Jim sat on his dingy bed.
Around and under the centre of his universe were the bits and bric brac of a life collected. Books, a radio and just some tired essentials. Some of these were the leftovers of Jim’s story. Dog eared photos of past relationships and distant memories.
The boundaries of this one room dwelling were not wood, stone or walls as most of us know it. But chicken wire side and top. The crooked door sat open. The stale smell of breakfasts, bacon and burnt oil lingered in the still air.
There were many of these cubicles that housed men whom life had left behind. These poor houses of New York were a place to stay before living on the street became the final destination.
David knocked. He wasn’t quite sure who was in the room.
David Isay was a journalist and founder of StoryCorp. He was starting a new project to write a book about capturing the lives of ordinary people. Not billionaires, millionaires or successful scholars or artists.
He was in the right place.
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We all have a story
David believed that everyone has a story that is worth capturing, publishing and sharing.
In that room Jim shared his past, his failures and frustrations. David’s notebook started to fill. This was repeated many times as the book’s multiple players were interviewed and assembled.
A few months later the book was ready. David took a copy and dropped in to see Jim.
As he opened the book to the simple one page story, Jim saw his name in black and white. His eyes widened. The book was snatched out of David’s hand and he ran down the corridor and said “I exist…..I exist….I exist”.
It was a simple but public revelation of a life lived. But an ordinary life had been validated and acknowledged. That is what we all want.
To be validated. To be noticed.
You don’t have to wait
Jim had to wait for David to show up to be discovered.
His desire to be recognized was dormant but quietly wished for. His tale was now told. It wasn’t Broadway, Hollywood or the front cover of Time magazine but the recognition was real.
Just hoping for someone to reveal your story and disclose your existence to the world is mostly just a hopeless dream. Sitting and waiting for the world to show up is not how life should be lived.
It does not have to be like that. But many of us live our lives built on idle hope.
The game of life has changed
In 2008 I discovered social media and I was intrigued and curious. I observed behaviour that bordered on obsessive.
Facebook was my first place to play, watch and chat with people and Twitter was next. Digital publishing platforms were also in the mix. WordPress and Blogger made creative portals to publish your creativity with the world easy and free.
I discovered that the social networks are much more than places to share food photos.
Social media is where humanity and technology intersect. The social networks allowed visibility and global marketing without paying any gatekeeper or media mogul. It was a game changer.
The social web had democratized publishing and marketing and it amplified our humanity.
It’s more than play
You just need to decide whether you want to just play or use it to transform your life.
Do you want to reveal and manifest your passionate purpose to a waiting world at full throttle? Is there a voice that sits inside and says “there is more to life than this existence”
If you are willing to start and transform a passion project from a hobby to a lifestyle of substance, then you can build and leave a legacy that maybe you had only dreamed about. You can become a person of influence.
Here is a new mantra that goes beyond just an acknowledged and recorded existence.
I create, I publish, I exist.
That is a place where real personal growth happens. But you will need to take some steps to make that a reality.
There is no need to wait or be discovered by a journalist.
How do you create influence in this digital world? How do you make a difference?
What makes us fully human?
Within all of us are dreams. The burning desire to create something of consequence. To build a legacy that says “I made a difference”.
This superhero was there when we were five. But some of us had it removed when the adults took away the crayons and the Superman outfit and sent us to school.
We heard the words and phrases.
Don’t make a mistake, color between the lines. Don’t be different.
But being distinctive and diverse and maybe even peculiar is to be embraced. Going with the crowd will only achieve one thing. Anonymity. That it is a place to die not thrive.
Constructing that life of consequence needs creation. Just being a part of the team, attending meetings and showing up each day to the corporate cubicle is just “doing”. Many writers leave their best stuff behind when they exit their organisation.
They don’t write for themselves but others. That’s a waste.
Creating has many coats
Some of us write, others draw and some even sing. I missed that one. Programmers and engineers create.
Creative crafting is hard as it means you have to distil noise, complexity and confusion into clarity. Writers need to wrangle words into coherent structure. Song writers need to take singular sounds that flow and pop and delight. Symphonies are written one note at a time.
Connecting the dots does not bring joy or happiness. It is just compliance. To conceive, build and forge a creation that touches hearts and minds is where being human is at.
But creating for all its romance….. is still just the start.
Creation on its own is not enough. It’s just the first step on an adventure should you be brave enough to begin.
Creating in the quiet dark corner of your home is fun. But the real magic happens when you step into the light. Making your work visible to the world. The writer publishes, the artist displays and the musician shows up at the corner bar to ply his art.
This is publishing with a big “P”
Tradionally this cost a lot of money and time. Travel, hiring venues and paying the gatekeepers and analog platform owners to give visibility to your art.
