I work in social media and every day, I guide clients on how to use and be in social media to promote their products, services and offerings. We talk about how to use it, the risks and the benefits, how to maximize content, and together establish their brand voice for this space.
However, the irony in this is that it took me a while to find my own voice in social media. I wanted to be more active – trust me, I did – but I always found myself starting to write and then crumpling up the virtual piece of paper and throwing it in the virtual trash bin.
I knew that however I was going to participate, that it had to be honest and true. Yet, every time I started to write something, I felt bored with myself – or cheesy – or uninspired. And yet, this was the total opposite of the ‘real’ me. So how come I couldn’t get that to come across on paper – er, the computer?
Then I read a blog post a few years ago that quoted Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh (nicknamed Thay). Thay said that to be effective in leveraging social media for social change, “You must be part warrior, part artist, and part yogi.”
This defined me. 100%. And I hadn’t even really been looking for it. It just showed up one day, popping up on my Twitter feed. And from then on, it has really defined how I view myself and my role in social.
So here is my interpretation of what it means.
We Are Warriors. Whether you work to improve lives or make people’s breath smell minty fresh, we all are warriors in how we approach our jobs. We fight for our clients and we fight for our issues. We fight for budgets, for creative concepts, and for visibility. We compete for the best ideas and come up against great adversaries. We win some and we lose some. We mess up and wear our battle scars proudly, showing them off as evidence of what we’ve learned. We push the boundaries and draw lines in the sand. We fight for what we want. We fight for what we believe in.
We Are Artists. In social media, there is a lot of opportunity to create. Not only that, but we also co-create. Oh, and we re-create. We translate offline concepts for the online space. We negotiate obstacles and challenges to see ideas come to fruition. We are always thinking, creating, dreaming. We look for the next step in utilizing existing assets and we leverage communities to create new ones for us. We hungrily absorb the latest YouTube videos and we strive to be better than the latest video du jour. We collaborate with other artists and find new ones that are just emerging. We mash up and we disassemble.
We Are Yogis. This is my favorite. Because I think of the three qualities, this is the most unexpected and the least implemented. Why? Because it is the hardest. But the most important. We are yogis because we come to terms with losses and setbacks and injustices. We have to be impervious to negative feedback and commentary. Yet open and responsive to it. We have to take a deep breath when someone disagrees with us or shoots social media down as a fad. We have to be flexible to adapt to different clients and different campaigns. We have to learn to accept differences. And we have to learn to communicate with people on different levels. We have to find to our inner voice to develop our outer one.
I’d like to believe that I am part warrior, part artist, and part yogi. Or at least, that is what I strive to be.
This post was originally posted to Path of the Blue Eye’s WalkingThePath blog.