This week marks LITFL’s 10th blogiversary and the end of another roller-coaster year.
As a result of a significant and persistent series of viral attacks, we have spent the last 12 months re-writing, updating and transferring all content to our new home at litfl.com
Over the last 10 years we have published 10,000 posts/pages; and opened our doors to >100,000,000 visitors. We have seen FOAM go mainstream by becoming an integral part of textbooks and journals as well as stimulating a significant increase in online access to asynchronous medical content globally…for free.
But this has come at a huge cost
Here are 5 thoughts about the last decade. 5 mistakes I have made and failed to learn from. I hope that recording them now will help others in the future.
1) Family comes first
Altruism requires motivation. Not the motivation of fame and fortune but the motivation to do the right thing and innovate to make change for the greater good. Joining forces with like-minded individuals creates a sense of community and drives the process forward as a collaborative tsunami…
But, the online community is virtual – it is not real.
True, you may meet these kindred souls and shake their hands, but the online community is not tangible. The support you afford it is recordable in statistics but not in the innocent smiles and warm hugs of your real family. Social acceptance of a well-timed snapshot can never replace the depth of gaze, breadth of smile and nod of appreciation that you were there – in person.
Family comes first – always.
2) The cost of free is immense
The majority of the resources we use, advocate, promote and build are free to the end-user. They provide primary resources for clinical cases and research, and secondary opportunities for discussion and asynchronous education. FOAM perpetuates the expectation that limitless resources should be open access and available to all…for free
But nothing in this life is free – someone always pays.
Payments range from the financial cost of hosting, developing and deploying software through to the physical amputation of time and the emotional burden of expectation.
Be wise about what you are building and understand your limitations…then follow steps 3, 4 and 5 to keep hold of reason 1
3) Learn to say NO
Of course you want to say Yes to everything, after all you are riding the crest of a wave – making a difference. Your time is yours to give, the requests are only small and they will benefit the greater good.
But the requests don’t stop.
They are genuine enough and appear small, even paltry to the requestor – ‘surely just a minor talk here or a quick chapter there is not too much to ask – nobody is that overloaded with work!’ Then they become larger, more frequent and more onerous often involving travel, expense and time – and the pressure mounts.
Isolated requests aggregate, accumulate and coalesce as an asphyxiating tide of failed promises.
Nip it in the bud early. Multi-tasking is a myth. Value your time – not in monetary terms – but in terms of self-preservation. Do well what you do well. Remember – just because you can write eloquently does not mean that you can lecture well; just because you can code, does not mean you have to code for the world and because you have done a favour once does not justify a lifetime of service.
Individuals learn a lot by finding their own way through the maze. Sure, you can record the path you have taken with petals of prose and illuminate the darkest passageways with insight – but limit physical hand-holding to helping your kids cross the road…
4) Learn who to trust
Altruists are in general open and honest – but don’t expect everybody around you to have the same ideals and principles.
For example your ‘open and honest‘ approach to life can easily be interpreted as ‘easy prey cash cow‘ to a malignant narcissist. Avoid potentially cataclysmic tribulations by learning to identify and distrust individuals with narcissistic traits. Protect your intellectual property and practice self-preservation principles even if it appears to be against your naturally trusting nature.
People are better at receiving than giving – if you are a giver, give wisely to prevent a vicious cycle of expectation.
5) Accept assistance
You are not a one man show.
Embrace the community and join forces with like-minded peers. Look to institutions and groups to share the writing, financial and educational load. There are many amazing people in this world – reach out and make the world a better place
The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.Lao Tzu