Here is a short video on the power of publishing and sharing your passion with the world.
This is daunting
You are suddenly vulnerable, open to judgement and loss. The critics may throw stones and the crowd may heckle. The doubts that creep in? Why would anyone want to read my poem, my post or my book?
There are many people that are smarter and better than me.
I can’t publish until I have got it just right. Perfection is the enemy of starting.
You now have the power
20 years ago the reach of the individual was restrictive.
Written words on paper pages didn’t move easily. Publishing contracts were the only way to be a “published” author. It was often a journey of two years from writing to publishing. Now it is one hour from an idea to a blog post that goes viral.
The social web has made us all publishers and marketers. We all can publish and market without seeking permission or paying for it. Our creations and art can be transformed into digital formats. Recording and re-producing your knowledge and art on digital platforms puts the power in your hands.
It has also facilitated learning in real time.
You grow as you forge and share your creation and receive feedback in real time. Reaction and comments can be cruel and kind. But that is a place to grow.
Publishing with hustle
The social web and new technology has made it easy to make it public but publishing that is noticed needs hustle. That is code for marketing.
The new rules for marketing and selling have been amped up.
Joseph Sugarman (the famous copywriter) in the book “Copy Writing Handbook: The Ultimate Guide To Writing” was confronted by a top salesman.
“Joe, I really admire you. I can sell to anybody on a one-to-one basis. Put me up against the the toughest customers and I’ll melt them down and sell them.
But you have the ability to do that on a scale that dwarfs mine. When you sell you mange to duplicate yourself and sell to millions of people all at the same time”
The art of communication on the social web has amplified the marketing and selling process and now you can sell to thousands and millions of people at a time.
That is the power of published content and words that move on the social web.
The reality is that growth happens in plain sight when you create and publish to a waiting planet. This is not just existence. It is where you fly.
Done with persistence and passion the result is magical manifestation. The world shows up at your from door. People are attracted to visible vulnerability and insights that reveal your unfolding story.
How do I know?
When my passion project started and it was shared the opportunities started to show up in my inbox and on Facebook and Twitter. Invitations to speak, consult and collaborate. But this was not an overnight success. It was a marathon.
Once is never enough
Creating and publishing once is never enough if you really want to grow.
The growth loop starts with a habit of persistent personal creation and ends in validation. That validation and feedback includes social proof such as online comments, sharing and traffic to your content and creations.
This creation feedback loop can be addictive. Attention is a drug and it’s a trigger and provocateur for production. The social web has revealed how that works.
The essential habit
The creative addiction loop is where you publish and are validated in real time. It is the circle of awesomeness that will transform your life from invisible to global influence and success.
But it requires habitual creation. This is “deep work”. Work that makes a difference and is life legacy building.
Busy-ness or shallow work is often just a distraction to the real game of life. Don’t let the trivial stop the significant.
But you need to do the work. Strap yourself in and nourish a habit of creative production.
The creation cycle
The last piece of the transformative art of creating and publishing on this social web is often not expected or explained. Many teachers never revealed this wisdom. This happens in a cycle of constant creation and publishing. This rhythm is where we all grow.
Personal growth sneaks up on you.
The constant creation and feedback loop is a virtuous learning cycle. As you distill your thoughts and articulate your ideas they take structured form.
So how do you get better at the things you create and care about? How do you take your passionate purpose and become the guru, the star or maybe even an influencer?
How does optimal growth occur?
Eduardo Brice in his TED talk talks about two key component zones for optimal growth.
- Performance zone
- Learning zone
What is the performance zone?
We perform at work….in public. Doctors diagnose and teachers teach. But performance is not enough. But the practice of performing can be the revelation of mastery.
Monastic learning away from the public performance is where the real optimal growth occurs and true mastery happens. The saw needs to be sharpened. Quiet persistent education.
The learning zone is where your read, research and test in private. It is where you expand and discover new ways and creative techniques. This then feeds back into the performance.
Eduardo’s advice is something that I can verify. Do both for optimal performance then perform, reflect and then adjust.
Success and personal growth requires a lifetime of continuous learning
That is how transformation happens.
Over to you
The social web has transformed my life. It has amplified my creations and humanity.
It started with a passionate curiosity. The engine room was developing a habit of daily creation and publishing. Then I built an audience and community before I needed them.
I created, published and the world showed up.
Then it’s up to you about where you want to take your life or your tribe.
You can build a business, influence an industry, go on the speaking circuit or leave it as a passion project that feeds your soul. You don’t even have to leave your job or take a big risk. It can be a side hustle that is done before you commute to work or after hours.
That’s up to you.
The power is in your hands. And you don’t have to wait to be discovered.