Blogs are great, aren’t they? They give you direct access to the thinking of people you might never ever meet. They can be informative, thought provoking, reassuring or inspiring. They can help you to learn something new, rekindle an old interest, or even spark a new craze. They can fire up your passion, bring tears to your eyes, or make you giggle out loud. Ever find yourself nodding vigorously in agreement with the writer? What a marvelous invention the blog is.
There’s a blog on everything under the sun
So when you’re blogging, what do you blog about? Your profession, your personal thoughts, your family, the state of the nation, things you’re excited about, or life in general? Or do you have a particular theme or topic you usually come back to? Is there a pattern to your blogging? What do you like to talk about?
And what’s the reason you blog? Have you ever thought about that? What drives you to your keyboard and motivates you to open up that document? Is it to get something off your chest, to vent your frustration, to retaliate, to air your thoughts, to help others to learn, to help you learn, or to share what you know? What makes you punch those keys for a good twenty minutes or more and then hit the publish button with a flourish?
Your blog is a mirror
You see, your blog is a reflection of you. What you say, how you write, and why you write is a written version of how you talk, how you think, and how you feel. You cannot not communicate, and whether you realize it or not every word you type, every sentence you construct, and every paragraph you pen, every blog you post provides your reader with a wealth of information about you – about your motivations, your thoughts and your feelings about yourself and others.
There are lots of leaders out there posting blogs – CEOs of large corporate organizations, thought leaders (whatever that means), leaders in education and other prominent professions; leaders who want to share their experiences, their knowledge, and their opinions, leaders who want to help others to learn from their experiences or from their mistakes. You know the ones don’t you? Leaders who have years of experience, who’ve been highly successful and want to pass on what they’ve learned. Leaders who argue they have a coaching style, who state they like to ‘grow’ and develop other leaders, leaders who claim to be democratic and affiliative. And their blogs often give you lots of clues about what type of leaders they really are.
Look for the clues
So what does your blog say about you? Does it show you as an opinionated know it all or a curious and collaborative learner? Does it communicate your passion for helping others discover, or does it show an underlying tendency for command and control? Does it encourage your readers to find their own way, or does it tell them what to do because you say so? Does it make your readers feel stupid, inexperienced and inadequate or powerful, energized and full of hope?
How can you tell?
Here are a few questions to help you to think more critically about the blogs you read, and more importantly the blogs you write.
- Do you develop others thinking by posing questions, or do you tell them how it is?
- Do you give them all the answers, or do you encourage them with your writing to find their own solutions?
- Do you trust them to form their own opinions or do you tell them what to think?
- Do you push them to think about what they can achieve themselves or do you tell them what you have achieved?
- Do you invite feedback and different opinions or do you state that your way is the right way?
- Do you use questions to provoke thinking or do you use statements to tell the reader the way it is?
- Do you write warmly and invitationally (and yes, I have just made up that word) or are you cold and factual?
- Do you give opportunities for your reader to reflect or do you bombard them with your beliefs?
- Do you make the readers learning easy or do you hog the stage with your personal anecdotes?
- Do you offer your reader ways to explore their own thinking or do you tell them what to think?
- Do you give your reader salient points and allow them time to process or do you control your reader’s attention by rambling on for pages and pages?
- Do you use the personal pronoun ‘I’ more than you use ‘you’?
Walk the talk
So whether you’re reading or writing a blog, you might like to think more critically about how it’s written and the information it conveys. Can you be more curious? What is the writer really saying?
Blogs are more than just the topic, more than just being able to talk the talk – blogs can tell you if the writer is walking the walk as well.
Are your blogs congruent with who you say you are? Does the way you’ve written your blog match the type of leader you say you are?
As the famous quote from Lao Tse says,
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”