Innovation Comes From Love

Around Valentines Day we talk about love. This year, I’d like to send a Valentine to the work. The work we do as practitioners of content.

One of the things that I’m continually struck by is how many times we “look for the template.” And, no, I don’t mean the content template (although that’s a similar story). What I mean is that as we try to affect change in our businesses – and make content a more strategic piece of our businesses – how often we are seeking the templated roadmap of how to do it.

I taught a series of workshops in multiple cities: our Master Class series. And 99% of the feedback was great (I’m so thankful). But one note stuck out to me. This attendee was disappointed because I hadn’t produced a template for “how to do strategic content in her business.” She had been hoping for the to-do list of things – specific to her business – which would enable her to create an innovative, strategic content approach.

It gets better.

I followed up with this person to find out what I might provide her to ameliorate her concern and help her develop a plan. I offered my book Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing, which provides a detailed methodology for developing a process. I said I could also send her Joe’s book or recommend others. I also offered other follow-up materials (blog posts, e-books, etc.) that might help her. She said,

“I don’t have time to read books. I need to make a business case to my company, and so I’m just looking for a few PowerPoint slides or a template that I can fill out to help me present my case.”

I replied with, basically, the title of this newsletter. 

When we “look for the template,” we’re looking for a key that’s guaranteed to open the door to success. In some cases, the door does open. But because what lies on the other side is inherently unique, and the depth of work to understand the strategy hasn’t been done, the journey usually fails just inside the threshold. 

Now, can we learn from where others of gone or tried to go? Absolutely. Can we benefit from looking at frameworks that help us situate and ground our approach? Definitely. But your map will be your map. The point of making a map is to take a journey that you created.

It’s the work that should be the fulfilling part, not just filling in the answers. That’s where we’re going to find the love for what we do. And if we don’t love what we’re doing, why are we doing it? 

One of my favorite philosophers, Joseph Campbell, said it in the movie The Hero’s Journey better than I ever could: 

“An individual who puts himself to the task of activating his imaginative life – the life that springs up from inside, not from response to outside information and commands – that person can find stimulation … There is no rule. An individual has to find what electrifies and enlivens his own heart and wakes him…

“When you follow your bliss, and by bliss I mean the deep sense of being in it, and doing what the push is out of your own existence … you follow that, and doors will open where you would not have thought there were going to be doors, and where there wouldn’t be a door for anybody else.

“There’s something about the integrity of a life. And the world moves in and helps.”

Love the work. That’s what creates the innovation. The world will move in to help you do it.