In a recent blog post, Seth Godin stated that: “The only reason to build a website is to change someone.” Really? My first response is–I very much disagree. First, what gives me the right to try and change someone? This has to be sales at its worst: Manipulative and Self-Oriented.
So maybe I misunderstand Godin’s meaning and intention? Perhaps I’m reading too much into his statement or reading it too literally? I don’t know for sure, I just now his statement “clanged” with me. The needle pegged on the BS side of the meter. It reminded me of the joke about the newly married couple who both had the attitude of “I love you just the way you are. Now here’s how I want you to change!” That, I’m sure, was a short-lived relationship. Since business is about relationships, trying to change you is very counter productive.
I have no doubt that Seth reads my blog every day and will see this – (right!) So Seth, the following is NOT meant to change you or your mind about what you wrote. I like that you finished your blog post with a plea to be true to your own message, be bold and willing to make a stand and when evaluating your website and/or blog, preemptively “Answer your visitor when he asks, ‘Why am I here?’ ” This part is good because it is focused on your reader/visitor, not on you. The minute I’m focused on changing someone, I’m back to being focused on me. And because I’m trying to change the visitor, as opposed to informing and letting them decide if they will change, I’m practicing abuse.
This, of course, started me thinking – Thank you Seth. What is the purpose of my blog? Why do I engage in Social Media posting? Am I trying to change my readers/followers? Good questions. I think I have to be as frank with myself as with my readers. I do believe I’m simply expressing my thoughts – some of which have changed due to interaction with readers and some which I have not found reasons to change. There is a part of me that takes pride when someone responds with an acknowledgement that what I have said, or an article I’ve posted has caused them to pause and perhaps even change the way they thought about a topic. I also enjoy when I get those “right on!” comments showing that the reader agrees with my point of view. I’m only human. It’s great to be validated.
In my experience, people “love” change – if they initiate it. Conversely, they “hate” change – if they feel it’s being forced on them. They reject change if they feel it’s manipulative and many become passive aggressive. I like working on the premise that every person, every sentient being, has inherent worth and dignity. That means nothing is broken. So what right do I have to ask you to change – UNLESS it’s to achieve my own goals? How does that build the relationship? How does that build trust between us? In my opinion, it doesn’t.
So let me go on record. Let me make this very clear to my readers and followers. I intend to share ideas. I am open to discussion and dialogue. I make no promises that I will let you change my mind, but I am definitely open to being influenced by you to make the changes myself. I promise you that I, like most people, bristle at “being” changed by outside forces, but I’m quite happy to make changes myself. I do not use my website, blog or social media posts for the express purpose of changing my readers. Instead, it is about changing myself and gaining clarity through writing and expressing my ideas. If, along the way, YOU dear reader, find something in my ramblings that makes you re-think long held positions, or new insights and change your own world views, then I’m pleased to have been of help. Changing you is not my goal however. I have enough work to do on my own growing edges, I don’t need or want to take on yours!
Here’s what I’m up to. I’m committed to intentionally “creating a better world one leader at a time.” Obviously, that will require lots of change. Since I can’t change you or other leaders, how do I expect to live out my intention? By sharing knowledge and ideas with leaders, by coaching (coaching without permission is abuse) and by using technology to enhance both sharing and coaching. This is like meditation: If I “sit” with the intention and expectation of meditation, it is highly likely I’ll not have a very good session. If I communicate with the intention of changing YOU, I will very likely fail. Who said this was easy?