Say When

When is this going to be over?  When will things get better?  When can we start marketing again? Tell stories? Go outside? Hug someone? When will it be safe again?

There are times in life when the whole world seems upside down, and completely unsafe. What defines the “whole world” may vary: an argument with a spouse, that one time on the subway, your job, your home life, your friendships. Or – as is the case right now – most of the actual planet.

When these disruptions happen, our personality splits. We want desperately to fix things, but they seem beyond our capacity. We also sit opposite others who are just as confused, and we get flustered by their futile attempts to fix them or their ignorance of the world as it seems now (upside down and unsafe).

Everyone sees more darkness, feels more uneasy. And so we ask again.

When? 

When can we do the things we know how to do?  When will doing those things be right again?

Our deep fear is that the question we’re asking is wrong. It’s not “When will it ever?” It’s “Will it ever?”  Will it ever be over? Will things get better? Will we ever market again? Tell stories? Go outside? Hug someone?  Will it ever be safe again?

The answer is always “yes.” How do I know? Because of us, it already is.

We are the answer. We always have been.

A quote often attributed to writer, philosopher, and storyteller Joseph Campbell summed this up wonderfully: “Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.”

We become attached to the security of the familiar. The unknown becomes scary. We avoid what we don’t understand. But familiarity can become more and more delicate over time. And when some catalyst breaks the familiar – our workday, our home life, our planet – a weird and ironic twist is forced on us.

The familiar now becomes scary, and the unknown becomes the perceived safety. Staying in what we’ve known is not tenable. Evolving and taking steps toward an unknown future seems the only way forward.  We are pushed to change. We are called to adventure.   

You may ask, “When will this change happen? Because It can’t come soon enough.”

Only we can decide when it’s best to change.  As Joseph Campbell also said, “When we talk about settling the world’s problems, we’re barking up the wrong tree. The world is perfect. It’s a mess. It has always been a mess. We are not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives.”

I think this means answering that call to adventure – whatever it is that’s calling us.

If you’re a storyteller, what new stories can you tell? If you’re a marketer, what new ways will you market? If you are an entrepreneur, what new ways will you offer your products and services? If you are a leader, in what new ways will you lead?

Answering your call to adventure doesn’t guarantee that what you seek is easy to come by or that it ever will be had.

The beginning of the adventure is always the darkest point of the path. It’s when the mountain seems the steepest.

So you say when. And that will be enough. When can you start to tell a different story? Look outside with fresh eyes? Hug someone you’ve never hugged before? You choose.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Robert Rose
Chief Strategy Officer at The Content Advisory
As the Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory, the exclusive education and consulting group of The Content Marketing Institute, Robert develops content and customer experience strategies for large enterprises such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oracle, McCormick Spices, Capital One, and UPS.

Robert’s book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing was called “a call to arms and a self-help guide for creating the experiences that consumers will fall in love with.” For the last three years, he’s co-hosted the podcast This Old Marketing, with Joe Pulizzi. It’s frequently a top 20 marketing podcast on iTunes and is downloaded more than a million times every year, in 100 countries around the world.
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Author: Robert Rose
As the Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory, the exclusive education and consulting group of The Content Marketing Institute, Robert develops content and customer experience strategies for large enterprises such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oracle, McCormick Spices, Capital One, and UPS. Robert’s book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing was called “a call to arms and a self-help guide for creating the experiences that consumers will fall in love with.” For the last three years, he’s co-hosted the podcast This Old Marketing, with Joe Pulizzi. It’s frequently a top 20 marketing podcast on iTunes and is downloaded more than a million times every year, in 100 countries around the world.