They say that as one door closes another will surely open.
Last year, after nearly 20 years of working in corporate communications for a major Canadian organization, the opportunities for meaningful growth and development were no longer available to me. Instead of severing my organizational ties outright, I opted to take a leave of absence from corporate life for a time to re-evaluate my professional goals and re-invent myself.
2017 is my year of sabbatical. I also call it my year of living dangerously. Not that I’m planning to bungee jump off of any high buildings or deep sea dive with sharks. The danger I refer to is stepping out of my comfort zone. I’m setting course on a journey to learn new things and get more actively involved in those things I’ve always been meaning to do but never seemed to find the time or courage to pursue – things like acting, singing, exploring new places or learning a new skill.
One such goal is mastering the world of social media. Despite being a trained journalist, experienced writer and all-round solid communicator, I realize that my understanding of the world of digital communications is woefully lacking.
Sure I was an early adopter of Facebook. I signed up more than a decade ago long before the social networking juggernaut began to squeeze out Myspace. But I wasn’t very active. I didn’t upload any photos and I didn’t post in News Feed. I was a creeper. My first friends were my children who were too young to sign up, but did anyway, and my nieces and nephews. I followed their wall posts, their statuses and liked their photos.
It was only in January that I signed up for Snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp. I could see that the world of communications had long been rapidly evolving and knew that if I wanted to master this dominant domain I could no longer sit on the sidelines. I was too late to the game to have my daughters teach me. To ramp up quickly, I had to immerse myself and get active in the arena. I found a course at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies that looked like it would force my hand.
One of the requirements for my Foundations of Digital Strategy and Communications Management program is to develop and maintain a blog over a 12-week period.
Yikes! How does one do that? What would I write about? Who would follow me? Who would care? All of these thoughts scrambled through my brain. But my biggest concern was about my personal exposure. It was like showing up naked to a meeting. People would see me – warts and all.
It’s all well and good to write about corporate initiatives or profile business leaders and be behind the messaging rather than the face of it. But to write about one’s self and share one’s inner most thoughts, that was a development stretch. That’s why I hadn’t been active in social media before – it was too revealing.
Yet, I’m a raconteur. I love to tell stories. I recount family lore to my relatives. I share anecdotes with my friends. I always have a story to tell or a message to convey. I once worked with someone who kept a log of SH*T Mary Lou says.
When I wailed to my family that I wasn’t an expert on anything, my youngest daughter said, “But Mum – you know stories. Here’s your chance to put [digital] pen to [virtual] paper. I’ll read it!”
And SpinMeister blog was born!
Here’s the thing. I believe we are all the masters of our own tales. I believe that by embracing our past, experiencing our present, and envisioning our futures, that we can each shape our own storyline. We each have our own chronicles to tell.
SpinMeister is The World According to Mary Lou. It will be a little bit of stream of consciousness and a little bit of dramatic monologue. Always, you will get a glimpse into the inner workings of my kinetic mind. I apologize upfront if this seems self-serving. My intent is to share insights that may expand others’ way of thinking.
When it comes to telling tales, I trust in three truisms – be genuine, be kind and be bold – dream big!
So sit back and see where this rambling mind of mine takes us. I hope you’ll stay for the journey.