Ellen Watkins: 3 Life Changing Results from Writing for the OI Blog
The simple email announcement came across my desk. All kinds of thoughts raced through my head and I considered all aspects of it in a matter of seconds. Do it! Don’t do it. Ack! Reach out and try. Move beyond your cube walls. This is an example of what you’ve been looking to do. What happens if peers and current leadership find out? What will it bring? What will it hurt? You’re not good enough. You are good enough. What will you say? You’ll figure it out somehow. And, in a split second I made a gut-decision and said yes to being one of the first contributors to the OI blog.
I created success within my teams and within our global organization, but this was different. It was pushing boundaries I hadn’t yet pushed. But, I knew I needed to for my own growth and experience, and for the right to say, ‘I tried.’
We can talk about the gender gap, the pay gap, the inequality in the tech industry, but this decision honestly had nothing to do with any of those issues. It was my own calling, my own need to branch out and try something new that led to this decision. I’d been reading about ‘showing up where you are’ and ‘being generous with your knowledge.’ I also kept hearing this voice deep inside that I couldn’t shake and it was getting louder: ”create. Create. CREATE!” I said yes to honor all of these, and to try something new…because it was time and somehow I knew it mattered more than it showed on the surface.
What I didn’t expect and what I couldn’t have known is how that one decision would impact my life in positive ways. Here are 3 things taking that leap of faith and writing for the OI blog did for me over the last three years:
- Extended my comfort zone and built a new level of confidence. They say life extends beyond your comfort zone and I agree with that, but it sure did take courage to step in this space each month. I wrestled with doubt and insecurity, even though I knew my information and had been in the email, training, and coaching fields for 20 years. Talking to people and being visible was not an issue, but for some reason this was different. This was new to me, and it stretched me and brought up insecurities in ways I could never imagine or expect. And now, if I’m taking a new chance or writing for another blog, I frequently look back to these first few experiences and see how far I’ve come and the positive results from this experience. Tip: Take the leap, even if you’re scared.
- Recognition and new opportunities. Many times, people will start writing for a blog in order to pursue a higher level position or create more success in some way. And, yes, these did enter my mind eventually, but it was not the original intent. It was however, a very nice benefit. I received some recognition at my current role, but the real recognition came two years after the first post. I was approached by an outside company for a Leadership position and I pointed to the OI blog posts as an example of thought leadership in my industry and field. Being able to show these posts, my thought process and communication skills provided an opportunity that became fruitful in many ways and has led to speaking opportunities and different job offers. Tip: Do it for yourself first and share your value, then the results come in their own time.
- Connection to self. What I didn’t expect from writing for OI was the connection to myself in deep and authentic ways, and how that led to opportunities I would have never imagined. I’ve mentioned the internal struggle and pushing my comfort zone. As I continued to push that zone and listen to the creative voice inside, it led to re-connecting to my creativity after pushing it down for 20 years. I started a project of ‘52 images in 52 weeks,’ and started blogging about that experience. I also wrote an inspiring children’s book about trying BIG adventures. This ultimately led to speaking engagements and workshops talking about creativity, connection and change and helping other achieve their big projects. I’ve learned that when we connect to ourselves in authentic ways, we impact those around us in positive ways, and they take that forward to their circles. And, THAT creates something bigger than we originally imagined. That has been an amazing experience on so many levels and fuels the next phase in my life and career.
You never know where taking that chance, stepping WAY out of your comfort zone and using your voice will take you. It can lead to several amazing things… and looking back… making this gut-decision and taking this leap is one of the defining actions that led to where I am today.
For those in the OI community who have considered writing for OI, speaking at a conference, or just generally stepping up and beyond your desk and cube, I’m here to say, ‘DO IT!”. Do it for the experience of pushing your boundaries beyond your expectations. Do it to identify those fears and push past them. Do it for the visibility and to see what happens when you put your thoughts and experience into the world. And, do it most of all for the connection to self and how you can impact those around you in positive ways.
Ellen Jenny Watkins is an engaging, powerful Speaker, Author and Artist who empowers busy professionals and entrepreneurs who feel stuck to ignite their creative spirit, connect to the important people in their lives and implement their big ideas. She is a published author, main stage conference speaker, and global facilitator.