I firmly believe that nothing will ever exceed it’s intended purpose. Our “what” will never exceed our “why.” So whatever we pursue in life, it should be fueled by a high level of intention. I often ask writers, artists, and speakers who I work with “why do you write?” or “who do you write for?” These questions not only shape the direction of our work but also give me a window into the heart of the person I am working with. I believe that if one person is affected positively by something I write/do/or say it was worth the effort. I also believe that we should be as effective as possible in how we do things. So how do you stay focused on the one person, but not lose sight of the broader audience? That’s what I want to address in this post.
- Whatever You Do, Do It For The One
Whatever we do we should do it for a single person. It’s much easier to write a song for a person than it is for a faceless mass market. It also makes for a better song because it humanizes the process in a new way. If you’re dealing with clients or customers, it helps to think of them as individuals. We all want to be seen, known, and valued. So aim to create products, services, and experiences that will touch individuals in some way. For me, that means writing songs for people, particular people going through hard situations.
The most meaning songs I’ve written have were written for people going through hard times. Those are also typically the ones with the broadest appeal. Likewise, the love songs that I write are usually based on whoever I’m in love with at the time. Those also tend to be the ones that my audience relate to the most. The best way to resonate with an individual is to write for an individual. So keep that in mind as you do whatever it is that you do.
- See The Value Of Your Work In Terms Of A Single Person
One of the most meaning moments of my songwriting career came when my buddy Jed Bayes and I performed “Hannah’s Song” for her mother. Hannah was a fellow student with us in college and had died in a tragic accident. Jed and I wrote a song about her and God’s plan for her life. We had the opportunity to play it live for the first time, for her mother. Her mom said the song had helped her heal from the pain of losing Hannah. At that moment I knew that if I accomplished nothing else in music, it would’ve been worth it.
Whatever product, service, or experience you offer, make it meaningful for your consumers. Create moments that stay with people. Find ways to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. One of the books I recommend you on this is The Power Of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath. This book really zeros in on how to create these types of things. Whatever you do, make sure it adds value to at least one person, and let that one person be worth the work.
- Once You’ve Focused On One, Focus On Every One
Every person matters, so every person should be touched by what you create. To me, this is fundamental to marketing. You need to have things that are worth sharing and will affect as many individual lives as possible. When you launch a product that will meet a consumer need, it is your job to share it. When you write a song that can help someone, it is your job to make sure it gets heard. If you have a compelling story(which we all do), it is your job to tell it.
Ultimately every time someone benefits from what you do, it is a great feeling. It’s a huge part of why we exist as people. Because we love the individuals we serve(our target market), we want to help as many of them as possible. Once we have created something meaningful, we want to do as much good as we possibly can with it. So once you’ve helped one, help everyone you can.
I hope this has helped. As we continue to work towards our unique goals, I would love to get your thoughts. How do you focus on one person? Let me know in the comments sections.
For many of us, pursuing our calling can seem like an endless chase. We continuously work, without knowing if we will ever arrive, or what arriving would mean. Whether we have started a business, are trying to raise a family, or in my case write songs, the grind can seem endless. It’s not that we don’t enjoy our pursuit, after all, we choose to give our lives to these passions. It’s that we long for a destination that we have not yet reached. So how do we make sense of the situation? What should inspire us to keep going? Should we keep going?
The first thing is that the journey is, in fact, the destination. In his book Shoe Dog, Phil Knight the founder of Nike says the following about running ” When you run down an oval track, or down an empty road, you have no real destination. The act itself becomes the destination. It’s not that there’s no finish line; it’s that you define the finish line.” This is so important to remember. The end goal in music is to be a touring artist. To embark on a journey across the world, that hopefully doesn’t end. Once a person becomes a parent, they never cease to be one. For so many of us, our life’s goal leads us to a daily struggle, a routine, or path that doesn’t seem to end. It’s in the moments when we wonder if we’ll make it, that we must remember that we are making it. One step at a time.
The second thing is to struggle well on the journey. Journeys imply struggle. The stories we love to read about the most are the ones where heroes facing incredible challenges, and still found a way forward. The greater the struggle, the greater the journey. This is true not only in literature but in life as well. While we celebrate those who overcome their struggles, our struggles seem far less glorious. We so often long for the day when we won’t struggle anymore. However, this is not the correct view as Ray Dalio explains, in his book Principles “While I surpassed my wildest dreams decades ago, I am still struggling today. In time, I realized that the satisfaction of success doesn’t come from achieving your goals, but from struggling well.” The question we need to wrestle with is not “how do I avoid struggle on my journey?” but rather “how do I struggle well on my journey?” If we can figure out how to struggle well, we can live out our journey to it’s fullest potential.
The third thing to remember is that the journey gets better. There are higher highs that you have yet to experience. There are lower lows that will strengthen your resolve. There are new friends to make, and lessons you have yet to learn. One of the quotes that became a banner for me as I moved to Nashville comes from C.S. Lewis “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” That was the last thing I read in my driveway in Atlanta. That was the first thing I posted on Instagram. That was what got me to leave the Peach State and start my journey in Music City. Whatever journey you’re on, I promise it will get better. Ultimately, it will make you better, and that makes the journey worth it.
Remember, your journey is your destination, learn to struggle well, and the journey will get better. We’re all on a journey. Travel yours well, and help others along the way.
I hope this resonates with you in some way. What have you learned about your own journey? What principles have guided you? What advice would you share? Let me know in the comments section.