Do you have a favorite joke? I do, and it goes like this:
Two guys are out elk hunting. They’re crouched down in the woods when suddenly, they see a man running towards them, waving his hands and yelling, “I’m not an elk, I’m not an elk!”
One of the hunters calmly raises his rifle and shoots him.
The other hunter says, “What are you doing?! Didn’t you hear that guy yell, ‘I’m not an elk'”?
The first hunter says, “Oh geez, my fault. I thought he said he was an elk.”
I came across that joke several years ago, in a bookstore in Harvard Square.
I thought it was so funny, in fact, that even 15 minutes later, as I was walking down the street alone, I could barely keep from laughing out loud.
The odd thing is, when I tell that joke to other people, I get one of two distinct reactions:
- Prolonged, hysterical laughter.
- Nothing. Not even a smile.
It’s one of those jokes that people either love or hate. Which makes it, frankly, a little scary to tell.
Unlike most jokes, where it’s simply a question of how much people are going to laugh, with this one, you’re either a hero or a moron when it’s over.
But I keep telling it (just ask my immediate family), because to me, the opportunity for reaction #1 is worth the risk of reaction #2.
Many would-be content-creating businesspeople, however, see things in exactly the opposite way:
Despite having great, compelling ideas and points of view, they are reluctant to put those down on paper – let alone push the scary “send” button when they’re done.
Why? Because to them, the risks outweigh the benefits.
They’re worried that…
… some people may disagree;
… somebody else may have already made the same observation;
… they’re not qualified to express an expert opinion in the first place.
If you find yourself feeling this way – and, as a result, not creating content – I have some terrific, easy to implement advice for you: Stop it.
Because while I acknowledge that it’s a scary problem, it’s actually a very small one. Being criticized for something you may say or write in the realm of content creation rarely happens.
A much bigger problem, and one that happens every day to tens of thousands of professionals, is anonymity.
You’re out there working hard, doing your best, trying to stand out … but few people know who you are, let alone what you do or how you might help them.
When you create and share content, however – newsletters, blogs, videos, infographics, free downloads, podcasts, books, etc. – your reach expands exponentially, well beyond what you can do in person.
Just yesterday, for example, I got an email from a journalist who asked me to comment on an article she was writing. How’d she find me?
She was doing some Googling and found a newsletter I had written that was republished (with my permission) on a different publication’s web site. When her article comes out, my reach will expand even further.
And this happy chain of events? It all began because I created some content and pushed the “send” button.
Here’s the bottom line. Like joke-telling, sharing your thoughts with people you may not even know is scary, no doubt about it. It’s much easier to hang back and let somebody else take the risk.
That said, and given that the risk in creating content is so low and the potential benefit so high, you are missing out on a tremendous opportunity by letting fear keep you on the sidelines.
So try this. Start the new year by committing to a regular schedule of content creation. Don’t worry about how good it is – your job is to just keep doing it.
Pretty soon, it will get better and easier. Pretty soon after that, it will make your phone ring.
And that’s no joke.
- Please share your favorite joke (extra credit if it involves an elk).
- How do you get past the fear of pushing “send?”
- What’s your content creation goal for 2017?
Share your comments below!
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