How is community management like motherhood?January 24, 2011
My career is not unlike my home life. I am very passionate about both. In honor of Community Manager Appreciation Day (read more here), I have crafted this piece to illustrate how they are related.
In the beginning
Some people get together and create something special, something they are passionate about. Then after a gestational period (development), there is a birth (The community is born).
In the beginning, there is much nurturing as well as (in the best scenario) rapid growth. At first, there is much you have to do to care for and protect this little one, hand holding, encouragement and nurturing (which is at its most intense).
At times, you will need to sense where the problem might be and respond with perhaps more than one solution. There are also times where your techniques, motives and choices will be challenged and questioned by people both inside and outside the fold. Much change and growth is seen in the first year.
Happy birthday! Your baby has turned One!
In the second year, you feel a bit more confident. You are willing to let this little one stand on its own two feet. To explore. But only because you have the data to do so, you have watched and measured the performance of this little one so far, and are ready to move forward.
And while you still have a strong hand in the development and direction, you are more willing to let go a little to see the personality and physical accomplishments come through on their own. There is a personality and a voice that emerges and you have a hand in the shaping of the direction of that personality and voice.
Beyond the second birthday.
As time goes on, you feel more confident about letting go a little more. Letting the independence come through while secretly still steering the ship. Offering encouragement, suggestions and often teaching the little one about new directions and ideas.
At this point, voice and personality have emerged. You are still the major influence in the life of this little one. You will always be teaching and sometimes, even learning yourself (you will always be learning). There will be times of stress and strife and you will find the role of referee distinctly in your court as well as the role of protector, which you have always played from the beginning.
And though different mothers/managers have different techniques, really our goal is the same: To raise smart, healthy, compassionate (and passionate) children who you are proud of.
(This could also say fatherhood or parenting, but I am specifically relating my personal position as community manager to my motherhood experiences)