If you're knee-deep in an all-consuming career, you probably don't take much time out to ask yourself how and why you got there. That's time taken away from either the job at hand or your leisure time—time you probably can't spare.
A little navel-gazing can go a long way, though. Paychecks aside, asking yourself why you're in a particular line of work can put you back in touch with your original inspiration, your core ambitions and your native talents.
At PR News we constantly talk to and work with PR pros, marketers, content creators and social media strategists, connecting them with each other and asking them to share their case studies, best practices, strategies and tactics through our live events, webinars, articles and awards programs, but we don't often step back and ask them what brought them to—and what keeps them practicing—the discipline of professional communications.
Luckily, I've got a colleague here at PR News who either by instinct or by design asks blunt questions of an existential nature, challenging general assumptions and making one stop and think. This colleague posed just such a question to the PR News community on Twitter earlier this week, in the form of a fill-in-the-blank statement: "I work in communications because_____." This sort of question runs a bit deeper than "why is your brand on/not on Snapchat?"
Several respondents wrote that it was the urge to tell stories that drew them to and keeps them in communications.
— Leticia Ebb (@lme_mktg) July 8, 2017
Because I consistently received "#13" aka "excessive talking" on my report cards in grade and high school. I love telling stories! #prnews
— treshea wade (@TresheaWade) July 7, 2017
Humans are naturally drawn to stories & it's my life's greatest joy to tell them & help others to do the same.
— Holly Landis (@Holly_Landis) July 7, 2017
Perceptions of what communications isn't lay at the heart of another common response.
"I can't do math."
— Mike Deering (@MikeDeering1) July 7, 2017
...because I'm not good at math.
— Tara Madden (@Tara_Madden) July 7, 2017
Because I couldn't even pass the lowest level math class in high school... ?
— The Brand Lion (@TheBrandLion) July 7, 2017
Sure, we know these tweets may be in jest, but jokes—even half-jokes—reveal truths. High school and college students may veer toward communications because of an aversion to and fear of math. That will probably never change. What has changed is the shift to digital and the expectation that all communications work be justified with data and analytics. If you're a communicator in 2017, you're swimming in data. You're dealing with math, the very thing you fled.
Asking yourself why you're in a certain line of work will reveal to you what you enjoy doing and what you're running away from—and what's catching up to you.
Follow Steve Goldstein: @SGoldsteinAI