The following is a guest post from my friend Laura at 10 Million Miles. I have struggled with balance in 2011. This is such a great reminder to me as I look ahead to 2012. Thanks, Laura!
I happen to have a strange soap-box. It's a random one, but I just can’t get over it. I like to preach to college students about going to their professors’ office hours. Remember office hours? They were typed at the top of the syllabus that you received at the beginning of each semester. And, if you were like me, they were promptly forgotten. I spent my entire collegiate career not going to office hours. Instead, I spun my wheels in the library trying to write “A” papers, and get all of the right answers on the next multiple-choice test. I was so focused on getting good grades, that I didn’t have time to trek across campus for a long conversation with my teacher. Meanwhile, a handful of wise peers were carving out time to meet with the professor, ask good questions, gain meaty answers, and mature as individuals. Whether or not their grades trumped mine, their personal growth sure did. Boy, did I miss out on the secret of success.
But the thing is, I didn’t know that it was the secret of success until I was a college instructor typing my own office hours at the top of each syllabus and waiting eagerly to lead some struggling student toward everything good in life. The kids who came to my office won my heart! I looked out for them and wanted them to succeed. They were the students who seemed to grow the most throughout the year. Sure, they usually received good grades, but more than that, they received an adult’s insights, good advice, and professional support. It’s easy to see now that personal maturity is always more important than making the grade. The two only come hand-in-hand when the student really cares about her growth as an artist, thinker, and human being. There’s just something about going to office hours that keeps a student and a professor human, instead of results-focused automatons. So, I’ve preached this good word to every college student I can.
These days, I’m no longer a student, but a blogger. And yet, I’m still not over the temptation to become an automaton. I’ve just replaced the struggle to make the grade with the struggle to make money, increase readers, and establish a powerful social media platform. Though a check in the mail and a faithful following of readers are both fine, I become personally stagnant when they are my sole focus. As it turns out, my seasons of blogging-happiness are when I focus on my personal growth, and let it fuel the growth of my blog.
Blogging is only worth my while when I take myself to my own office hours, ask hard questions, and formulate some answers. This means, my blog is an avenue to personal growth – not to money, fame, or power. In light of this, I’ve become pretty cut-throat about my blog; if it doesn’t offer a sweet personal return, it gets bumped. I expect my blog to improve my writing skills, develop my voice, and make me a more honest person. I expect it to help me think twice about my opinions, and five times about my facts. I expect that the feedback from my family, friends, and enemies makes me confess, buck up, or move on. I expect myself to meet other people through my blog and learn how to love, respect, and communicate better. If I’m only cranking out blog posts “to make the grade” and not to grow as an individual, I’m missing the sweet spot.
The most important thing about your blog is you. How are you growing on the other side of that screen?
I want to keep growing, and I want to encourage you to do the same. That’s why I’ve written a new eBook called “Blogger Behave: Make your blog benefit your life so you can love both!” My deepest desire is that it helps bloggers and non-bloggers alike to write with integrity and without regret. Would you like to read it? Just go right here to get started.