Mar 1, 2021 | Leadership

Our VP of Client Engagement prepares quarterly reports on the impact of our marketing efforts. She starts with an At A Glance summary of our website performance, email subscriptions, and social media impact. Next, she drills down into each category to compare quarter-over-quarter growth and what content gained the most impact and why. She wraps the reports up with recommendations about what we should start, continue, and stop doing. One of the recommendations she made while reviewing the Q4 2020 report was to write more posts of lists, such as the wildly popular “13 Rules of Leadership by Colin Powell”.

Her reasoning was perfectly valid. Lists bring order to chaos. They help us better recall content. They’re easy to scan and less taxing on the brain. “Plus,” she added, “Google’s algorithms promote lists, and that makes it more likely that your posts will be promoted by Google.” I have mad respect for my colleague, but as I reflected on her feedback, I thought about why I’d been writing more reflective posts recently. Here’s my attempt to come up with three reasons why I haven’t written more list posts lately.

1. Lists limit nuance. During a time sharply divided by ideology, it is easier to embrace absolutes over nuances. But absolutes like lists feed into our divided ideology, and I don’t want to contribute to that division right now. Instead, I want to invite differences of opinion, differences in experience, and differences in views to work to heal our divisions.

2. Lists signal conclusion. We’re still in the midst of a period that has stress tested everything we once took as immutable. Our branches of government, security forces, medical and education systems, socio-economic disparity, racial inequity, even the weather patterns are so much more complicated today. We need to keep these issues open and deal with them honestly rather than wait for the inconvenient truths to blow over.

I don’t actually have a third reason or a tidy ending. I would typically write something like “I invite you to take advantage of 2021 with me to appreciate the nuance, invite opposing points of view, and be open to gaining new insight.” While that’s true, I’d prefer to try to leave this here and walk away without the need to oversimplify the beautifully complex state that we are in.

Question: How long can you stay comfortable when life is open-ended?

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