relationships grow.

They have inspired an upgrade of self as the new year approaches. Success for me has been hinged on becoming a person business, so to speak―not at all precluding being a business person, but in essence, running my life as though I am the brand.

After all,  I am the capital, I am the operation.

This is a season to explore a sort of economics of Self―an investment in functioning, becoming a think-tank of mission and goals; networked and affiliated, sharing and earning―not merely consuming.

It’s okay to be an artist and a guru, it’s also okay to acquire and accumulate. The seeds I have planted concerning the business I am into today and frankly, the business I am not into (what’s none of my business)—have begun to bear fruit. Even the iPhone pics of the food I cooked at home have provided dividends.

Reason No.3—Because Facebook allows me to stay in contact with the real people in my life, I am enjoying connections with friends, and family [of choice] without having to lie about “let’s keep in touch,” or about FaceTime and phone calls none of us will ever make.

If I had a dime for every time I said or was asked to keep the conversation going. Wow.

There’s at least one opinionated virago out there who’d be happy to tell you: This ain’t news, this ain’t special, interesting or Earth shattering. Like Gertrude Stein said, ‘Nothing will ever be more interesting than the American Civil War.’

Let the mossbacks say what they like—it’s none of my business. Truth is, I have known some of my Facebook friends―yes indeed they are Facebook “friends,” but they are actually genuine friends, too―going back to the age of 12. We’re in contact with one another because it’s the best way to keep in touch.

Some of the people that I know on Facebook, in fact, the biggest circle of people that I know in social media, are people that I’ve known since I was in my 20s. There are some people in social media that I’ve known from anywhere between 5 years to just a few weeks. Or less.

Reason No.4—My social media presence is evolving as I evolve, and as social media itself evolves. It truly is a journey.

I began freelance writing as a generalist. I was told to find a niche and I organically grew toward creating content for websites and work as a social media coordinator. This wasn’t just something that happened overnight. But being no great fan of irony, I had to make an exception because as I niched down, I expanded my competencies. All because I value relationship building.

This is what happened as a result of nurturing relationships: A potential client and I connected over Skype for a 30-minute meeting. His website content was sparse and poorly written. He wasn’t a writer and didn’t want to be a writer.

We ended up talking for almost an hour and a  half. It wasn’t all business. Not directly. We were getting to know one another as people first, as business associates second.

Then he asked, “How can you expand on what you’re already doing?”

So, not being a fan of irony, I am a huge devotee of the epiphany. The ah-ha moment. The proverbial lightbulb over my cartoon head. The end result of our conversation was that he saw an appropriate fit and hired me as a Social Media Coordinator.

Expanding competencies.

Reason No.5—Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense. ― Gertrude Stein

There’s a lot of noise on the Internet.  The noise is part of the two biggest challenges that you and I face.

The first is to not allow our best moments and our momentum to get rerouted by every single great idea that pops into our heads.

The second is the closely related Bright Shiny Objects.

I use my Mac’s Stickies, Notes, and Text Edit apps. When I get an idea, it goes on Stickies. If later in the day it seems not too excessively insane, it goes on Notes. Then, if it’s not just another bright shiny distraction, I look into it further.

Some ideas are awesome ideas but they’re not for me. There’s the issue of what resonates and what integrates. If it isn’t fundamental to my process, or can’t become part of the mix, I cannot waste my time on it.

Then there are the pure, unadulterated Bright Shiny Objects. I have mixed feelings about these. Nowadays, I allow myself a short amount of time for them. In the past, I could really mess up my flow, the efficiency of my entire day.

It’s 9:00 a.m., I’m having coffee and researching an article and before you know it, it’s lunchtime and I haven’t written a word. Chasing squirrels is a Bad habit!

Well, not always. There have been frequent experiences where distractions led to discovery. Researching one topic has often led to inspiration, jotting another two or three ideas on Stickies, and honoring my process.

Best of all, allowing yourself to chase something shiny can lead to an introduction.

I consider it quite an honor to have connections on LinkedIn and Twitter with influencers and thought leaders. Maybe some of these relationships were inevitable, but if allowing time for the chase initiated a conversation then no harm no foul.

If we allow a small part of our day to be taken up by a bit of distraction we may find that it doesn’t automatically have to interfere with purpose and mastery.

Mastery is about living our lives in a more meaningful and fulfilling manner.

Purpose strives for achievement.

