Alternate Title: The Kemetic community needs to re-embrace “don’t be a dick”.
One of the presenters during the leadership conference was Bear Grylls. My office just about lost it when they found out he was going to be presenting this year. I didn’t understand why everyone was so excited about it. To that point, my total knowledge of him was that he had a show about being outside (I have since learned he has had 3 shows about that subject). My coworkers kept going on about how excited they were to hear from him.
As his segment came up, I was mildly distracted by the sun glare on the snow behind him. He kept squinting at the camera and I had an urge to give him my sunglasses. But when he spoke, everyone quieted down to the point where you could hear a pin drop. I was finally beginning to understand why people gave this man a show. He evinced a sort of charisma that left you waiting for what he would say next.
The presentation that Bear gave was about what he called the Four Fs. These Four Fs were supposed to be in regard to leadership, but as I listened to him discuss them in detail and relate each word back to his own experiences, it was obvious that everyone has come into contact with these Four Fs throughout their lives. The Four Fs are:
Everyone experiences failure at some point in their lives. No one enters into something and immediately gets it on the first try, the eighth try, the one hundreds try. Failure is a part of the human condition, a part of being human at its most basic level. Sometimes the failure is a large one and leaves you wounded from it; sometimes the failure is something small and easily overcome. Failure is something that everyone has experienced and these failures have helped to forge people into the person that they are today.
As much as we may want to deny the moments where we have failed at something, especially the more dramatic flops in our life, we must come to the realization that more often than not, a failure is teaching us. It may teach us how to do something better the next time we come into contact with it, or it may be teaching us that what we thought we wanted isn’t actually right for us. Don’t deny the fact that you failed; embrace it because these failures will be more, often than not, a doorway leading you forward.
No matter what we have gone through in our lives, we have come across fear. It has found us in the dead of night; in the middle of a meeting; as you write a post on the Internet. It lurks around every corner and everyone has had some experience with this feeling. Life as a whole is scary; it is an unknown thing that we all experience and sometimes, we can experience it with other people. Sometimes, we can hold hands with someone beside us and let the feeling of fear wash over us. And sometimes, there is no one there to help you through it.
Everyone is fighting something; everyone is fearful of something. Sometimes we must embrace that fear and continue over the other side of it. There are moments where, no matter how much your instincts may be telling you to turn tail and run, you have to keep going through that moment with fear walking beside you. Face it; use it; embrace it. Take the energy of your fear and use it to keep moving forward. It isn’t a dark moment, not truly, when you stand beside your fear and have to keep going. As the Litany Against Fear says, “I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.”
Everyone has a furnace of fire burning deep within them; a steam engine that keeps them going; a wood-burning stove deep within. This is the drive, the push, the desire to move forward and keep going. This fire may be dampened or darkened because of illness, but it is still there. It pushes people forward and keeps them going even when they don’t want to keep going. Sometimes you have to stoke the flames and sometimes other must stoke it, but the furnace is lit and will continue to burn.
Some people claim that they have none, but that is not true. Everyone has a fire burning deep within; it may be tamped down or hidden, but it is there. You must find it and use it so that you can keep going. Don’t listen to the voices within or without that may be telling you it’s dead and gone; keep looking. As Bear Grylls said, “N.G.U. – never give up.” Or as Galaxy Quest has taught us all, “Never give up; never surrender.”
Everyone has faith. The faith may be in themselves; it may be for other people; it may be in what they’re doing; it may be for a higher power. It doesn’t matter what the cornerstone of that faith is but it is there, deep within. It can be used as the cornerstone or a slab of concrete to build up and outwards, but it is there. It isn’t simply a voice within telling you to keep going; it is a belief and trust that what you are doing is the right thing.
People may complain and say that people use it as a crutch, but it doesn’t matter. That blind trust, that faith, helps to stoke the fire, to face the fear, to admit and embrace the failure. It is the alpha and omega within everyone. It may start off as small and simple, but it can be built up to encompass the totality of the path ahead, a baseline to continue forward.
The one common thread between them all was the thread of kindness, a need for it. The kindness exhibited could be for others or yourself. But it is paramount to show kindness. Acts of kindness were woven through each story associated with each word and it became the overarching theme.
We all face these things, or have gone through these things, or are going through these things. It is imperative to understand that no one is alone in this. We have all experienced failures; we have all faced our fears; we have all stoked the flames of our inner fire; we have all kept going because of faith. Everyone has gone through this, no matter what the path ahead has looked like for each individual.
