Layout Image

Godin on the Humility of Blogging

I wanted to follow up the conversation on how blogging helps us get to the heart of things with this video featuring a conversation with Seth Godin and Tom Peters.

I’m going to focus on the Godin part because there are a few things he says in this very short clip that seem, to me, to capture both some of the essence of blogging we’ve been talking about and the way blogging can help us to get to the essence, to what matters, and what counts.

Godin says this:

“…It doesn’t matter if anyone reads it.  What matters is the humility that comes from writing it. What matters is the metacognition of thinking about what you’re going to say. How do you explain yourself…? How do you force yourself to describe in 3 paragraphs why you did something? How do you respond out loud? If you’re good at it, some people are going to read it. If you’re not good at it, and you stick with it, you’ll get good at it…. You’re doing it for yourself, to force yourself to become part of the conversation, even if it’s just that [gesturing something very small] big That posture change… changes an enormous amount.”

There was something about this short clip - the Godin part is not a minute long - that spoke to me - perhaps it’s the further evidence of where the compression of thought can take us ;-)

Blogging changes the way you think about things.

You can learn how to write, how to approach things, how to express ideas through blogging.

It teaches you as you go. Blogging changes the relationship you have with words, with people, with ideas.

It changes your posture.

“What matters is the humility that comes from writing it.”

What do you think?

Does humility make sense in relation to the blogging  you do?

Thanks to Ken Allen, Blogger in Middle Earth, for letting me know about the video

Share on Twitter


  1. The Humility of Blogging « Haynhi says:

    [...] Full story here. [...]

  2. Tom Wanek says:

    “It changes your posture.”

    This is such a great line, and a fantastic video clip. Thanks for sharing Joanna.
    .-= Tom Wanek´s last blog ..Does GM’s Signal of Confidence Hit the Mark? =-.

  3. Karen Swim says:

    Joanna, thank you so much for sharing this today. I can understand why it resonated with you, my heart flipped over as I read the words. So much of what Seth said struck a chord for me.

    “You’re doing it for yourself, to force yourself to become part of the conversation, even if it’s just that [gesturing something very small] big.”

    As an extrovert with introvert tendencies this line nails it for me. Before blogging, I lurked and read and was truly an internet bystander. Blogging did force me to become part of the conversation, to contribute my voice and perspective, to rise above my own doubts and insecurities and speak. Yes, blogging is humbling. I love that Seth points out what a forgiving medium it is too. If you’re not good at it, stick with it and you will be - so true!
    .-= Karen Swim´s last blog ..Crazy Colors, Level Doors and Life Lessons =-.

  4. Bo Mackison says:

    “It doesn’t matter if it’s read.”
    “It doesn’t matter if it’s good because if you stick with it you will get good.”

    Perfect! When I started by photoblog, I had taken maybe 100 photos with a digital camera. Essentially, I knew nothing. But I stuck with it, nearing 2 years now, and I spend probably 50-60+ hours a week on some aspect of photography. And I like to see how far I’ve come and imagine how much further I can go. (Blogs make it so easy to scan your progress.) And mostly because I made the commitment to do a daily photoblog.

    Now I know your practice focuses more on the writing side, and though I do write with my photograph posts, the photo most frequently is primary. But I think it works - this blogging thing - for all sorts of life skills, not only writing.

    So true that if you keep working on something, you get better.
    .-= Bo Mackison´s last blog ..Rusty Bridge =-.

  5. Lori Hoeck says:

    My most impacting writing mentor in journalism told me that it is an honor to write for the public and that it comes with responsibility. I took those words of wisdom to all my writing, including blog writing. When I think of my audience this way, I naturally run my words through an internal BS and hypocrisy filter — “Am I just venting for my own ego’s sake here or am I honoring my audience with something of value?”
    .-= Lori Hoeck´s last blog ..Has a narcissist tried this manipulation on you? =-.

