Thursday, December 31, 2009

5 years and 500 posts

I can't help but feel like I should have something big to say today. It's a little like stepping up to the podium and finding you forgot your notes at home - or maybe forgot even to make some notes. I've been blogging for five years. This is post 500. I knew it was coming, planned for it, worked for it, and now I need to say something.

What was I thinking? Most often, we ask ourselves that after we have done something surprising (and not in a good way). Today I am wondering what I was thinking when I started this blog. At the time, it didn't seem like a surprising thing to do - not even a major challenge. It seemed like one more way to use the web to carry on a conversation with clients and colleagues and prospects.

Five years ago I think I thought I was building a business, that I was doing the groundwork for something that worked the way businesses work. I thought that people would take our courses, give us referrals, that we would begin working in businesses and that we would find our way.

We have been finding our way but the path has been more winding than I expected, and it's maybe not the path I thought I was on, Looking back, it looks less like building a business and more like building a community. I want to say a community of learning, and it is - but it is learning in a much broader sense than I would have meant it five years ago.

Five years ago, I thought of adult education the way it is taught in Masters of Education programs and carried out in Continuing Education departments. I thought of taking courses as something people did to develop technical skills (for which they could be paid) or to pursue hobbies - as if the role of education was to allow people to build better collections of interesting knowledge. I thought education for adults was really about changing what they knew.

Now I think there is another way to think. I think that what we do is to work with people who are curious about how they know and how they get things done and how they could be more fully alive and aware and satisfied. I think of people who are intentional about the shape of their lives and eager to explore the great mysterious land of their whole self (mind and body, conscious and unconscious, spirit and personality).

We are a community because we share the value of being more fully awake and aware and more able to make choices about when we are intentional and when we go with the flow. We are also a community because we are all so different - we come with different perspectives, different skill sets, different fields, different experiences, and different dreams. Some of us get along, and some of us do not. We create interesting tension when we put all our ideas and attitudes together.

So this blog is now one way that I speak to a community that wants to grow. We want to grow as individuals and we want to grow as a community. I do not feel entirely like a founder (Chris started it, after all, and he was carrying on from someone else's start) and I do not feel like a leader. I do feel like I am learning what it means to create something human and dynamic. My role in the community is to look at each person and appreciate what that person brings to the community. Most often, I give up being personal so that I can see how each different person stretches the community and changes it and creates the difference that allows us all to be more aware - if we want to be more aware. Even the people who are choosing to be less aware change the fabric of the whole, creating new choices for everyone else.

Some of the community have a deep, real, joyful impact on me as a person. If you are reading this, you know who you are (if you think you might be, then you are right), and you know that I am celebrating what you bring to my life and my work. As a person, I am pleased and grateful and eager for our next connection.

As the writer of this blog, as one builder of this community, I have fewer plans and more curiosity than I had five years ago. I no longer feel that we can fail (as businesses can fail) - or even that we can succeed (we are not doing something with an end date). I feel, instead, that we can grow with intention and precision and awareness that we haven't had yet. And I look forward to seeing what comes next.

It's a new year. It's the next step on a long and winding path that twists and turns and climbs and sometimes, sometimes, offers the most breath-taking views.

Take a good look. Take a deep breath. Keep moving!

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