The Parable of the Talents is a simple one. The Master who must go away for a while entrusts three servants with large amounts of money or “talents,” as they were called in oldentimes. They must take care of this money while he is gone. To one servant he gives 5 talents, to another he gives 2 talents and to the final servant he only gives 1 talent.
When he returns and asks for an accounting, the first two servants have put the money to work- doubling the talents. For this the Master rewards them handsomely. The third servant is so fearful of losing the talent that he buried it in a hole, and returns the talent to the Master. The Master is upset, “couldn’t you have at least put it in the bank, so that I could have drawn interest?” he asks. The third servant is called lazy- and forced to give the talent to the servants who had been more responsible.
This story came to mind after finishing a six month training program with a group of very bright attorneys. They learned blogging, social media strategy and how to turn contacts into clients through online technology. In discussions with the Director of Marketing I apologized that although half the lawyers had very positive results, the other half of the group didn’t really accomplish much of anything. His reply?
“That is the way of big law firms, the attorneys that really follow-through see results. You will never get all the attorneys to do the things that will really be successful for them.”
This made my wonder, what is it that holds so many people back from really jumping in to social media?
I think it comes down to one thing- FEAR. Blogs are not easy to get started, they are time consuming and they require patience. Even more than any of those things though, they require courage. They require you to put yourself out there. A new friend I made online recently started blogging about social media for lawyers. She works at a law firm, and wanted to share the things she was learning. Within a few hours she was attacked on Twitter for trying to be a social media guru or for having some ulterior motives. That is just the risk anybody runs that decides to blog. You are exposing yourself, taking a step into the darkness- the great unknown. And you have no idea what awaits you on the other side. I find the whole process quite exhilarating, but to others it can be quite paralyzing.
What if nobody likes what I have to say?
What if people disagree with me?
What if someone at my firm doesn’t like my opinion?
What if a client dislikes my blog post?
What if I commit and then later get too busy?
There are plenty of things to be afraid of, but if you focus on those things you will never make it out of your front door in the morning. You might as well bury your talent for the month and stay home sick.
I believe everyone has some pretty fantastic abilities, but so often we are afraid to really let them shine. We worry too much about what people will think or say about us. We all have something unique to give and the social media world is helping us to understand that more than ever. It isn’t about what you do for money, it is about what you give away. This takes courage because it is a real risk to give and have faith that it will come back to you.
If you can’t stand the risk, go ahead, bury your talents. Keep them hidden. Keep them safe. They aren’t growing, they aren’t building or helping others but at least nobody can take them from you. It is up to you, but in my mind hiding your talents from the world is the riskiest strategy of all.