Harper was suddenly overwhelmed with the need to make an impression.
She didn’t want to be forgotten, even if it was for all the wrong reasons.
— Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain, Bass Backwards and Belly Up
What’s With This Thing I Keep Hearing About?
I’ve been hearing A LOT lately about the concept of “relevance.” People tell me they want to be “relevant.” People who run business tell me they want their businesses to be “relevant.” They say these things as if being “relevant” — the very word itself — has some enchanting connection to the world and people and success — as if being “relevant” is either-or: win or fail, black or white, yes or no concept. Then, again, I wonder if most of the people who blindly toss that funny word — “relevant” — about (like it’s a Wham-O Super Ball® hoping that the word, alone, will continue to bounce and have impact) really know what it means to anyone, including themselves.
It’s Really About Being Essential . . . And We’re All Essential
Let me suggest that we start agreeing on a common meaning for being “relevant” so we, at least, talk to each other rather than blindly talking past each other. And let’s start with the idea that being “relevant” implies there’s such a thing as being “not relevant.”
If we substitute the word “essential” for the word “relevant” maybe we start getting closer to what we all implicitly mean when we cast aside people as being “irrelevant.”
Some people use the word “relevance” to mean up-to-speed with new technology and methods. They will tell you that if you don’t use the latest engineering, science, apps, and management methods, you are doomed to failure. Thus you are — “not relevant.”
Don’t you think this is such backward and foolish thinking?
Newfangled is Not Always Best
New is not always better.
New is not always efficient.
New is not always effective.
Sometimes it is.
But not always.
Let me give you an example. Tom Hanks is well-known for his love of typewriters. It’s an obsession of his, really. And he works on a typewriter. Many of us grew up with typewriters and would never go back to this type of Luddite tool once we’ve embraced what a computer has to offer. These are preferences, though. Tom Hanks and his working style are still relevant.
The concept of whether someone or some business is relevant or essential or necessary or indispensable comes down how they or it work and the outcomes that are achieved — not necessarily the tools they use. Consistently successful magicians — those who get systematically kick-ass results — have reliable patterns for attainment. And boy do they deliver the goods (just look at Tom Hanks’ accomplishments).
Sometimes they will use new technology.
Sometimes they will use tried-and-true old-school methods.
Sometimes they will use a hybrid approach (Hanks, by the way, has even offered a new iPad app that lets you use your iPad as a typewriter).
These models of abundance know that EVERYTHING IS RELEVANT!
To put is another way — you can’t create relevance.
You simply prioritize.
Choose Your Own Relevance
So, with an understanding that what we really want in our lives and in our businesses and in our relationships is to be the priority — to be the only logical choice for ourselves and others — here are some things you can consider putting into your magical toolkit to stay “relevant”:
1. Always keep learning. Every magician knows that you only die when you stop moving. Keep embracing new ideas. Keep discovering old ideas. Keep synthesizing the old and the new. Take an alchemical approach to life.
2. Embracing new ideas means actually working with them — not just understanding them intellectually. Just because I’ve said that “new is not always better” does not mean that “new is not better.” Great magicians study new wizardly techniques and tools and ideas all the time. They get a working knowledge of them and then prioritize (there’s that word again) how and if they will be used.
3. Stay flexible. Improv artists (I’ve written and talked before about the importance of improv training and that type of mindset for really taking your accomplishments to new heights) know how important the concept of “of course” is to any setting. Aesop (yeah, that fabled guy) once wrote: “The little reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over.”
4. Keep seeking to know yourself. There is a gap between where you are and where you want to be. The challenge for most people is that they fall in that gap and don’t ever climb out. And worse — if they climb out, they don’t fill in the gap so they fall right back in, again. It’s trite to just say, “know yourself.” Take some action and write out your worldview — what’s important to you, what are the rules you live by, how do you make your decisions.
5. Live in the moment. How funny that I work with all types of people and most have a similar pattern — they plan and vie and work for a future goal and then, when they get what they want, they’ve already moved on to another goal. I’m the poster child for being restless. I get being wired to be continually moving. But what good is achieving something if you’re not there to enjoy it? There’s nothing wrong with taking a respite and celebrating an accomplishment. Hell, celebrate the journey, the dance, the song of life. There’s always time to get moving, again.
So, you have a new challenge — framing yourself for yourself (and others) so that you stay connected and applicable to the world and people around you. I’ve given you a few solutions for you to apply. And I want to hear how they are working for you.
What do you think? I would love to continue the conversation with you by you subscribing at http://thinkingmagically.com or joining me on any of the major social media sites to take this discussion to an even deeper level. Post some of your own techniques on my pages on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.