A few weeks ago, I told you to be wary of advice. Even mine.
Why? Because it’s tempting to believe that if we just follow the right advice, we never have to make any mistakes. Ever.
If your whole goal is to avoid mess, mistakes, and effort by stepping gingerly inside the footsteps of others, chances are, you won’t make much of an impression yourself.
In his handy little branding book called “Shout is a Stain Remover, Not a Strategy,” my friend Gary Kopervas, head creative at the branding agency 20Nine, writes,
“Best practices can be a trap. Experts advise that you look at what successful people are doing in your industry and do what they do…but copycats don’t achieve great things. Doing what other people do—no matter how successful they are—can mute your originality or authenticity.”
Well said, Gary, well said.
What he recommends is that you “work your quirk.”
So you’re thinking, “OK, well how do I know what that is? How do I find or choose that thing? Am I even different at all? Maybe I’m not. Maybe I’m boring. Oh God, I’m a fraud! A horrible, tedious fraud!”
Ok hold up. No, you’re not.
But finding what makes you truly standout isn’t a matter of a mad grab through your junk drawer looking for that screwdriver you could swear was in there.
You need to give yourself the chance to explore your story. You need time, focused attention, and the right container for doing that work (i.e., not on your couch with the news blaring).
And, you need a prompt.
In the Gateless Writing method that I use in my workshops, we use prompts to open the door to new ideas and even old stories.
I’ll give you one right now that you can use:
Think about a time when you felt really torn.
On one hand, it seemed clear what you should do, but on the other, you really weren’t sure anymore. It could have been a big decision. Or, it could have been when you were torn over which brand of BBQ chips you wanted. This doesn’t have to Be Important Work. The goal is to get the ideas out of your head so we can see what makes you tick — without letting your critical mind starting patting them down, TSA style.
Do not analyze. Do not think. Set the timer for 10 minutes. And write.
Now, if we were in the room together, I’d ask you to read what you just wrote. Out loud. To the group.
And we’d then give you feedback. Not to fix your work, but to find its power. What makes it strong. And, show you things in that work you didn’t see. It’s game changing.
This is the heart of the Gateless method. It changed my life and my work. It helped me gain incredible clarity, but also made creating easy and pleasurable and real. It helped me recognize what made my work different. And it can do the same for you.
Want to do this with me? Well, you’ve got your chance.
I’m running a Pop-Up Story Salon in Manhattan on Wed 8/21 from 9-4p.
You can read more about it here.
Space is limited to 12, and we’ve sold about half of those tickets already. FYI.
It’s going to be fun, and productive—kind of like a watering hole for your soul, the part that’s thirsting to do more than work stuff.