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Column: The Truth About Career Limiting Moves

Friday, April 23, 2010
When I tell people I blog about the public service they usually tell me I'm crazy. When I tell them that I've been doing it for two years without major incident they are skeptical. My contemporaries are told to stop or to take “great care in what they write".

If you ever doubted the value of blogging - how it can positively impact a team, how it can promote learning, or how it can lead to organizational growth - I would urge you to read a series of posts from a team of public servants in British Columbia.

Nina Ilnyckyj started the conversation (oh and it is a conversation) with this post entitled "This week I was like a baby goat. Right. A kid." To quote Nina:

Juxtapositions are good for flash of insights. I realized that I’ve been as silly as a baby goat this week, and just as prone to butting heads. In other words, I was a bit juvenile in how I tried to incite change.

Nina's boss, Robin Farr, responded here with a post entitled "The old dog, the kid, and some new tricks":

We have a different perspective on a few things, so it could have been a tense conversation. I actually think it went quite well. But the point of this post isn't to highlight what Nina got out of it, but what I did.

Finally Robin's boss, Rueben (are you following? Hierarchical chain: Nina - Robin - Rueben) responded in a post entitled "Your friendly neighbourhood communications & engagement superheroes":

Because it is my good fortune to have a team that is so deeply passionate about their work that they actively seek out better ways to do our work on a daily basis. It seems most people spend their work days trying hard to care about what they do. The people I work with spend their days caring to try harder. And it's not like that makes their work easier. It's easier not to care. It's hard to care that much about our work because it tends to drive you to do more and to insist on doing it right. It tends to mean you are more emotionally invested in your work. And when you hit walls or can't deliver at the level you want, it tends to leave you battered and bruised and frustrated - until you pick yourself up and channel that into motivation to take on the next thing. And there's always a next thing. So I hope they all spend the weekend in their respective fortresses of solitude, resting their courage and passion in preparation for another week.

I think the chain speaks for itself. It speaks to the value proposition of social media in government. It speaks to the courage of the people involved, it speaks to how the web connects us, and teaches lessons from the lives of others.

Whenever anyone steps up and tells you that blogging and the public service doesn't mix; when they tell you not to; and when they tell your that you are risking too much tell them that the real risk is failing to soldier on. Tell them that the truth of the matter is this: the real career limiting move is keeping your head down, never taking a risk, and fear-mongering when you realize that the calculated risk-taker beside you is likely to quickly surpass you on the career path.

Tell them, and if they need further convincing, send them the link to this post so that they can read first hand why public servants should blog, how those blogs have value, and how those people pushing for change out there in the open - people like Nina, Robin and Rueben - are courageous, far more courageous than any coward who tells someone else not to have an opinion, let alone voice one.