Lynne d Johnson



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03.18.10 12:23 PM

Living A Value-Added Life

Today I tweeted a new commitment I made:

I now feel like I tweeted this into a vacuum and it needs some background, context, and clarity. So let's begin at the middle, go back to the beginning, and then end up with my tweet today.

The Middle: I've been feeling a little overwhelmed and down lately. Sometimes procrastinating or just not getting anything done. Inspiration has been at an all-time low. Having started a new job in September and with some major changes happening in my family experience, I'm getting hit every which way to be doing something (which feels like all the time). But I couldn't get out of the rut no matter what I tried to do. I didn't even know why I lacked inspiration and any sort of conviction about anything I'm doing -- or better yet, supposed to be doing.

And it came to me in a tweet...

The Beginning: So there was this meme on Twitter the other day: #whenifirstmet and I decided to get involved. I'm not always one to jump on the trending bandwagon, but I did. I saw a couple of my IRL friends doing it, so I shouted a few of them out. One in particular jayhovawitness, was having fun with it, so I decided to talk about when I first met him. But you know what, it wasn't all love when I first met him. Why? Because the impression he had of me wasn't all favorable. He admired my hustle and what I was doing on the web and in the journalism game at the time, but what he didn't admire was that he reached out to me and I was all two deaf ears.

Here's what happened...

He was coming up in the game. Doing Allhiphop in Delaware and going to J school. He somehow met Kevin Powell, who suggested he reach out to me and some other folks. Jay sent me a heartfelt letter that I actually remember. But what I hadn't remembered is that I never got back to him. You see I have this habit of holding on to email that I think I need to have a thoughtful response for. But you know what happens when I do that? Yep you guessed it, I never get around to responding. The email sits there, sometimes for years.

So basically tweeting #whenifirstmet Jay and then seeing him tweet the backstory, got me to thinking that I live for other people getting some of what I got and getting put on. Basically, I love to see others shine in the best possible way that they can. But the problem is, I was leaving emails around that hadn't been responded to because I always thought I'd respond to them later. What kind of customer service is that? Aren't I supposed to be someone gifted in community and social media skills? So why had I broken down on one of the most valuable forms of communication?

I needed to backtrack and take the time to respond to every little request (big or small) that came across my path. How would I feel if people who have helped me move in my professional and personal life never got back to me? What if I wanted someone to give feedback on a song or poem, or blog post and they just never responded? How would I feel? And sure, I made the excuse that between the requests I get at work and personally there's no way I could respond to each and every one. How could I? There's no way anyone could expect me to do that. But you know what, I was/am wrong. Others do it. Others who receive far more email than I do. Others who are Internet famous, or entertainment famous, or just mad loved.

Today: This morning I slept only one or two hours because I was awake and responding to every email message that ever came through my contact form on my website that I hadn't dealt with, or that I told the emailer that I'd get back to them later. And I felt better for it. I felt great. Inspired. Motivated. And those who responded to my response, all showed appreciation, even the ones who I hadn't responded to for over a year. I apologized, cleared the slate, and offered any assistance that I could provide. You might say this is a big step, but it's not. Because all people really, truly want is acknowledgment--to know that someone is listening. I'd read the emails, but they just sat there waiting for me to take care of later. But why not take care of them right now?

So every day, I will act on all communication ASAP (this also means IMs, tweets, and blog comments, but not always FB or FriendFeed messages as quickly). I won't let it lag, unless there's really no way I can get to it--right now. I will explain that ASAP so it's not held over. So that the requestor is not left hanging, thinking I never received the email or probably just don't care. If nothing else, it's a way to achieve "Inbox Zero." Otherinbox, is an email product that helps me manage that even more so that those important messages get to me right away, while the newsletters, spam, email lists, etc. go somewhere else and wait. And that's what should be waiting, not real, live people waiting for responses. Not real, live people who took time, effort, and courage, just to ask my advice or for a connection or feedback...whatever.

Thanks to Jay and #whenifirstmet for bringing me this clarity. For helping me to provide true customer service and to deliver real value. But what's in it for me?

I'm inspired.

I'm motivated.

My work is singing...swinging...moving ahead.


People have shared their lives and time with me, making a deposit, and then they made a withdrawal when I shared back. How much do you want to bet they'll think about that when someone asks them for something? How much do you want to bet they'll continue the cycle? You're damn right they will.

That's how I'm planning to live a value added life. How are you living a value added life?

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