Why I contribute

For those of you who don’t know me, this blog is just one aspect of what I try to do in terms of community contribution. I also engage in discussion with various people I’m connected with and share knowledge – either through formal ‘user group’ events or by staying connected with people I meet. I’ve also spoken at various conferences over the years, and co-moderated a panel series segment (alongside the wonderful Ashley Steiner!) for a couple of years. I even contribute articles to our company blog over at C5 Insight.

As many nerds do, I like to keep track of things. A while back I started tracking community contributions I was making and where. Recently I tallied those up to see what all I’d done. I looked back to the start of this blog and realized I’ve averaged over one engagement of some sort per week (not literally weekly, but all total – over 52 posts, panel discussions, speaking engagements, YouTube videos, etc. dating back 12 months)!

An average of once per week made me raise my eyebrows a bit as it felt like a fair amount. I reflected back on some of those posts and sat a little straighter when I did. There are many who do WAYYYY more and I adore them for it – it’s not always easy putting content together. But for what started out as a way to get things out of my own head and to give back to others in some small way, I am proud of the number!

An acquaintance of mine reached out to me one day and during our chat he commented he appreciated one of my posts from months ago and thanked me for putting the content out there. This got me thinking about why I put content together. I thought I’d share what I came up with…

Pay It Forward

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been helped by someone else. Either directly or via a blog, video, presentation at a conference, or even social media engagement. I’ve solved problems, been inspired to try something new, learned new information, or felt validation as a result of someone else’s post. I happen to be fortunate to know that things I’ve put forward have been a help to others because those people have reached out directly and said so. That’s a damn good feeling. I’d like to think that for every one person that reaches out to say so, there are others who do not (totally fine!), so, the reach is bigger than I even know.

It’s not about hearing it was helpful, it’s about making the content available for people to review and use as they need knowing full well we may never understand the benefit it brings.

Creating Brain Space

Every bit of knowledge that gets stored in my brain takes up space. I know I forget things I should know and it’s because I’ve replaced it with something new. Putting my knowledge/thoughts down “on paper” helps me keep track of my own knowledge, identify gaps in that knowledge, and makes room for more. I’m no brain scientist but it makes sense to me, so, I’ll go with it.

The more I share, the more room I have to learn.

I Enjoy It!

This one is pretty simple – do what brings you joy. If you enjoy something, do more of it. No, really, that’s all I’ve got for this one.

It Pushes Me

I may enjoy it, but that’s not to say it’s easy. It takes time, energy and effort. Sometimes I want to write about something but I realize I need to give it more thought or do more research. Ever heard the saying “no better way to learn something than to commit to teaching someone else!”. A lot of truth to that, let me tell you.

It also gives me something to focus on, but there is an interesting balance to be struck here. When I was in a role that was really hectic and stressful, I lost motivation to contribute because it started to remind me of the work that was stressing me out. That wasn’t fun, and instead of a motivational push, it was a ‘push-away’ push. Ask anyone who knows me well – I’m a massive advocate for life-work balance. While I don’t consider this work, it does take effort and if you are setting yourself deadlines and goals, there can be some stress in it. It’s important to take space for you, and not to let it rule you.

But I love the push to continual learn and evolve. We all know the pace of evolution of technology in general is blazing, so there are always new things to pursue. For someone who likes to fidget a lot, having something new is critical.

Those are my key motivators.

If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of sharing content – either writing a blog (doesn’t even need to be formal, make it a doc and share it socially), or sit on a panel discussion about a topic you enjoy, or any other form of content, I encourage you to put yourself out there. There are NEVER too many thoughts and inputs.

Nervous about saying the “wrong thing” – I totally get it! Start with opinion pieces or share your journey – you can’t get those things “wrong” because they are yours!

Do you already share? I’d love to hear the reasons you contribute! Or, who are some of your favourite content creators out there? Name drop a few to help spread awareness of them!!

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

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