The diminishing returns of consuming content…
And how creation is the secret sauce to accelerated learning.
While working on a new, creative project with my wife, she says to me, “Ugh, you just don’t get Instagram.”
Don’t worry, I cleared this share with my wife. More on her accusation in a bit.
I was scrolling through LinkedIn and stumbled across one of many helpful posts by Justin Welsh, an advisor to high growth SaaS companies and long time acquaintance. He briefly touches on an idea that’s been rattling around my brain for some time. He argues constant consumption keeps us stalled (endlessly searching for “the secret”) while creation leads to substantial growth and learning (“the real secret”). I wholeheartedly agree and layout some recent findings through my own experimentation in this story.
Let’s return to that initial claim courtesy of my beautiful wife. She is working on a creative project she plans to market using Instagram. The other night she kindly shares some of the content she plans to post once she’s up and running. She describes the background colors, drawing style and witty quips of her posts as well as an overarching theme to her work. I am excited for her and intrigued. Then disaster strikes. I ignorantly ask her, “So how are you going to get anyone to see these posts?” Apparently, it was not a helpful question because she closed her notepad and walked away after telling me exactly how little I understand about the social media platform.
Granted, I am a novice’s novice when it comes to Instagram. My personal account proudly serves 526 followers. It is a healthy mix of high school and college friends, family, work associates, random acquaintances and bots. She rightly pointed out her superior 535 followers; who of course are passionate fans and most definitely not bots. When I asked what she attributes her success to, she simply said, “I look at Instagram a lot!”.
This isn’t an article to diminish the knowledge gained from reading, watching, listening to or even scrolling other people’s work. I am a lover of content and credit much of my education to the books, shows and podcasts I’ve consumed. Books are a particularly effective medium for me. I often think my favorite part of reading a book is how I tend to borrow someone else’s lens with which to view the world. It’s like I steal a different perspective if only for a short time. It’s an awesome experience I cannot really achieve through any other practice.
All said, I have been on a creation spree for the last few months and have experienced massive educational gains. I’m bringing more value to my consulting clients. I am blasting through personal and professional projects. I am helping friends and family with their own endeavors. And to what do I credit this explosion in creative energy? It began with picking up a ukulele. I spent 30 minutes following an online lesson. A day later, I journaled for an hour. Then I wrote a poem. Now I am writing a book. The more I create, the more energy seems to flow through me. More energy to create, more energy to collaborate and more energy to learn from the world around me. It’s remarkable. I detail more about this phenomenon in my upcoming book called The Five Buckets. I’m also a big fan of James Altucher who regularly promotes the concept of “building our idea muscle”. He even suggests like a muscle, our ability to ideate or create can atrophy. Instead, he argues we need to exercise the idea muscle and it takes 3–6 months to build up once it atrophies. An example of an exercise can simply be writing 10 ideas down each day. A simple tactic that may lead to some major upside.
Ultimately, I let my wife win the battle and agreed, I don’t get Instagram. Then I invited her to begin creating with me. We have each mapped out a consistent approach we plan to implement over the next month to learn more about the platform and what our potential fans want. She agreed to the partnership and we are both excited to get rolling. Aside from a little education perhaps this is the key to lifelong love as well.
The couple that creates together, stays together.
Until next time.. don’t wait, start small and learn as you go.