I launched a new forum at the office this week. It’s called the Thought Leadership Forum. I know, it sounds clichéd, and it probably is. But that is the extent of the cliché. I’ve often felt frustrated at the lack of real life engagement about the many ideas and philosophies that I debate at length with myself on my blog wondering if any of it has any real life value. How much of it is simply idealism that entertains or encourages from time to time, versus how much of it holds practical value in helping others to rise above the lethargy that has become the hallmark of many lives these days?
So I decided to be bold (perhaps recklessly stupid instead) and opened up the debate to more than 60 of my colleagues at the office. It was daunting to even consider this but over the last year and a bit I’ve been experimenting with sharing my blog with various people around me. People that often seem to want advice or even just to engage about topics that I am obviously passionate about. At first I felt a sense of trepidation which didn’t last any longer than it took for me to realise that their validation was of no consequence to me. There was always the risk that they would ridicule my ramblings, but strangely enough most have lost interest in a very short space of time. Some have commented vaguely on the content and the topics but none have engaged meaningfully about anything that they read.
That in itself provided an insight into my fears and assumptions, as well as their sincerity about wanting to truly challenge the stereotypes that they’re often prone to whining about. I focused on the former since I’ve realised that trying to convince people to take themselves seriously is a futile effort. People only ever take themselves seriously after they’re faced with a grave challenge in their life that forces them to question their significance to those around them, and more importantly, when they’re forced to face the truth of what they claim to stand for. It takes a defining moment of sublime struggle to cause us to question our purpose or our understanding of ourselves. At moments like that we realise what dreams we were holding on to but rarely, if ever, nurtured.
And so I set out to start the debate in the first session of the Thought Leadership Forum that I launched and was pleasantly surprised at both the turnout and the level of engagement. It’s early days, and there is nothing to suggest that this initiative might even survive beyond its second session, but the fact that I was able to force people to stop and reconsider their long held perspectives about common issues that we often take for granted on a daily basis is a really good thing. It was encouraging to see how many were confident enough to make statements about what they believed were universal truths, only to stop and give a nervous giggle when it was challenged because they realised that they didn’t necessarily consider it from that perspective before.
Perhaps, selfishly, I needed to take this blog from virtual reality to reality in order to test the water about my personal beliefs and its relevance to the average human being. Perhaps this is my way of determining whether or not there is merit in writing that book after all, or if my thoughts and ideas are simply pedestrian by nature and instead of causing people to sit up and listen, it may instead cure their insomnia. Perhaps this is the beginning of a new chapter in my life where I aspire to influence people in reality rather than to continue to hide behind the comfort offered by the nuances of virtuality.
People are strange. Sometimes, almost as strange as I know them to be.