A frail older woman, never married. Living in a large house that she has inherited. Her materials needs are met, but her days are lonely.
Health challenges have confined her to a wheelchair, and she is feeling increasingly isolated. Increasingly … useless.
Her life has very little meaning, and less pleasure. She wonders why she keeps going. And sometimes, very late at night, she considers simply … quietly saying good-bye.
But not today. Today she is having a visitor for tea, a friend of her nephew’s.
That visitor is the renowned psychiatrist Milton Erickson.
And he is going to give her a single piece of advice that will transform her life beyond recognition.
Erickson takes the tour of her house, nods politely at the lovely furnishings. Notices the closed curtains and the air of depression that has seeped into every corner of the house. And he sees the one thing that light’s the woman’s eyes up — her greenhouse full of African violets. The one thing that brings some life to her days.
He listens as she describes her small, constrained life. She leaves her house once a week, for church on Sundays. She arrives late, so she doesn’t “disturb” anyone with her wheelchair. She leaves early for the same reason.
And this legendary psychiatrist gives her no words of therapeutic wisdom. He doesn’t seek to uncover her childhood issues or resolve any Freudian complexities.
He simply makes a rather sharp observation — that, in his estimation, she is not being a very good Christian.
“Here you are with all this money, time on your hands, and a green thumb. And it’s all going to waste. What I recommend is that you get a copy of your church membership list and then look in the latest church bulletin. You’ll find announcements of births, illnesses, graduations, engagements, and marriages in there — all the happy and sad events in the life of people in the congregation. Make a number of African violet cuttings and get them well established. Then repot them in gift pots and have your handyman drive you to the homes of people who are affected by these happy or sad events. Bring them a plant and your congratulations or condolences and comfort, whichever is appropriate to the situation.” ~ quoted in Do One Thing Different by Bill O’Hanlon
Somewhat taken aback, the woman acknowledges that perhaps she has not been as good a Christian as she ought. She thanks the visitor for his company and his advice.
20 years later, Erickson shows a student an article from the Milwaukee newspaper, an obituary about the “African Violet Queen of Milwaukee,” celebrating the life of a generous, caring woman who touched the lives and hearts of thousands.
Near the end of her life. Constrained by health and a lifetime of habit. A reclusive, depressed woman near suicide is transformed … and transforms thousands of others.
What do you have today that you could be sharing?
What are your African violets? What, to use Peter Drucker’s phrase, comes rather easily to you but rather hard to most people?
What do you have that’s going to waste?
It may be your ability to write a warm, engaging article or email that sparks conversation. It may be your sense of humor. It may be your ability to boil down a complex topic into something people can understand.
This is your time. You have assets to share. Why are you hoarding them?
How can you find more people to help?
Since we’re in business to make our customers’ lives better, how can you find more people to help? How can you get your African violets in the hands of more people who need them?
How can you take your particular gifts and get the word out? What’s holding you back from that? Is it a lack of marketing knowledge? Or just a lack of the audacity to actually put that marketing knowledge into practice?
If you could use some help with that …
Our mission this year is to help smart writers and content creators (like you) find a wider audience.
To improve your marketing knowledge so you can find the clients you need (and help them become much more successful).
To increase your audacity so you can tilt your chin up and take pride in what you have to offer.
To enhance your authority by turning what you’re great at into a system for yourself and your clients.
Why? Because the world really needs you. Content marketing is exploding — every day, hundreds of mainstream businesses are discovering how badly they need your expertise.
Literally every business owner I talk with says that their biggest content marketing challenge is finding someone to create all that content.
In other words, their biggest problem is they haven’t found you yet. Because you’ve been hiding. Reluctant. Hoarding your treasure.
Here’s the next step
If you haven’t yet, sign up for our Internet Marketing for Smart People course. It’s free. All by itself, it will give you a solid, proven framework for strategic content marketing.
What you should do to promote yourself, and what you should do to promote your clients.
For thousands of people, the free course alone has been enough to get them to their goals. And if you decide you want something more comprehensive, we’ll be building that for you, too.
The first step is to make sure you’re plugged in so we can start your education. Drop your email here and we’ll get started right away.
Looking forward to seeing you there.
Note: The African violet story is taken from Bill O’Hanlon’s book Do One Thing Different, a great read about how to uncover small changes that can make a dramatic impact on your life. You can also watch Bill tell the story here
Now go do this…
Don’t nod your head and drift on to the rest of your day. Get into the game. Get connected to the material that will show you how to get your best gifts out to the world. Leave your best email address here … and we’ll talk more soon.