When you look at people who are successful, you will find that they aren’t the people who are motivated, but have consistency in their motivation. – Arsene Wenger
When I’m not sure what to think I go back to the words of people that have been consistent in their approach to their field.
I have made the mistake, perhaps, of reopening the social media floodgates. And stuff pours in, stuff that sounds good but which I’m not sure is worth remembering.
For example, one set of posts was all about how sales are important. Another talked about returns on invested capital. A third, well written piece, essentially said that of business was a game you’d have to keep all the pieces of the game in play.
So then I wonder, should I be trying to write like these writers. Is a short, punchy piece that is a list of short sentences the way to go? Or is it a longer piece that tells a story? Is there a “right” way to do this.
The obvious answer is that there isn’t. Warren Buffett, for example, writes a single letter a year to his sisters about what’s happened in the business. Others write powerful passages that tell a story and aim to provide “actionable” and “proven” approaches to the kinds of problems you will face. However they approach the topic, they show consistency in their approach.
One of the things I’m trying to do is figure out what my kind of consistency looks like. It’s not in the graphics and the look – given my interest in hand-drawn images and a forty-year old approach to text processing. It’s not in a persuasive story or emotive message. It’s a sense-making approach that uses models a lot.
For example, I’ve been working on building knowledge graphs recently and the extract below is from one of the papers I’ve been reading.
This gets across the dilemma I’ve hinted at so far. If you want to acquire knowledge you have to understand that knowledge can range from natural science to storytelling. Knowledge in the natural sciences has to meet the test of public repeatability so it meets a high standard of truth. Stories, at the other extreme, may only be plausible. And plausibility is a weak thing – it’s not enough to rely on. If you rely on things that are plausible you end up joining mobs storming buildings. Not always, but that seems to be the end result all too often.
Life’s too short to believe in stories. But if you’re going to tell one for your business, make sure it’s one that you can live.