Show Your Work – part 1

Show Your Work, by Austin Kleon

You don’t have to be  a genius

Find a scenius

“Lone genius” is a dangerous myth, actively detrimental to success. Being part of a community (a “scenius”) is far more valuable than going alone – sharing ideas freely creates more ideas and each contribution, however small, is worthwhile. Shared resources, networking and an “ecology of talent” will get you further than you’ll get alone.

Internet communities, blogs, email division lists, chat servers – all sceniuses (scenii?).

“Stop asking what others can do for us, and start asking what we can do for others.” (pp12)

Be an amateur

Amateur – an enthusiast who pursues their passion regardless of the potential for fame, money or carer.

Unconstrained by the need to perform, amateurs are free to experiment with new things, follow ideas and whims share, geek out and celebrate their passions. They aren’t afraid of looking foolish if something doesn’t work out because they love engaging in their passion. The hallmark of an amateur is ‘learning out loud’ – succeeding and failing publicly and unashamedly.

Find a scenius, look at what others are sharing and – more importantly – what they aren’t sharing, and look at how toy can fill that vacancy. Do what you love and people will come to you.

You can’t find your voice if you don’t use it

Your voice is an intrinsic part of how you think about the world, informing what medium you use and how you use it, but the only way to find your voice is to talk about the things you love and that inspire you and why.

“If your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist.” (pp23)

If you want people to know who you are and what you do, speak up.

Read obituaries

One day, you will die.

Staying mindful of that unassailable fact keeps you focused on the importance of every single day. Kleon calls obituaries “near-death experiences for cowards”. Seeing the sum of a person’s life in print, thinking about death every morning, makes them want to go out and live.

Recommended reading:

  • Cognitive Surplus, Clay Shirkey
  • We Learn Nothing, Tim Kreider