Courage and blogging

courage and blogging

Many years ago (and I do mean MANY!) I received some exceptional feedback from my boss during my first annual performance review.

“You seem to work very hard to be liked,” he said.

“Well I guess so,” I responded. “Doesn’t everybody?”

“Not necessarily,” my boss said. “In business, trying to please everyone can be exhausting. I would rather be a person who is known as fair all the time instead of a person who is liked all the time. If you are always liked, what are you risking, what are you achieving?”

This feedback hit me like a ton of bricks. It led to a long period of introspection and self-discovery. Why was it so important for me to be liked? Was I so much different that everybody else, and how was that impacting me in the business world? In my personal life?

I determined that it probably had something to do with seeking approval from my parents and as I resolved these issues over a period of years, I became a more confident and centered person. Of course I am still a work in progress (and always will be) but without question I am a better father, a better consultant, and a better teacher if I focus on “being fair” instead of hinging my self-worth on “being liked.”

I also think this has made me a better blogger.

Last week, Lori Ruff asked me why I seem to be able to think differently on my blog, why I write about things that other people don’t write about.

Here’s the curious thing. Every time I take a different view or state a bold opinion on {grow}, many people will comment or tweet: “I was just thinking the same thing!”

So the irony is, I don’t think differently from other people. In fact, LOTS of people think the same way I do. The difference is, I’m putting it in writing.

As I help people with their own blogs and social media presence I have come to believe this to be a significant issue, To stand out, we need to be original and to be original I’m not sure you can always appeal to everyone.

As my boss wisely asked, if you are trying to be liked by every person, what are you risking? What are you achieving?

Maybe the “special something” of blogging is “courage.” As I think about it, I would definitely point to “courage” as an attribute of some of my favorite bloggers.

If you didn’t have to worry about “being liked,” but focused on “being fair,” how would that affect your approach to creating content? Is that a difficult shift? Courage and blogging go together.

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  • Claudia Dahinden

    Thank you for this post – I totally agree! It took me a long time to learn that one – if my goal is to be liked by everyone, I am limiting my message – I will not do the things I was meant to do, out of fear. It’s a good feeling to know I won’t implode or vanish if others don’t like me or don’t agree with everything I say. I still prefer being liked, but most of all, I prefer being myself, saying what I think is mine to say, to post, to do. AND it’s more fun :-)!

  • Hey … I still like being liked too : )

    I agree that having a little discussion out there is a whole lot more fun than just going along with the echo chamber!

    Thanks for taking the time to comment Claudia.

  • Bob

    Mark, Your statement that you may not appeal to everyone is very valid — on a personal level and on a company/brand level as well. Any brand that tries to be everything to everyone becomes diluted and stands for nothing.
    BTW, hope all is well. Have agreat 2014.

  • Herb Silverman

    Thanks for the encouragement today, Mark. You’re absolutely right, courage is definitely one attribute. Another couple of words could be frightened and brave. The main point is correct that I have to be focused on what I want to do, what I want to accomplish and what I have in my brain. (

  • What a good boss that was, to give you an opportunity to think about that and grow as a person. And good on you for getting it. One must be teachable to be taught. I also like the connections you made to courage. Change requires courage, too. Good post on every level. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  • Patricia Haag

    Mark – There is a reason your blog is always my first stop of the day; you really do say the things that so many of us just think. I always find encouragement to think differently here. I don’t always post a comment, but just have to say “thank you” for your post.

  • “It is not good enough to be liked by everyone. You must aspire to be liked by the Good, and despised by the Evil.”

    – Some Sheriff of the Lu province, named Kung Fu Tze.

  • Thank you sir.

  • You certainly have the courage Herb. Thanks for commenting!

  • I was blessed to have a stream of good bosses in my life Pauline!

  • That’s awesome Patricia. Thanks so much for stopping by with those kind words.

  • Totally agree, Mark. Oftentimes, the blog posts that I’m most scared to publish are the ones that get the most traction. It takes courage to stick your neck out there and share your ideas – especially if they’re different or unpopular. But, if you do, that’s how you get noticed, build a tribe and create authority.

  • Hmmm. I’ll buy that.

  • I sure agree with that Laura! I have this little rule. If I am nervous about publishing something, then I DEFINITELY must publish it! That is really hard sometimes but like you, that is when I get rewarded.

    I even had angst about this post. In my head I can hear people say “What kind of a jerk would even claim he is a courageous blogger” but I just have to trust that enough people know me that my intent is to help and teach with a post like this. Blogging is rarely easy for me.