We must all understand that the path ahead is an individual path; no two are alike. But we have all experienced or are actively experiencing any one of these things at any given time. And it is with both humility and kindness that we can keep going and by extension, others can keep going.
Be kind to others; be kind to yourself. As we all go through failures and fears and fire and faith, it is kindness that helps to see us through. It is kindness to ourselves that reminds us that we are imperfect beings who are navigating through; it is kindness from others that can keep us going for one more hour, one more day, one more possible failure ahead.
The entire presentation was worth the watch, but it was the bit about kindness that stuck out for me because he was right. Kindness for yourself and kindness for others is paramount to success, paramount to continue on. If we cannot be kind to either ourselves or others, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
Something I have found lacking in the community is simple kindness. After TTR announced their hiatus, I went through the conversations we had had about the issues they were finding and began scoping out popular posts in the tags. And something that I kept seeing over and over again was this seemingly brusque persona that everyone had crafted for themselves. I suspect that this is a result of a two-fold problem: the toxicity within our community from a few years back and the exhaustion the prolific content creators tend to fall into after a few years.
As I mentioned in my post about TTR taking a hiatus, it can be exhausting when it’s your name being thrown out there the most and people keep asking for the same types of content or more new content. If you’re the only one giving out the information, then it wears you down until you can’t be kind to anyone anymore. You get jaded from all of the wear-and-tear that being a content creator brings with it and no matter how hard you try, it’s hard to find the benefit of the doubt and therefore, hard to find kindness.
When the community broke down, we all began doing our best to embody a little bit of Squidward in our online life. We needed to protect ourselves from the eventual break down of what we had worked hard for. We needed to distance ourselves from the inevitable explosion because it hurt too much to keep caring otherwise.
So everyone who has been around for that long has kind of started to come across a bit brusque when they respond to things and I think it’s a problem. We need to pull back from those parts of ourselves, the parts that we created to save ourselves from burnout or the burn down, and get back to kindness. We need to try and find the benefit of the doubt and we need to think critically when we respond to one another, to new people asking the usual 101 questions, and to outsiders just trying to understand.
I talked a bit about this last year after the last leadership conference I went to: it’s difficult to read tone when your community doesn’t have the ability or desire to be anything more than an online forum-type. It means that you have to sit back and ask yourself if the words you are choosing come across as rude, as ill-tempered, or flat our dick-like.
This is something that comes up for me a lot at work. As I mentioned in that post last year, the majority of my communication is through email. We have calls and talk to people, too, but I would say about 95% of my day is spent in front of a computer. And I can’t tell you how many times I hear complaints from my team about someone “being rude” or “being a dick” when that person is simply responding to something we sent them.
And you know what? When someone says that they got a “rude” response, it is almost always bias. It is a fear that they are coming from a place where they are wrong or a place of anxiety. The tone that they’re reading into the response isn’t there most of the time. It comes across that way because the person responding is trying to be as quick as possible in their response, which means they’re cutting out the fluff to get to the heart of the matter.
It makes things go by quickly, but it doesn’t necessarily mean things are going smoothly.
We do this within our community, too. We try to be quick and efficient, but sometimes you need to add in the flowery, the little kindnesses so that you don’t come across as rude or a dick. It’s a fine line that we walk, but if this community is going to grow as I would like it to and as others seem to want it to, then we need to remember how to not be a dick.
Over five years ago, TTR wrote about this very concept too. It wasn’t framed in a need for kindness, but in the need to embody the phrase “don’t be a dick”. They gave some handy hints on how to not come across that way. We need to go back to that. We need to sit still and think critically before we hit publish or reply. We need to refer back to the “yardstick of dickery” and try to remember that a little kindness can go a long way.
If we don’t, we’re as good as dead. All the chatter and discussion about content and creating it goes out the window if we can’t be nice to each other, or even to ourselves. We need to be kind. We don’t need to take shit, but we at least need to be kind.
I couldn’t agree more. Brava and well said!
I think the design and policies of tumblr and fb have contributed to the problem.
Even though the Cauldron and other older sites had civility problems, tumblr seemed to combine significant growth potential with the lack of tools to create safe spaces for people to talk. And after my kemetic FB account was killed off by an evangelical, I’ve been very careful what I post and who I talk with on there, and I’ve noticed others doing the same.The groups are a lot less active.
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