When reading fiction, I stick to one book at a time. I love to give a story my full attention, savoring it as it unfolds. Non-fiction, on the other hand, I eat like popcorn. My tendency is to read multiple books on a subject, switching between them. A 360° shotgun blast of ideas and information. I usually can’t remember what book a specific notion came from. All of it melds together into my own understanding of, or at least my interpretation of, the subject.
So I can’t really tell you how the idea of being “aggressively useful” got into my head. It was a recent binge of marketing and blogging books. They author stood by the idea that the content you create has to solve a problem. Not just that, but it has to do so in a big, spectacular, in-your-face way.
On the surface something rang true about it. Of course people will come to you if your blog, your books, your videos, your podcast, whatever, gives them helpful tips. Where it started to unravel is when I began to apply that filter to the content that I consume.
Okay, yes, in reading business books I’m looking for things that spark inspiration. It’s why I read multiples of them, and let ideas blur together. I’ve had epiphanies that were created at the intersection of what one book was saying and what a different book was addressing. That’s a very specific need, though.
The majority of the content that I consume it’s for productivity. It’s for self-care. I’m on a kick now where I’ve been watching videos where a guy restores old Matchbox cars. That is not something that I do. It is not a hobby that I have any interest in getting into. Nor do I have any ambitions of raising pet otters, another current YouTube niche I stumbled upon.
Most of the blogs I read, and the two podcasts I listen to regularly, are not useful. They are not aggressively helpful. What they are is aggressively distracting.
Which, I guess, is obliquely helpful. I am trying to step away from work, from personal worries, and from the inanities of the “real world”. Something that can grab and hold my attention for 10 minutes, allowing me to momentarily forget all of the stress and nonsense, is about the most useful thing I can think of.
Anyway, now I get to go back and consider how to make my own content more aggressively something.