  • Berng unique matters!
    Thank you Mark, your courage is contagious.

  • That’s a great rule, Mark. I almost didn’t publish today’s post because I was VERY nervous about it. We’ll see if it pans out. 🙂

    I think we just have to remember our audiences and our vision. Those that know us will know our intentions are good. Those that don’t, may judge or hate. We just have to stay focused on the right people…and that’s the hard part.

  • Mark, I love the sentiment here. My concern: for bloggers or marketers, fair often takes you into treating EVERYONE fairly in a single public context, which means considering all of the edge cases as well (or maybe I’m just been snowed by the politically correct crowd…)

    For bloggers, I’d propose focusing on being honest and straight forward. Cut the caveats and corporate speak and never start from the assumption that the shiny object du jour really is pure polished gold.

    Then again, given the people that come out of the woodwork to say anything that doesn’t agree with their blinded-by-the-shiny-object view is bunk… terms like fair or honest may not be enough to change their ways.

    Again, love the sentiment and I’m with you!

  • One element of blogging to the world (potentially) is that there is that chance someone will disagree, and if they do will hopefully challenge you politely about what you have said (instead of just trolling).

    Having the courage to write it down and share it regardless is something that defines us as individuals and, as long as you show thought and justification then you are sharing something that others will be thinking and, as a result, read and hopefully share.

    Broad shoulders, thick skin and becoming stronger from those things that don’t kill us are all traits a good blogger will have, or should be willing to learn.

    No one’s interested in a ‘sitting on the fence’ opinion, they want to be challenged or read an article that is a bit provocative.


  • Nice one, Mark. It’s true that you can’t please everybody, so there’s no point in trying. And who knows, maybe some of the people who dislike you or what you have to say will at least stop and think.

  • abhi

    yess totally agreed.. bt it should also include determination and patience

  • abhi
  • abhi
  • Very sound advice.

  • Ha! That made me smile Dr. Rae!

  • Being a blogger can be hazardous to your mental health, especially when creeps start to come out of the woodwork. But it is generally so fun and rewarding. Despite the pressures sometimes, it is the most fun part of my job!

  • You know one thing about this community — it is almost ALWAYS civil. I’ve had 35,000 comments on the blog and have only deleted 7 for being over the top. A good track record.

  • I doubt it : ) I’ve always gotten along with people pretty well. Not too many people dislike me so far (that I know of!) Thanks Katherine.

  • No need to “buy” it.

    It’s a direct quote from The Analects. (I taught Kung Fu for three years…)

  • Michele @BrainSparkCnslt

    Great commentary on what it really takes (Courage) to put oneself out there for all to read. I would add (instinct) to that list, for if you listen from within you’ll always make a ripple.

    Now, if I only had a brain…..

  • This really resonated with me Mark.

    I think often people are afraid to give their own opinion on their blog for fear of reprisal comments – me included.

    That just leads to writing the same old stuff but in a different voice.

    It’s probably a difficult shift to make consciously but I’m going to take on board that “being fair” is the way to go!

  • Thanks for the great comment Michele!

  • Let me know how it goes for you Tim! This is not an easy thing.

  • Another good post from you, Mark. A blog without bold opinions is boring… By sharing your opinion, you won’t be liked by everyone, but by the people who think alike. There are some bloggers out there who have very strong opinions but often I don’t agree with their values. So I stopped reading their posts. But just because I don’t agree, doesn’t mean that other readers won’t… They will attract the right crowd for them. And I’m hoping to attract the right crowd for my blog.

  • The issue of values is important, isn’t it? That would make a good guest post — I don’t recall anybody writing about that nuance before. What is the role of “values” in choosing content to follow? How are values established? If somebody stumbled on to my blog, how would they what my values are, or is that important for every kind of reader? Is the values expressed by a blogger an important piece of the differentiation equation? Thought-provoking!

  • Is this an invitation for a guest post, Mark? 🙂 If so: challenge accepted.

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  • Aseem Jibran

    Awesome blog. Its all about courage.

    Alot of times, we get to hear from various individuals that they had exactly the same idea in their minds as soon as someone else present it to the world. So why didn’t they try and presented it to the world in the first place? The answer is courage.

    You summed it up really well by saying this: “So the irony is, I don’t think differently from other people. In fact, LOTS of people think the same way I do. The difference is, I’m putting it in writing.”

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