Nike is only half right. “Just do it” works until we need to “Just quit it.” Only the quitting part seems harder that the doing part.
I had the privilege of hearing Bob Goff speak speak at STORY2012. If you’re not familiar with Bob (and I wasn’t before this conference), he is an attorney with a sense of humor. Impressive! (Those are rare by the way. And, of course, my apologies to my attorney. I do appreciate you.)
One of the things Bob said that stuck with me was he quits something every Thursday. It might be big or small. Further, he explained that everyone in his law firm is on an annual contract. Every year they decide whether or not they want to continue practicing law, working together, and working with the same clients.
I was struck by the freedom that such a discipline provides. Many people launch something new for a variety of reasons. But somewhere in building of a business you get stuck in a routine. Over time, you stop thinking critically about why you’re doing it, what you’re doing, and how you’re doing it.
Bob’s weekly discipline has implications for those of us who exist in the space affectionately known as “organizational communication.” Whether you’re a church, nonprofit, or for-profit enterprise, you were likely more aware of your messaging and communication habits early in the launch phase than you are now. In many ways, communications has become a routine that involves little more than ordinary.
Creating messages that matter—and move people to action—require that we move beyond checking boxes and get back to the basics.
- Do you know who you’re talking to?
- Can you identify their (not your) native content consumption habits?
- Do you know what questions they’re asking?
- Can you speak with authority and as someone with a genuine interest in the subject matter?
- Do you know what response you want to elicit?
- Are you sure that the messages you’re creating are consistent with who you are—and not who you want to be?
Here is the challenging question behind Bob’s example: What do you need to quit, so you can produce messaging that creates a movement and ignites the change you desire?
If you’re honest, you probably need to quit a lot of things. It may even be appropriate to quit everything and start over.
If you’re not willing to quit, rebuild, or—at the very least—rethink your approach to content strategy, maybe you need to ask yourself if you are in the communications game to secure a transaction or to engage a core audience so you can resource them to change their world.
What do you need to quit doing today? List three things right now. Now, quit doing them. Do this again next week…and the next. One day you might actually get to focus on doing the things that matter in the ways that will generate the response you’ve been looking for all along.
Ben Stroup is a content activist in a post-paragraph world. He is chief broker of opportunity at Ben Stroup Enterprises. Connect with Ben via email, Twitter, and Google+. Subscribe via email to learn how to use content to move people to action.