Stop what you're doing, take 16 minutes to watch this Gel video of Noah Scalin about his "One Skull-a-Day" project.
As I watched the whole thing twice, my first instinct was to go look for a skull I could contribute. By the third day in the video story, I had to make it a narrative. So I stopped and looked for an image I had saved of a skull that also happens to make an unmistakable brand promise.
So there. Here it is.
I want you to watch it because of what he says about the way things go on the Internet. The story makes a solid argument for adding social technology integration into what you do in your work. It doesn't matter what your job is. Just do it.
In my case, it started as something that was fun. I was looking for ways to connect and be creative, looking for inspiration and learning. Then I started meeting new people, connecting with them, and trying new tools.
It may be the same for you, and, without even thinking about it, you may have a great time.
Then you figure out it becomes a time consuming activity or series of activities, because you start upping your own game. You get creative to stick it out, explore, and try new things. Share what you're doing and your community can help you make it even more fun, like Scalin's.
[Ze Frank has been engaged in that kind of involvement for years.]
When you commit to something like connecting with customers and building relationships in social, often you also have one chance to get it right. At the beginning, if you're the only one who's also doing something else, a day job, it happens in the margins or breaks of that job.
Because when you're engaged you're naturally creative, you attract attention and you get motivated to do work you feel good about.
Thinking about the long term, doing it day in, day out, having something different to offer every day – this probably completely overwhelms you. Which is why many say it's better just to start and figure it out as you go.
Part of the pressure is self imposed because it takes more time out of your day and you start thinking about how to make that time pay off. Part of it comes from seeing some results and looking to justify the return on the time investment for your business to then put in more time and get (potentially) even greater results.
Then you look to plan ways to automate some of what you do to sustain the effort and scale it. And so it goes.
Process engages the left side of your brain, the tighter or buttoned up it becomes, the smaller role will be left for your creativity.
Once you've been at it for a while, you start scheduling every bit of it or outsourcing and (potentially) losing the ability to listen yourself for the opportunities as they present themselves, in the moment.
We start first grade all in the front row with our hand up leaning forward, and we end school hiding behind the last row, unless we know we have the perfect answer.
Once routines or habits are established, it takes serious effort and commitment to get out and just do stuff — going for a run, volunteering, going to an event, paying yourself back by taking classes, or dance lessons.
Spending so much time behind a screen posting messages on networks gives us a sense that we've already checked the connection box. That leads to getting stuck inside our heads, where we compare our insides to other people's (or businesses) outsides.
This is one of the reasons why I decided to just do it — get the workshop out there. My internal talk went something like "there are plenty of events and conferences for social media and business. Do we need another one that sounds like those on the surface?"
The thought that I would not be able to convey how this experience would be different scared me.
As Branson says, screw business as usual. This forces me to get more creative about the format, the space, the context, and the experience. To arrange a conversation where we can uncover and tease out new opportunities together by looking at things differently.
Regardless of whether you feel stuck or not, we all need to do some mental bodybuilding and to reframe things to get to the next level of growth. I know of no better place to do that than in person.
Will we be preaching to the choir? I bank on it to be a creative collaboration. (check out the venue, will you?)
Also see Scalin's Unstuck: 52 Ways to Get (and Keep) Your Creativity Flowing at Home, at Work, & in Your Studio for some simple ways to explore your potential. We did a lot of that in school and summer camp growing up — it was the best time spent on anything for me.