Note: This Post originally appeared on my other site (brandonsdouglas.com) which is currently out of service due to a poor decision in web hosting. As such, the links in the text to previous posts may not work.
I have been a creator in one form or another throughout my life, mostly in drawing and painting. About 10 years ago, I got serious with my artistic pursuits and even experienced some modest success in that realm. These pursuits culminated in 2016 with a gallery show with my friends and mentor Seth Haverkamp and Kat Haverkamp. While creating my paintings for the show, I realized I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I had gone from a place of wanting to share my work to creating work to share. This is where a creative pursuit becomes a side hustle; the perceived value of the goals begins to outweigh the value of the process itself. Some people can do this successfully, I could not. I all but quit painting after that show was over. I was unable to just enjoy the process. Since then, I’ve only completed a handful of pieces. The same thing happened with this blog.
Exactly two years ago I uploaded my first post on this blog. A few months later, I posted my last. I started with intentions of sharing what I was learning but I quickly lost sight of those intrinsic reasons and focused on page counts and clicks. I started trying to turn out posts as quickly as I could to keep people interested and coming back. I wanted my work to get shared, I wanted to be known. I was writing for extrinsic rewards, not personal progress. I was writing to share, not sharing what I wrote. So I stopped.
Over the past eighteen months, I have gone through a lot of changes. Not the least of which was being promoted to battalion chief. That promotion initiated a big shift in how I think and that about which I think. I’ve become less focused on fire service-specific endeavors and have instead focused on pushing myself to grow as a person, knowing that becoming a better person overall will make me better not only in my role as a leader but as a father and a husband as well. During this season of change, I’ve all but disappeared from social media and haven’t shared much of anything. This is partially due to not fully trusting myself to do so; I’m afraid of getting into the same old bad habit loop. But then I read Show Your Work by Austin Kleon which pushes the value in sharing what you create but coming at it from a deeply personal place. He urges the reader to share as a means of holding yourself accountable, refining your knowledge, and contributing to your community. This is the idea of learning in public. If I’m going to post something on here, I better know about what I’m writing about.
Soon after that book, I stumbled upon Derek Sivers and his idea that you should try to “get famous” not as a means of personal gain but to be useful to others. He points out the opposite of sharing is hiding, “which is of no use to anyone.” Like most people, I want to be useful. Therefore, I should share what I’m learning and what I’m thinking, even if it seems obvious and ordinary.
So that’s the goal this time around: use this as means of sharing what I’m learning in hopes that I’ll learn and grow more while being of more use to others. I’m not here to make money or gain a following. I’m here for myself. If you enjoy it and get something from it, that’s simply a bonus. While my career in the fire service will certainly color that which I learn and write about, this will not just be about being a fire officer as that is but one facet of my life. Instead, I aim to document how everything in life feeds everything else; how seemingly unrelated ideas and concepts come together to stimulate growth and improvement. Hopefully, it’ll be of some use.