  6. Meredith says:

    This is a wonderful post! I often think of blogging as a narcissistic exercise and have occasionally thought about quitting for that reason. But, my experience of blogging is more along the lines of what Godin describes. For one thing is a humbling experience to try to express oneself to the public: humbling because it causes me to bump up against my inadequacy for the task.

    Participating in that exercise, however, has made me a better writer. I think it was the discipline of blogging regularly that made me believe I could actually write novels.

    Finally, and just as importantly, it is good to be a part of the” conversation”, however small my contribution might be.
    .-= Meredith´s last blog ..Ebooks! =-.

  7. elmot says:

    I really love this words from Seth: it does not matter if no one reads it, what is important is the humility that comes from writing it.

    Sometimes we blog or write because we want to tell others that our ideas are far more superior than that of others. But Seth has reminded us that writing is the exercise of the virtue of humility.
    .-= elmot´s last blog ..Do They Have the Balls To Do It? =-.

  8. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Tom it’s such a different take on things isn’t it? Glad you enjoyed it.

    Karen well I for one am so, so glad that you decided to join the conversation. I have learned so much from what you share online and I know that goes for lots of others too.

    Bo that’s a great addition about it working for other skills too. Good point also about the way blogs let you scan progress. I’m glad you can see the progress you’ve made in your photography (and poetry :-0) I’m wondering whether blogging has also changed your ‘posture’ as a photographer - do you find yourself looking for different perspectives and frames as a consequence?

  9. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Lori that’s a powerful filter to get you writing with both humility and confidence. Actually there’s soemthing about Godin’s point on posture here that reminds me of you and blackbelt writing - it’s about getting your feet firmly on the ground, flexible, strong, confident yet also humble, knowing your place.

    Meredith I think people on the outside tend to see blogging as narcisstic but it doesn’t really reflect what the experience is like from the inside. It’s humbling in terms of the relationship we have with our readers and, like you say, with ourselves. It’s also reminded me time and time again of how generous bloggers/ people are in their feedback, willingness to support and encourage… That too is humbling :-)

    Elmot I agree - I think it’s more to do with the willingness to share ideas, openly, rather than saying from a high up platform, ‘this is what I think, my ideas are better than yours’. Glad you enjoyed the clip.

  10. Janice Cartier says:

    Yes, and yes. Brilliant clip. Considering I began writing in public to correct what I thought was a huge gap in my skill set, I would have to agree with everything said in the clip. I am amazed at just how formidable a “training ground” this format is.
    The metacognition bit especially caught me. I have to say that process alone is probably one of the most important. And is indeed truly humbling. Getting really good at knifing into the thing, THE thing most important to say. No matter how frequently we publish, that alone is such an essential skill that gets practice every time.

  11. Leah Pauls says:

    I take a deep breath and exhale slowly. I can feel those words stirring inside me. Or is it churning?

    I think blogging must definitely be an exercise in humility. Why else would it be so hard (for me) to start? Am I the only one who spends hours thinking of what I could or should be writing, but never doing it? Is it because I’m afraid? And does that fear stem from pride-the opposite of humility?

    Maybe I can start blogging about analyzing the fears that keep us from success. Maybe I should stop thinking about it and just do it. Hey, have I become part of the grand conversation?

  12. Matt Blair says:

    Absolutely! There’s nothing more humbling than having what seems like a great idea appear in my head, going to the keyboard, and trying to pour that idea into the form of words, only to find myself staring quizzically at the jumbled mess I’ve assembled.

    If you’re blogging to communicate, rather than just express yourself, thinking about audience is also humbling.

    Blogging can be self-indulgent. “I am blogging” is a narcissistic statement. There’s only one person in that sentence. Anyone else that witnesses it is probably just a random onlooker.

    But then add the question: “To whom?” Pondering the audience can bring about the change of posture that Godin describes.

