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Minutiae, Rants

I was offline for almost a year

Back in February 2012, things started going wrong. I can’t even explain to myself, I’ve just spent most of my time coming to terms with my situation and working out how to move forward.

Broken and splinteredYou know, I had a job I loved and was very proud of my career progression. I felt like I was a self-made man from a seaside town, playing with the big boys and girls in cities across the UK. I felt like people appreciated my work – and that was very important to me. Too important really; my self-identity was wrapped up in other people.

Part of my progression has been leading a small charitable organisation from foundation to now, a decade later. My passion is communications, and I have some web skills and I’m social savvy; so I’ve done my best to create an organisation from nothing, working with great people over the years and winning certain accolades and achieving great things in the eyes of our service users.

By 2012 though, the attrition of volunteers and trustees had left the organisation smaller (people and financial wise) than ever before. My lack of direct involvement in 2011 (owing to my fabulous professional responsibilities elsewhere) left the organisation floundering somewhat as it approached its tenth birthday. We, that is, the organisation, needed a new website, new content, a real presence on social media, a new book, more volunteers, new directors.

So when my server was hacked by criminals in February 2012, the organisation’s popular website was hit as well, and the organisation suffered material damage. The finances, reputation and actual everyday work was damaged, arrested; March is the busiest month each year and yet we were frozen, unable to do anything online.

Later in February, one of my brothers died. I’m not comfortable writing about it. My family is distributed and complex. He was older than me, but a young family man. He was fit. He liked the gym. His heart stopped. There’s an element of genetics involved. All my other brothers have been checked by a doctor since. I should like to tell you that I have been checked too, and that my heart’s fine. I’d like to; but I get these weird heart palpitations when I’m worried and anxious; and so I’m too full of fear to go to my doctor. I will go soon. I’m not getting any younger, and I want to exercise without risk.

My job at that time, as you may know, involved a lot of travel, some hotel nights away, a great many trains and planes, and a lot of time management and deadlines.

I was doing everything I’d ever dreamed of. Assessing my life in January 2012, as I always do around my birthday, I couldn’t help but have a sense of pride. Twenty years ago I was homeless and living off eight pounds a week. Now I had a dog and had bought roses trees for my garden.

I lost that garden in February as well, when the landlord decided to liquidate his assets and sell-up. (He’d later text me in November and ask me to return as a tenant, but I couldn’t.)

The singular point I’d like to make is that February 2012 was bad in so many important ways, and I was somewhat stressed. It’s OK if you think you could’ve handled everything, people are different. I couldn’t.

My brother had died before his time; the charitable organisation I had personally founded in 2002 was floundering; my websites were all messed up by criminals; I wasn’t coping with all the travel my job required; I had to move house for the first time in four years – the thirty-fifth time I’ve had to move in total.

Focus.

What to do?

Focus.

There’s something very different between attempting to avoid pain and seeking happiness.

Considering my tribulations, I felt I had to avoid pain. So I shut everything down. Moving home was a line in the sand. I left my dream job, closed down most of my websites, returned to my Tao activities, and switched off my phone. Switched. Off.

I created a new strategic direction for the charitable organisation and began to execute it. I wrote, edited and formatted a health book that will be on sale in a matter of weeks; I’m arranging a new web design; I’ve boosted donations like never before; I’ve helped the organisation get somewhere with their social networking; and most importantly, I’m working with the ever resourceful, ever patient, Jules and Rachel to develop the organisation in a sustainable manner so that it can run itself, rather than run Jules, Rachel and myself into the ground.

I switched my phone on; returned to Twitter (thank you for your welcome) and now I’ve relaunched Kilobox Communiqué to continue my exploration into good communications, employee engagement, content strategy, intranets and user experience. I’m indebted to several people who have contributed to this relaunch, and I hope you will enjoy reading their different perspectives in their thought provoking pieces.

While I continue in a leadership role in our small charitable organisation, once my sustainable development strategy is embedded I mean to return to the public or private sector in a communications or intranet role.

My blog and tweets got me two solid job offers in 2010 and 2011, and CVs are so very boring, so yes, I’m hoping once again that there’s a manager and organisation out there that already thinks I’m a good fit. I await that role for which I’m wanted. There’s nothing better than being wanted, nothing.

[ Wedge ]

Photo credit: Wedge

About Wedge

I’m Wedge, and this is my website! I’ve worked within internal communications since 2004, managing intranets and digital comms. Now I’m a freelance comms and intranet specialist - I help organisations plan and improve their intranets. I work with other agencies, and write a lot of blog and magazine articles. I founded the Intranet Now conference. You can catch up with me on Twitter - I’m @Wedge.

4 thoughts on “I was offline for almost a year

  • Welcome back Wedge – it’s good to hear from you! Such a trying time to face all in a month and such a brave decision to come back fighting strong!

    Hope to see you around the Intranet circuit soon! And you’re more than welcome to visit the RSPB any time :)

    All the best and take care.

    Jo Treverton

  • Hey Wedge, great to see you back online. Writing this post must have been very difficult for you – I hope it proves to be a turning point and 2013 is an amazing year for you.

    Best wishes,

    Haydn.

  • Hi Haydn,

    I wish I could’ve explained at the time, but events over-took me. I miss what might have been at Interact, but I’m still in touch with Nigel and hope to be of some use to you guys as well as others ;)

    I’m working through a few things and perfectly busy with some long-term projects, but I’m glad to be back in the world of intranets and I’m sure I’ll see you around. Tweet me anytime.

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