When putting our thoughts out into the world, we want them to be clear. By carefully crafting each sentence, we hope that they will be catchy. Through creating our platform (I know, I hate that word too), we hope that our ideas will not only spread, but lead someone back to our “home” on the web. In this pursuit, we boil our ideas down to their essence and attempt to share a simplified version of what we’ve learned. But there’s a danger in this kind of simplicity. Both meaning and complexity are often lost in our clever packaging.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of a well-turned phrase. I enjoy the effort and ability that goes into taking a complicated idea and making it possible for others to understand it. What I’m not a fan of is diminishing the subtext, removing the work that happens behind our words. As readers, we often want things spoon-fed, and in that, we try to take the catch phrase as the entirety of an idea. We avoid digging deeper and convince ourselves that we understand. We neglect to fully unpack the idea. Once again, my buddy Yuvi Zalkow does an amazing job unpacking two well-worn concepts: Malcom Gladwell’s 10,000 hours and Field of Dreams’s “If you build it they will come.”
What’s interesting about these is that while both are well thought out and well phrased, one clearly states the complexity while the other makes it seem all too easy. Gladwell gives you this daunting number that you cannot ever fathom achieving and the ghost of Kevin Costner’s father makes it seem as if the work is all that is necessary. As Yuvi shows us, it’s important to take those 10,000 hours and break them down (sometimes, like Yuvi, you’re closer than you think). In the case of simply accepting that he should be “building it,” Yuvi adds back in essential layers of complexity in what will likely remain my favorite quote of the year:
Work your ass off building it and then start ramping up your advertising campaign while simultaneously improving the quality of your work, and then they will come, and then you will deliver something that’s truly worthy of their presence… – Anonymous
A simple message should never diminish a complex idea; it should lead you to it. It should encourage a reader to learn more. As a writer or creator, we need to understand our ideas well enough to simplify them, but please, never forget the complexity in something that seems simple to you. Be sure the catchy core of your idea has just as much time and credence as the more complicated outer layers. Just because you’ve built it over your 10,000 hours doesn’t mean that the rest of us have.
Related side note: Yuvi is going to be joining us on next Monday’s podcast for the first of his two episodes. You are not going to want to miss it. While you wait, be sure to check out our latest episode with Patrick Rhone.