Back in high school, everyone would recommend each other music to help us explore the exciting new world of our clunky first generation iPods. I remember one of my friends casually mentioning Oasis’s Wonderwall, and being flabbergasted when he learned that I had never heard it before. To him it was an old track that everyone knew – he hadn’t even thought to tell me because he took my awareness of its existence for granted. I try to keep that anecdote in mind when I share music today (though we have progressed to entire Spotify playlists) – nobody has the same background as you do. Go ahead and throw in that classic that ‘everybody knows’ – they may never have heard of it.
This principle applies to every single piece of knowledge in the world, not just music. Everybody on Earth has trod their own unique path to get to today, which means you can never expect them to be aware of the ‘universal’ truths you take for granted. What are the consequences of this? Don’t be afraid to share information – you never know whose world it might rock.
Derek Sivers points out that creatives often regard their own thoughts as obvious, but those of others as amazing. