So here we are:
2020 – a new year. A new decade.
A lot of biz-owners and marketers have been sharing their thoughts about how they see the next 12 months panning out.
One theme I’ve noticed come up again and again is this:
This past couple of weeks I’ve read some interesting emails and posts from entrepreneurs & creatives talking about the uncertainties awaiting us in the year ahead.
(Which made me wonder if there was ever a new year when people DIDN’T have uncertainties about what lay ahead..?)
Still, it’s unsurprising so many people feel that way right now, what with the constant news cycle of turbulent reminders of change we’re surrounded by nowadays.
It’s natural at the turn of a year to get a little reflective and consider your place in the world – especially if you run your own business.
Here’s where that can cause problems though:
Sometimes the dawn of a new year (basically just the flip of a calendar) produces an onrush of ‘goal-setting’ and resolution-making, and we end up making decisions and judgments without having the right information.
The uncertainty of a new year can leave us desperate for answers – of any kind.
But what about the questions that will shape your year ahead?
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably know I’m a big fan of using questions as a tool for making progress, for revealing surprising or hidden truths, and as a way of building better businesses and lives.
In 2020 I’ll be sharing more of those questions with you, to try and inspire you to Sell Unique in your biz by communicating your true value with the people who most need your help.
Some will be practical, some will be dumb fun, others will be a little more philosophical, like this week’s.
To kick off the year, I wanted to share the best thing I read about questioning in 2019…
The songwriter and musician Nick Cave answers questions from fans in a weekly-ish email called The Red Hand Files.
It’s one of the coolest discoveries I made last year, I highly recommend subscribing even if you’re not familiar with his music (though as a fan I wholeheartedly recommend that too)…
In one response, Cave considered his own question-based process, what it means to him and his readers, and how it’s changed in his work over the years.
That produced this beautiful insight:
Spend a moment to look inside most questions and you will find, embedded within, a supplementary enquiry that asks “Are you there?”
…Maybe my songs used to say “Here I am”, demanding recognition. Now my songs ask “Are you there?”, longing for an answer.
…for me the questions are proof of life. Not only your lives, but of my own. Proof of existence…
“Are you there?” I say…
“Yes, I am” they ask.“
I realised that writing this weekly email over the past couple of years has become, amongst other things, my way of asking “are you there?”
And the more I speak with founders and creatives, the more I get the feeling that we’re all doing this, all the time.
Perhaps it’s secretly driving all our creative endeavours:
The businesses we build, the products and services we create, the connections we make…
All powered by the subconscious desire to know that we’re resonating with someone, somewhere out there.
Sure there are plenty of rewards for running a business – money, recognition, freedom, respect…
But don’t we also want our work to make a difference, to connect with people further than the eye can see, to ask the question:
“Are you there?”
It’s the uncertainty of Nick Cave’s ‘supplementary enquiry’ that I see reflected in the doubts we biz-owners carry into each new year…
“Will my business grow like it did last year?”
“Will I be able to attract more customers, or better clients?”
“How might environmental, political or industry changes impact me, my audience, my business?”
Beyond the obvious ones, we all enter the new year with our own ‘DNA code’ of uncertainties.
The upside is, it’s these uncertainties that keep things interesting…
They’re a reminder that each of our businesses, like each of our personalities, is unique.
Our individual concerns, fears, hopes, desires and questions about the future are what shape our work, helping us create products & services that make a difference.
I say let’s embrace the uncertainty…
Bring it on. It’s 2020. Here we go again.
Happy new year!