This is one of a series of essays originally published in book form as The Content Marketing Hurricane. If you’re interested in a well-rounded content marketing strategy designed specifically for SMBs and solopreneurs, here’s a table of contents to the whole series.
If money and time were non-factors, what would you absolutely love to learn about?
Taking a step further back, how do you feel about learning in general?
If you’re anything like me, you look back at the years you spent in school and kick yourself hard when you realize how much of that time you squandered goofing off or complaining when all anyone ever wanted you to do was learn things. What I wouldn’t give for the opportunity to sit in a classroom for several hours a day every day — FOR FREE! — and just enjoy the process of taking in and assimilating knowledge.
But not everyone feels that way about learning. For some people, reading, studying, and trying to retain information is daunting and difficult.
Some people hate it.
Others can’t stand learning by trial and error. They want to get it right the first time every time, so they spend a lot of time with books and strategies trying to work everything out to the T, sometimes even getting stuck in “analysis paralysis”.
But life is messy, and it’s constantly changing the rules of the game on us as we go.
So this goes far beyond academics. Your willingness and ability to learn is really a measure of your willingness and ability to grow.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
We’ve all been asked that question as kids, and we all had the greatest answers: a fireman, an astronaut, the President…
All really ambitious goals, especially for five-year old kids who couldn’t even spell “president” yet.
Then, as we got older, we started learning and developing. We built up impressive sets of skills and a backlog of experience. We did the best we could to apply ourselves so we could finally graduate and become…
An entry-level clerk in a cubicle? A middle manager in a corporate jungle?
What happened to our dreams? Our impressive goals for our future? Why do so many of us settle for ho-hum when we shot for heroic as kids?
Not to say that an entry-level position is a bad thing at all. Or middle management, for that matter (although from personal experience, I have to say middle management has its suck-factor.)
Sometimes a job is a job to pay the bills. A step toward something else, or a rung on a ladder.
But the problem comes in when you get to the bottom rung on the ladder and you stop climbing.
This applies to a lot more than your secular career too.
Have you stopped learning? Stopped growing as a person?
Have you given up changing?
Be a tree, not a wall.
Sometimes I think man’s ability to build and create so many things has clouded our understanding of nature. Think about this:
When a man builds a wall, it’s a finished thing. He places brick on brick, spreading mortar in-between, and once it’s all lined up and in place, he stops. The wall hardens and it serves its purpose until time and circumstance see fit to destroy it.
A brick wall doesn’t grow. It doesn’t adapt. It just is.
And that’s fine for a brick wall. But what about you?
Instead, think of a tree.
A tree can live for thousands of years. And during that entire time, what is it doing?
It’s growing. Pushing new leaves out of old branches every year. expanding its trunk, shoving roots down into soil seeking nutrients and water, thickening its bark and pushing ever taller.
A growing tree adapts to circumstances, sometimes growing sideways to get to the light, sometimes breaking concrete to get to the soil underneath…
Or destroying a brick wall if necessary.
That’s life in nature. Life never settles. Life never reaches a point where development stops.
Do you know what that’s called? When life stops growing and changing?
It’s called death.
How ambitious are you?
So what’s it going to be?
Life or death?
I know, it probably sounds melodramatic, but seriously. If you stop growing, you’re really dying in a fundamental way.
So how ambitious are you?
How willing are you to look beyond the next minute, the next hour, the next day, and start really taking a good long look at where your life is heading?
Do you have any long-term goals on the horizon? Anything of value to shoot for?
Do you have any plans in mind as to how you’re going to get where you want to go?
Are you prepared to make the changes necessary to improve your life? To meet the people you need to meet? To do the things you need to do?
Because change is always going to be necessary. You’re going to need to adapt to what life throws at you if you’re going to grow.
And it isn’t going to be easy.
How easy do you think it is for a tree root to break concrete?
But it happens. Every day.
That’s because the root is ambitious by nature, and persistent. And it’s not afraid to work hard.
What about you?
How does this affect your content marketing?
OK, I’m back down off my soapbox for a bit, sorry about that.
If you’re hoping to create and grow a Content Marketing Hurricane, your attitude toward learning in general, and learning about your chosen topic(s) specifically are going to have a huge impact on how successful you are.
Content marketing is an evolving field based to a large extent around the fact that you can never finish learning. For that reason, someone who is dead set against learning new things, new ways of operating, and new methods of success is not going to make it in content marketing. They’re simply not a good fit.
That doesn’t mean that success in content marketing has any specific connection to your IQ or your level of book smarts. And as we already noted, it’s not connected to a degree or level of formal schooling either.
Rather, it has to do with your willingness and desire to learn and, by extension, to help others to do so.
Exercise #7 — Brainstorming: Your Willingness to Learn
Imagine you were given a free pass to attend every High School or College class, seminar, webinar, and correspondence course ever devised.
Write a list of all the classes you would attend, and include a brief explanation of what you’d hope to gain from that course.
Now, pick your absolute favorite from that list, go to Google and search “free courses ______” with your choice in the blank space.
Read the next chapter.