Blogger’s Hierarchy of Growth

Blogneeds I have been pondering the idea of authenticity and its link with writing, with branding and strategy and with the private self for some time. In fact, some of my earliest posts were on what it means to be authentic. For some reason it keeps coming back to a sense of writing voice or writing style … and this post from Lewis Green got me thinking on this topic some more — for it seems that we blogging folks go through a kind of metamorphosis the longer we write, engage, listen, discuss and collaborate with our readers and the wider online community. And it is this process of personal change that I find intriguing.

There have been many recent examples of these changes … and sometimes this change occurs through a conscious decision while at other times it is a change enforced by a series of events. My buddy, Sean Howard, has been doing some digging around this area for a while and seems to be making some progress. As you may know, the charming CK had these changes forced upon her as did I some time ago. And currently unfolding over at Marcus Brown’s blog is an amazing and searing, slow-cooked story of personal challenge and change.

No matter what the catalyst for this change is, the desire to share its story or to flee from it is powerful, and it takes great strength and courage to do both — for of course, one can never ESCAPE from one’s own story. The question is only one of TELLING.

In many ways, this process reminds me of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs — but with a twist. On the base level there are PHYSIOLOGICAL needs for blogging (or for any kind of writing). We need a computer or a pen and paper. On the next level rather than safety, there is a need for time to THINK, create and write. Up from there is COMMUNITY, a sense of belonging and of our place within a group. REPUTATION is the point at which the "higher needs" begin to be addressed — with a focus on leadership and an emerging sense of values. The pinnacle in this model is a form of actualisation based on ETHICS.

At every transition point, a change in VOICE occurs because there is a corresponding change in the writer. And at the higher levels of the pyramid, the separation between what we say and what we do in the world evaporates. Gradually, from behind the mask, the real person/writer appears in full view.

Of course, the interesting thing about this is … that the process never ends. No matter where you are there is always room for more growth.

8 thoughts on “Blogger’s Hierarchy of Growth

  1. Gavin,
    Terrific post! Since blogging is writing, our voices establish a tone and affects the messages we communicate. I believe the tone communicates more than the words, but intelligent people disagree and so the following represent my truth, not the truth.
    When we write from the heart, using information, research, and experiences as the foundation of our truth, we come across as authentic. And when we write for our readers, the ones who visit our sites, our voice rings true every time because our readers recognize us and have a sixth sense about what we are trying to say. They can interpret the hidden messages that we don’t always know we communicate.
    So when our voices change, and sometimes it is forced upon us by external events and sometimes it is purposeful, we need to recognize it so that we can tell our readers why our voices have changed. Otherwise, we may push them away. When CK’s momma died, for example, she did just that, and we responded by reaching out to her.
    Authenticity = heart = feelings = our truth = honesty = integrity = credibility.

  2. Gavin, the stuff I’m writing about now is probably the stuff I wanted to write about from the very beginning. That’s why my blog is called what it’s called.
    For some reason, I felt I needed time; I was comfortable and I didn’t feel safe. That’s changed now and that’s why I’m telling the story the blog was always intended to tell.

  3. Hey Gavin,
    Damn. I think I went the wrong direction. I went from Physiological to Psychotic. I blame it on Paul! 😉
    Hey. Check out Pieter’s post.
    Intriguing when we talk about the character of a communication.
    I totally love the pyramid and the idea that our masks gradually disappear.
    When I first started blogging I had a view that it was about readership. For this is what I saw. Now I realize it is a community. So cool.

  4. Everything we are is through imitation and forgetting where we learn “it” so that we can make it our own, and thus authentic. But Im afraid and melancholicly disturbed at the fact that nothing is genuine nor authentic… I guess the true and brave act of any authentic or genuine person is to admit to the constant fake as a strategy for survival… Plus we are what we choose to pick and mix, which is not a bad thing either!!! Tarà

  5. Ramon … It seems that the loss of authenticity is part of our human condition … but I think it is wrapped up in a desire for full knowledge. I don’t believe that there is no longer any authenticity — but that we are all, in our own ways, always in a constant state of becoming. Do we ever get there? Do we ever master it? Or ourselves? I think this is the struggle of life … but it is also, life’s joy.
    Thanks all for contributing to this discussion! Plenty more to think on …

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