God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures. – Francis Bacon
When we are busy we miss most of life – and that is probably becoming clearer to us now as we stay home at this unique time.
Like most parents with young children the weekends were filled rushing from class to class – activity to activity.
And now, there is nothing to do.
Over the last four years that rushing, that incessant activity, has been the norm for everything in life.
For example, although I’ve tried to write every day for the last few years and managed to do so for around 250 days a year – doing it has been like looking out of a window on a train.
The landscape moves past and you spot a lake here, a tree there, a bird flashing by – ideas that catch your attention and then they are gone and you wait for the next one.
At some point, though, you start to think about what is the point – why are you doing this?
For me, it’s been about learning and documenting that learning in these posts.
I am my own audience and if what I put down helps someone else that’s good – but it’s not the purpose of why I write.
But what if you want to write for others – if you want to create something that’s of use to others – how should you think?
As I’ve thought about these ideas I’ve looked at how creators who do this well have developed their skills.
We’re incredibly lucky to be able to see the journeys people take over years and catch up with them in hours.
And in one of those videos Doug talked about what you want from your content – and this is a useful model when you want to create material for other people, not just yourself.
There are three things you need to get clear before you start.
The first is the idea – what is it you’re trying to get across?
On LinkedIn I saw a post from a person who sells double glazing – an industry with a reputation for hard sales and sharp practice.
This chap decided he would do things differently – he created videos and talked about the business – trying to shine a light and show how you could do things well.
His audience? Well, presumably they are people with windows – and Windows.
I can’t think of anyone else who has popped up on my LinkedIn feed with that particular business – and I’d probably be tempted to ask for a quote given he’s connected to people I trust.
And that’s the outcome he’d hope for.
I think it’s easy to think that what you do cannot be easily boiled down to these three elements.
For example, if you are a consultant or a designer – it’s tempting to think that everyone could be a customer.
Surely you can help any size of business or create any kind of design material?
But it helps to focus, to be clear on exactly who is going to be interested in what you’re selling – why they need it and what you need to do to get them to buy.
Now, you don’t always have to have a purpose.
Looking for new ideas is as important as developing the ones you have.
It’s a little like gardening.
Today, we looked out of the window and saw that the Forget-me-nots had taken over the garden.
I don’t know how you can forget them – I suppose that’s the point.
So, we pulled out some, enough to give the other plants some room – and now you can see a variety of colours rather than a sea of blue.
When you’re learning you need to be open to as much as possible.
And, at some point, you need to curate that learning, create a garden where you decide what you’re going to have, and where, and why.
Perhaps then, you get to a stage where you create a garden that others can enjoy – a space for them to sit and experience what you’ve designed and brought to life.
I wonder whether it’s only possible to be that way when you slow down and you have the time – the time to get a broom and clear the path, the time to pull out weeds and take out the dead plants and put in new ones.
Being in a hurry, paradoxically, can mean you are too busy to develop a sense of purpose.
If you want to do that you have to slow down, to take care – to take your time.
Give your ideas the time and space to grow – and you might one day create a body of content that has purpose.