Thursday, 18 December 2008

The Beauty Of Making It Up As You Go Along

Much of what I have done and achieved in my professional life has been by accident, rather than a grand plan. Sure, I had some tangible goals (to write a book/ to manage a business/ to set up my own business/ to meet people I admired and respected) but the way I reached those destinations was by default not design. That’s also the way my business has developed through organic rather than strategic growth; it’s about being guided by your gut feeling not by a 5 year rigid business plan. This philosophy is at the heart of my new book ‘Juggle! Rethink Work, Reclaim Your Life’, and seems to resonate with many people I have been interviewing for the book.

The Internet encourages that spirit of ‘making it up as you go along’. By a random click of a mouse you can land on a blog or a Twitter profile of someone who you might never have otherwise 'met'. And that connection can make a big difference to your life or business (hey, after all I met my wife on the internet!). I have made many virtual business connections through such random clicks but would struggle to pinpoint exactly where or how I found/ or these people found me. For example, ‘meeting’ Melissa Pierce and finding out about her project ‘Life In Perpetual Beta’. I cannot remember the chain of events or the chain of click-throughs that took me to Melissa's blog but once I was there I thought I have to connect with this person. And when my friend asked me how I came to discover Gary Vaynerchuk I literally can’t remember but I think it might have been something to do with Robert Scoble. But I can’t be sure.

So, I was not surprised to hear that improvisation is at the heart of Melissa Pierce’s approach to life (it’s what her film is all about). In this blog post she explains how she came to interview David Armano:

'Up until this interview, I had never seen David Armano in person, if fact, all I knew about the internet celebrity I learned on twitter. I had no plan to interview him, I’m not even sure that I know how I came to decide to interview him, somewhere buried deep in my brain lies the answer, but it doesn’t matter. I’m glad I did.

The above paragraph is a brilliant micro-illustration of the point of my lil’ film project here.

I do minimal planning, and I follow my instinct as I find new information, and I add that to my cache of knowledge, which leads me to ask more questions, and be passionate about new things and people. And this whole instinct and improvise thing I’ve got going seems to be serving me pretty well. I’m just rolling with it, I’m planning just enough in advance that I can make the next step. I can’t get it wrong, because I’ll never get it

Melissa’s film includes interviews with a whole load of luminaries from Gary Vaynerchuk to Seth Godin, and rumour is she’s going to interview some bloke called Ian Sanders too.

All this reinforces my belief that you can’t always contrive, plan or strategise an outcome. Because more often, it just kind of happens.

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