We are not our distraction. We are made up of countless traits, not just distraction or any other single characteristic or habit. Our daily purpose is to enhance the enjoyment of our work and our being. Work is only a part of our existence and will never to prove our worth.

Whether we’re multitasking, strictly focused, or totally distracted, we have enough fulfillment and purpose to carry us through. Social media engagement has been the capstone of my freelancing adventure.

And sometimes, we do need to disconnect on a whole mess of levels and just be still. Like Gertrude Stein said, ‘Everybody knows if you are too careful you are so occupied in being careful that you are sure to stumble over something.’

Stumble over your next blog topic, your next connection, the influencer or thought leader you connect and engage with. You have the mastery and the tools. Social Media is one of them. Love these things. Love them all.

 

Photo Credit: © 2016 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Best Blog Post About “Story” You’re Going to Read

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There are two kinds of story. There is external story. There is internal story. The more unrealistic and unreasonable you are perceived as being, the more external story there will be.

Do not be deceived. Your personal, internal story about you and the external story that others have about you will not match up. Not often. Not accurately. If you’re lucky you will come to appreciate the synergy between these two stories.

The simple fact of the matter is that there are going to be very few people who are going to connect positively to your self-narrative. Most people lack sufficient self-awareness to even handle their own story, much less be a dispassionate, fair-minded biographer.

That’s okay. As long as their story doesn’t interfere or create doubt about your story, there could be something to learn or something to let go of.

People will tell you your story anyway. When they do it’s an opportunity to check over your story and accept or reject what they say and then, well, story forth, as the old saying goes.

One external story I have heard from others is about passion. I seem to appear to be passionate to some people. Quite lazy and befuddled to others, but rather intense, amorous and excitable to most.

When it comes to passion, frankly I’m rather suspicious of it. Passion to me is  questionable, even disreputable―at least in relationships. Passion is unsustainable elsewhere.

If our relationship is hot, be prepared for it to cool off. If you have passion in business, as an entrepreneur, there better be other things you can scale quickly or adapt toward maintaining at a certain rate or level. Otherwise, you’ll both burn out and fade away. My my. Hey hey.

Passion is all very feel good on the ego. I’m grand and noble and have found my passion. I’m living my passion. Someone said, and they sounded very enlightened, too: “Take time to work through the process and know that, no matter what, you’ll be getting closer to where you want to be.” Why? Because passion.

Passion implies a burning fire and fires exhaust themselves. I may very well be intense, amorous and excitable, but I detest being exhausted. These days I’m not interested in following my passion, living my passion, finding my passion.

I’m interested in a commitment to action.

I wrote about this already, that I must have easily 100+ items on my to-do list. This week I am not going to get 100 things done. Not with 24 hours in a day. Not with all the passion in my Scorpionic stars.

I’m going to get things done because of my commitment to action. Just not 100+ Big List items.

When I ask myself the very calm question, “What 3 things do I need to accomplish that will guarantee this week will feel like a win?” it reins in the “passion” and directs it toward activity and away from agitation. It also highlights my problem with passion:

No matter what you think about passion―it’s about you. Your commitment to action is about others. Actionable steps in my day are about the service I provide as a freelancer. My commitment to action is about the people in my life and about making a difference in theirs.

Actionable steps are about providing benefit to your clients.

And here’s why I say this: Because I’m unrealistic and unreasonable.

This is, of course, an external story. And I’m fine with it because as an “unrealistic” person who has always made the “unreasonable” viable, I’ve come to value navigating through pain, interest and over to solutions and a good personal and professional sense of action.

I quote Derek Halpern a lot: Passion doesn’t pay the bills. Pain does. Find the pain. Offer relief. Get paid. Passion may help you feel good but it doesn’t do squat for anyone else.

Passion is a comfort zone issue. As Dr. Joyce Knudsen says, “A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there.” Get into the taking action zone instead!

I’ve always been unrealistic and unreasonable. Way the hell before I started freelancing.

The Is That It Is

When my Yia Yia passed away and my family was in Greece, after 6 months my parents rightly wanted to know what I was going to do. It was unrealistic to go to Paris and spend 18 months there. It was unreasonable to have spent 2 years in Europe. I did it anyway.

When I returned to my hometown of New York City, I went to CCNY. I was a Creative Writing and a Film major. I found a mentor in professor and poet Constantinos Lardas. Gus loved me and my writing.

