It's tempting to grind out idea after idea until something sticks. The problem is you can burn yourself out and not go deep enough into your exploration. Once you hit the first hurdle - the first dip, as Seth Godin says - you're out.

Don't do a quick hit, but a body of work

Here's Jean-Raymond talking as part of Fast Company's Most Creative People list:

[Creating a collection] two, four, eight times a year doesn't allow you to create your best work... [I'm] adopting the model that's been used in music, where you drop a body of work and tour it for the next year, then take time off and create the next body of work. That gives us the opportunity to do meaningful digital campaigns and activations and bring more people into our idea.

To paraphrase Jean-Raymond, the problem is people don't spend enough time on their work. He was talking about twice-a-year fashion shows. Everyone else? We are under the gun to produce daily. Get that next investment round. Pull in another customer. Write another novel. Go, go, go!

The good stuff, though, needs time to gestate. A Jay-Z may spend only a week recording an album in the studio, but you can bet he spent years thinking about those rhymes, experiencing some life and trying on concepts for size.

You also must separate the work from the releasing. As I share in my book Bring Your Worth, you can create as much as you want, but what you give to the public is an entirely different discussion. It is giving yourself a cutting room floor. It is understanding that every day will not bring about your best work. It is making room for error, which, really, is making room to experiment, and that will yield you the most interesting, impactful results.

The shorter the cycle, the sloppier the results

On a classic Tim Ferriss podcast, Good to Great author Jim Collins explains why he puts a gap between his sought-after books:

I always think of books as having half-lives: Your next book is half as good, and the next one is half as good again.

Whenever he explores a new book idea, Collins' fears that the result will be half as good as the previous book. He thinks long and hard before he commits to the new idea. He's seen too many other authors start talking again before they actually had something of value to say.

I think it comes down to metrics: Why do you have your goal? If it is to only make as much money as possible, then your output will reflect it. If it is to have bragging rights, then your results will feel rushed rather than thoughtful, and so on. Collins' main goal is to serve the reader, which is why he doesn't have a new book every year.

I can relate: My best-selling series The Bite-Sized Entrepreneur was meant to be a back-to-back-to-back trilogy, but I took a year-long pause between the second and third book to get more feedback from my audience as well as gather the best insights to finish the collection. It was a sacrifice, but the results are more likely to stand the test of time.

Both Jean-Raymond and Collins are saying the same thing: Don't rush to the end just to have something completed. Finishing it is just part of the job.

Published on: Jun 12, 2019
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