The horror and neglect of the obvious

La Chartreuse - Not Thorough Enough

Aggravate the most useful human characteristics, the horror and neglect of the obvious.
– a senior devil’s advice to his junior in CS Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters

Earlier this week, I wrote one of the most popular articles I have ever produced. It was an exploration of the question What if you decided that everything you did in your business had to produce both cash AND joy? and how that decision would revolutionise your business.

It got dozens of compliments and private OMG emails, a thousand reads within the first hours, and a lot of new readers.

And for me, it was the most pedestrian and boring thing I have ever written.

This is why.

A typical work day for Catherine

6:30am Wake up, go for a jog, feel smug about being the person who goes for jogs regularly enough that she can write this down.

7:30 Commence writing an article about marketing when you want to produce both cash and joy.

8:00 Free 30-minute Marketing Check-Up spent talking to a client about how they could make enough money to continue the business that brings them joy.

8:30 Finish writing article about marketing when you want to produce both cash and joy. Eat breakfast.

9:00 Spend an hour on a Goddamn Radiant session, helping a client find the permission in her pocket to let go of the work that brings in cash but no joy.

10:00 Get some sunlight.

10:30 Twitter and email.

11:00 Be interviewed about DIY Magnificence, and why creating magnificent work is the best path to cash and joy.

11:45 Write a chapter for upcoming resource on how to determine whether your work is producing enough cash and joy.

2:00 Realise I forgot lunch and wrap up for the day.

Time spent thinking heavily about cash and joy and how to market for both: 6 hours. Every day.

Your typical work day

8:00am Do your thing.

10:30 Do your thing.

11:45 Read article about what would happen in your business if you decided that everything needed to make cash AND joy.

11:55 Do your thing.

3:00 Do your thing.

Time spent thinking heavily about cash and joy and how to market for both: 10 minutes, a few days a week.

Well there’s your problem.

Of COURSE an article talking about what would happen if you decided to make everything in your business produce cash AND joy would be painfully foundational for me to write.

I talk about this allllll day. And since I have spent so much time talking and writing and thinking about it, the core concepts are second nature to me. Obvious. Boring, in the same way that a slow and in-depth coverage of the alphabet would be. (“G, huh… I wonder what that’s all about.”)

But they’re not old-hat to you. That article was a clue-by-four upside the head for dozens of people. They said things like:

  • I loved it. I have been needing to hear that for so long!
  • Wouldn’t that be fabulous??
  • My commitment phobia just got nailed to the mother-lovin’ WALL.
  • Fave thing u’ve ever written, i think.
  • AWESOME! (and, yes, that’s me shouting)
  • HOLY COW! This lady rocks my world so hard! Mammamia!

Because to them this was new. Different. Just a skootch to the left of the established path where their thoughts mostly go. (Not too far off the path, because then they wouldn’t have connected with it. More like Pippin taking a few steps to the side of the great trampled swath of the Uruk-Hai in order to drop his elven brooch where it could be found.)

The point where I get to give myself a gold star

I knew that this would happen.

I knew while I was writing an article that felt to me like the most screamingly obvious set of trivialities ever that it would be useful to many people. (Otherwise I wouldn’t have done it, natch.)

Because I do try hard to remember that while I spend all day talking about this, I only talk with one person at a time. Every other person spends the majority of their time doing things that are NOT talking about magnificence-based marketing with the goal of making cash and joy. And since I want to work with those people, I have to get out of my expert pants and re-explore old territory for new travellers.

Here’s a conversation I’ve had too many times with clients.

“That’s really fascinating. That’s obviously important to you… do you talk about that aspect of your work often?”

“Oh, well. I definitely wrote a post about it when I started.”

“When was that?”

“… three years ago?”

If it’s important, you have to come back to it often. Clearly, the idea of working for cash AND joy is a fundamental one here – it’s the name of the business, after all! – but that doesn’t mean I should take it for granted.

What are the core assumptions of your business? The things that someone would HAVE to believe to work with you?

And when was the last time you talked about them?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Shoes on Wires

15 thoughts on “The horror and neglect of the obvious

  1. This morning I was just thinking about the block I’ve been having around blogging about my influences (that shaped my sense of aesthetics and “holy-cow-that’s-beautiful-and-nifty”) and my tools/techniques (that directly affect how I make what I make). I’ve been nebulously meaning to start writing about them for a few weeks, but struggling to do so–“obvious” doesn’t even begin to describe how it all feels. This post was a great nudge to actually write about some of that stuff–and now I have some hopefully-useful thoughts on how to step back from my “yeah, yeah, so what” mentality when I’m doing so. Thanks for laying it all out like this 🙂

  2. Pardon me while I whack my head into a wall over the obvious that I SOMEHOW MISSED, and then go start writing posts about how important to me it is that none of my ingredients are crap, and why.

    Also, thank you.

  3. It’s also the mindblowing difference between writing for your peers, and writing for your prospective customers. It can be so haaaaaaaard to be simple.

  4. If you’re good at something, it’ll be obvious to you and you’ll feel like “Duh! Why should I write about that? Like, everyone knows that already.” Good point that to others this isn’t true. Maybe our own standards are higher than others’?

  5. I’ve had this tab open since last night trying to figure out something clever to say, but I can’t seem to! So I’ll just say: thanks again, Catherine, for bringing us another “…oh. *headdesk*” post 😉 I need to print this out & post it somewhere obvious. Where it cannot be missed.

  6. So yes. Obvious. I just experienced the power of this – wrote a guest post on a technique I use all the time and have written about (it seems to me) endlessly, and got about 35 signups to my list.

    It makes me think, “Hmm. Foundations of Amazingness course?”

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