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Today you get to read a truly awesome post from my friend, David. I’ve had the great pleasure of getting to know David over the last year. We first met at CampFI Mid-Atlantic in April and have stayed in touch via the internet in support of each other’s work.
We both launched our sites around the same time with interestingly similar names. 🙂
However, we have different missions but our common ground is financial independence.
David runs the stellar site, Fiology, which is designed to bring you a quality weekly lesson on financial independence. The lessons go for one year. I highly recommend enrolling!
Alright, enjoy this piece from David…
You Have an Audience
J.D. Roth of Get Rich Slowly wrote a post promoting the value of Fiology. His post led to a drastic increase of people enrolled to receive Fiology’s free weekly lessons. Reflecting on the numbers bump on my way to work, I had an epiphany. “I now have an audience!” All of a sudden I was thinking about the responsibility that came along with having an audience. As the audience grows, I need to be aware of my messaging and ensure I use tact in my dealings with others contributing in the financial independence space. Or if I write a blog post for someone else’s site, I need to make sure it is aligned with the values of Fiology, and so on.
Then almost immediately, I had an epiphany to the epiphany – “I’ve always had an audience. Hell, every person always has an audience.”
In every context of our lives, we have an audience.
The people in our office, in our departments, in our building, and in higher corporate echelons makeup our audience. We insert ourselves into this environment and convey messages with every action and interaction. These messages affect how we are perceived and directly shape culture, morale, and productivity.
We are messaging in everything we do from crafting and sending emails and having discussions with our coworkers and bosses to contributing in meetings and helping (or not helping) others with their challenges. Is your messaging adding positive or negative value in the place you spend so much time and energy?
It just so happened on this day, I performed the duties of master of ceremonies of a graduation. I did all of the obvious things like making eye contact with the audience members, attempt to speak clearly, and smile and have good posture as I would later be found in the background of photos and videos. At one point, while students were crossing the stage, exchanging graduation certificates for handshakes, I felt the urge to yawn. Luckily I didn’t have a speaking part at that moment and was able to step out of view for a few seconds.
What message would I have sent if I yawned at the podium in plain sight of faculty and students? This was a proud moment to be celebrated, my messaging of boredom would have added negative value.
Arriving home from work, I usually walk in the front door and say “Hello Family!” as our dog Pepper scurries excitedly at my feet, and then depending on who I reach first, kiss my wife and son and ask about their day. My fifteen-year-old daughter is usually somewhere else in the house. Most days I am able to hunt her down and inquire about the details of her day.
The message I want to send my family is that I am glad to be home with them, I love them, and I care about what they experienced that day. I don’t always get it right, but when I do, it adds positive value and sets us up for a more positive evening.
The Power of Our Influence
When I screw things up, my wife will let me know, usually in a loving but direct manner. However, my kids look up to me by default, because I am their dad. I understand the influence, both positive and negative, that my messaging has on their growth. My expectation is that they become well-rounded children and young adults with a healthy view of the world around them. And even though I understand the significance of my role in their development, I often react to things hastily when I should take time to craft a more appropriate response.
In the big scheme of life, they are with us for a short amount of time before venturing out in the world. I should strive to earn and maintain the respect of my children by continuing to focus on the value of my messages. When I act without much thought, it usually adds negative value to their lives.
Anyone with kids will agree that it is amazing what they pay attention to and remember. It seems my almost five-year-old son pays attention to everything and remembers everything. This past Sunday I woke up before the family and made my way to the gym. I sent my wife this message:
And it led to this exchange:
This goes to show that our kids (and young relatives for those who don’t have kids) pay attention to more than we know. And if they pay attention to and remember the color of a drawstring for no particular reason, imagine the power our physical and verbal interactions have in their lives. What positive value does your family receive from your messaging?
[Deanna note: firstly, how awesome is it that David has his wife programmed into his phone as, “My Queen”?! Ladies, accept nothing less!! Secondly, I can attest to little ones paying attention to the details. I’ve heard my niece & nephew repeat things I’ve told them…many times.]
I think it’s safe to say that there is no one we spend more time with than ourselves. We are our most consistent audience. Just as we should focus on intentional messaging to others in our world, it is important that we are aware of our messaging to ourselves.
Does it make sense for us to allow social media comments or opinions of others to impact how we think about ourselves? Even if there is some truth in the external comments or opinions, It is much healthier for us to understand the link between how we think and how we feel and using that to help us build a healthy relationship with ourselves? Looking elsewhere to place blame and even give credit for our happiness level is practically useless.
Lisa M. Hayes’ quote, “Be careful how you are talking to yourself because you are always listening.” sums this up nicely.
What does this have to do with financial independence?
By now you’ve read about a thousand words and nowhere have I recommended what index fund to invest in or where you should purchase your next rental property. The money stuff is the easy part. Remember, in this financial independence journey, money is only a tool and once you have enough money, it’s not about the money.
Happiness is what we’re after and I believe we each have the power to learn what brings us happiness and shape a life that maximizes happiness. And I believe that we are more likely to be happy if we identify our audience(s) and focus on providing positive value.
Bloggers and online personas do have an audience and they should be mindful of messaging. However, the majority of people on my mailing list will never meet me personally. My intention is to put positive value out into the world with Fiology and in my daily interactions.
Anyone exploring Fiology or other sites should not give the content more credit than warranted, it is simply displayed information. If that information inspires action that results in a benefit, great. Let’s be clear, however, that credit for progress and achievement belongs to the individual who is taking action in their lives.
In the financial independence community, we constantly focus on intentional spending, let’s also focus on intentional messaging and see how that allows us to experience more happiness.
Wow, David, this is such a thought-provoking post for not only bloggers but people in general!! My big takeaway is that all of us have an audience no matter what we are doing in life.
What do we want to tell that audience?
Moreover, what are we telling ourselves? I have a fitness instructor who pushes me hard and often times in class she’ll ask us, “what are you telling yourselves right now? It better be something positive!”
Thank you, David, for bringing it big time to me and my readers!!
P.S. Do I get to meet inspiring people through blogging or what??
We’d love to hear from and be inspired by you! How has this post stimulated thoughts on your messaging to yourself and others?