Making something that endures requires that it be important enough that we trade our precious time and talents to make it happen, that people benefit from it and we build in ways that it might live on to meet future needs in ways we cannot imagine today.
Who is it for?
I agree with Jeff Goins who teaches that “we create for someone, not everyone.”
Knowing who we serving with our service or product brings clarity and focus. It also brings freedom. It helps us move past the fear of rejection because when people don’t like it, it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them or our work. What it does mean is that what we made wasn’t for them.
Our work no longer has to please everyone. Instead, it must only add value to the one it was for.
Is your Why big enough to endure the coming storm?
Why are you doing it?
As Simon Sinek teaches, we start with why because people will buy in to our vision not because of what we do, but why we do it. Our why must be big enough to withstand the biggest storm that might come against it. Are we working on the right things?
Giving our work long life
The key to giving our work the longest life possible is a paradox. We must let go of it.
Because very little in our world is static. How resilient is our work to change? For some time now, I’m intrigued with the ideas of Nassim NicholasTaleb. His work has introduced us to the ideas of the Black Swan and the concept of Anti-fragile. That is, we should build systems that should be expected to fail, but with each failure get stronger. His approach is far better than being only robust or resilient. It accepts imperfection and allows us to lean into it so we can continue to improve.
If we want our work to have a short life, hang on to it as tightly as possible. If we want it to survive we should build in ways that will allow others to add, refine, and change it.
What is the foundation?
When focused on the most important, completing our work successfully requires courage .
Courage is required when we know our idea might not work.
We may not know what the end state of our work will be until it is finished. We may not even be the one to finish it. Have you noticed that people completing truly important work don’t typically see what the end looks like? Have you also noticed that they used ideas, concepts, and designs of those who came before?
When we think about where we spend our time each day are we making it count by understanding that the most important work we undertake may not end in our lifetime. We do work that matters because it matters to someone, not everyone, and we do it in ways so those who follow can use it to solve the problems of the future.