He used to look at me with a disconcerting mix of pity and tender irascibility (you  may have to be Greek to understand that one).

One gorgeous May afternoon, I asked him as we walked toward St. Nicholas Terrace, “Gus? Is something wrong? You seem upset with me.”

“I’m not upset with you. I’m wondering what you’re supposed to do.”

I stopped and looked at him. “What do you mean?” His tone of voice made me nervous.

“You should have been born in the 18th or 19th centuries. You’re a poet and that’s all you’ll ever be. The world is not known for treating people like you very well at all and I’m worried.”

It was unreasonable that by mid-terms I was excused from all my writing classes for the remainder of the semester because I had already earned a 4.0 in those courses.

It was unrealistic that I would share the stage at university poetry readings with Amiri Baraka and Allan Ginsberg. Or that Gary Dourdan would back me up on percussion at readings in the East Village.

It was unreasonable that a tenured Columbia University professor would invite me to participate with MFA writing students, to read and share work when I was barely an undergrad. Those guys hated me.

My culinary career was unrealistic. I would head to China Town several times a week and walk into the manager’s office with product and a receipt to be reimbursed. I’d rush into the kitchen to exercise improvisational cooking like I had a Food Network show.

Totally unreasonable.

Moving to Las Vegas to “seek my fortune” was unrealistic. Finishing my degree and changing my career was unreasonable. It was unrealistic for me to attempt a Master’s degree.

In comparison, maybe becoming a freelance writer was practical and tenable after all. Whatever external story people have about me, in all honesty, I got stones, my friend.

I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid of the future. I can’t see it well because the darkness covers it. The future doesn’t make sense to me. But I’m not fearful of it.

What I’m afraid of is errors of perception. When I’ve screwed up (and yes, I have a litany of screw-ups), it’s always been because of an error of perception, an inability to see the “is that it is.” That’s something that belongs to me.

I was in a relationship, seems like several lifetimes ago, that I wrongly perceived as being detached and disengaged.

The error was that I perceived us traveling the road of life separately. Like we were on a road trip in two separate cars and that was interpreted as a misadventure, a tragedy, catastrophic.

I could not have been more wrong! I could not have been more immature, inexperienced, more maladaptive.

In Life the is that it is is that we sure as hell are in different vehicles and thankfully so! Even if we were conjoined, she still was not me, she still was an entity of my environment like I was for her.

This is a great thing―not a catastrophe. The only real adversity was the error in perception that ended the relationship and sent my life spiraling out.

If I’m here to facilitate your transition into a new life, or to be there in the capacity of a catalyst for the intelligible or the possible in your life, then I am damn proud that I could do that.

Did you learn something? Did you get something meaningful? Good.

My new life is about to begin. I can’t see it worth a damn. There are no navigational reference points. The sky is dark and starless. And yet, not one catastrophic tragedy. Just life in my environment in the is that it is.

Shakespeare said

There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures. 

In other words, Life moves like the tides and seizing the highest tide leads us to success. If we let the high tide pass us by, the voyage of life gets miserable. I’m put to sea on such a tide right now and I have to take life’s current as it’s offered. Or lose. But I will not lose. So don’t you be afraid either.

Live today as a life unto itself.

Live today with a focus on meaning-making. In psychology, meaning-making is the process of how persons construe, understand, or make sense of life events, relationships, and the self.

We gather information, we have experiences, we give them meaning, we form an impression, we act on what we believe we’ve learned. That is what it is to be human.

We then construct a life-world.

Our life-world is made up of all the immediate experiences, activities, and connections that make up our environment. Remember, anyone, anything, and anyplace that isn’t you is your environment.

When we grow in meaning-making and in our perceptions of ourselves, then other people, places, and things become intelligible to us, and all the darkness in the world doesn’t make any difference in our reality. Or on our internal story.

When I was in that Road Trip Relationship, my openness to and awareness of the world was what was darkened. The perception of traveling in separate cars down the road of life was unacceptable because it represented a threat to my life-world at the time.

The problem with the perception error I committed is that it did not coincide with reality and rather than accepting it as a challenge, I left.

And I began to focus on my internal story. I continued, in fact, to persist in being unreasonable. The voyage continues, with a dark and starless sky. With no sea monsters, no siren’s song. The story, no matter how unrealistic it seems, continues.

Appreciate the synergy