In the past few months I have been circling the wagons and getting the website rebuilt with the aid of Splitter Designs. I was confronted with the disparity between what I wanted to create and the reality of what I have been producing . The last few years have felt pretty unfulfilling–hollow, as though something has been missing from my work. I looked back at the posts and pictures and kept thinking ‘Is this the vision? Is this the best you have to give? Where is the passion, the fire and the cutting edge?’
One of the things that has been skewing my vision over the last few years is a desire to be perceived as successful in order to attract sponsors. How else does and athlete/speaker/artist feed make a living? No one wants to sponsor failure. I needed to make a living doing what I do–creating adventure media that inspires people through my struggle with type 1 diabetes. As that reality grew, it stole my fire–my joy. I stopped speaking to the people who were supporting me and I moved on to the people who didn’t care, who needed to be convinced of the value of the LivingVertical mission. I wanted to convert new followers more than caring for my existing ones. By simply reaching more people, I hoped that I could develop LivingVertical into a quazi-Team NovoNordisk, replete with corporate support and hundreds of thousands of followers–and a salary that could support my work and my family.
What I have found reflecting on all of this is that there is no shame in failure if you choose carefully the hill on which you are prepared to die. There is no honor in measuring success in terms of mass appeal or financial gains. I am returning to LivingVertical–full time until I cannot sustain it further. I have returned to the reason I started blogging and filming in 2011–to shake things up. To challenge the perception of chronic illness as weakness and to inspire interaction with the natural world around us a the means to win the battle for our minds. I don’t think my work will ever be a “good fit” with selling drugs or devices. I am fine with that. I’m done measuring success based on distracting people who don’t care. This may be the hill on which LivingVertical goes to die and while it may never be trending on Twitter, it will be honorable and true to the vision that inspired its origin.
I am thankful to have every one of you here–because you do care (or you wouldn’t have read this far!)–and you are the audience that I should have been serving all along. I am sorry for failing to see that over the last few years. I am lucky to have finally put my finger on what was missing in LivingVertical. Now let’s go rattle some cages and challenge the conventional wisdom, the marketing drivel and the stereotypes. There’s still work to be done around here.