    Blogging is like exposure therapy for perfections. I can’t count how many times I have tentatively moved my mouse toward the Publish button, still wincing at an awkwardly-structured sentence, and clicked the button anyway.

    In that way, commenting is kind of humbling, too! And with comments, the button is appropriately labeled: Submit!

    Thanks for the ideas and framing you added to Godin’s quote!
    .-= Matt Blair´s last blog ..My Experience of English as a Second Language =-.

  13. Janice Cartier says:

    (okay thanks to Matt I am never going to look at the “submit” button the same way again. LOL )

  14. Tony Lawrence says:

    I’d say it a bit differently:

    If you can’t explain it, you don’t understand it.
    .-= Tony Lawrence´s last blog ..A fish is not a hack =-.

  15. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Janice it’s interesting isn’t it because it’s not just writing, it’s also the reflection and the commitment to sharing, the regular practice, the learning how to dig that bit deeper. I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much (from other bloggers as well as my own blogging, I hasten to add ;-) )

    Leah Hello and welcome :-) No doubt it’s a mixture of stirring and churning. You’re not the only one who’s sat for hours and not doing it - we’ve all been there, even if we’ve been blogging for a while. Sometimes the fear can grip you. I doubt it’s pride - more the feeling of ‘who am I’ to… share thoughts, express ideas etc. To which the idea has to be: who are you not to? It’s a mixture of needing pride (and confidence) to speak up, and the humility to keep figuring out how best to let others tune in, listen and connect. And yes, welcome to the conversation.

    Matt thanks for such thoughtful reflections, and having the confidence and humility to submit :-)

  16. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Tony but does learning how to communicate and explain it not also help us to understand it?

  17. Meredith says:

    Joanna, you wrote “…more the feeling of ‘who am I’ to… share thoughts, express ideas etc. To which the idea has to be: who are you not to?”

    THAT is the dialog that goes on inside my head nearly every time I sit down to blog. “Who are you to hold forth so?” “Why not?” “Because you (a) don’t know what you’re talking about, (b) don’t know exactly who will see it and take it out of context and (c) are not sure that anybody cares.”

    To which I respond: “(a) Maybe I’ll learn something (b) maybe somebody will chime in and teach me something and (c) somebody just might care…
    but most of all (d) I love doing it.” So there!
    .-= Meredith´s last blog ..On Inspiration, Creativity and Ideas =-.

  18. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Meredith those are wonderful ripostes to the inner critic! Learning is a powerful motivator and great way to get round the gremlins. And yes, someone might very well care when they find your words - it might be just what they needed to hear. Comments can work like that too :-)

  19. Patricia says:

    Wow I came from Cath’s blog tonight and clicked over from your post title on the comment - I had read this before off twitter, but tonight I heard it….and it made just the right sense of things and ideas…

    I keep asking myself what am I supposed to do with my writing - I keep writing and writing and writing like the hamster in the wheel…now I seem to want meaning to it….like the artist who’s attic is full of a lifetime of sketches….it is part of being - it is the clarity and the humility…ah a satisfying response.

    Thank you

  20. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Patricia so glad the article and video helped you to get that ‘aha’ moment… Such a wonderful image - the artist with an attic full of a lifetime of sketches, and they all mean something, suggest and signify, teach and tell us something… we don’t always know it or see it at the team, but the act of writing it down will help things become clear, does help things become clear over time.

  21. Kerry Grier says:

    I have been blogging for a short time but it has sharpened my senses and exposed nerve endings in a wondrous way. It is changing the way I speak too. If people don’t want to read fluff they probably don’t want to hear it either. I am cutting out a lot of the clutter.
    .-= Kerry Grier´s last blog ..Dirty Laundry =-.

  22. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Kerry it’s amazing the effect blogging has on the way we write, speak, learn, think… it’s a very powerful tool, and much under-rated by those who don’t use it.

  23. Articles about Internet Marketing Experts as of October 5, 2009 | The Lessnau Lounge says:

    [...] [...]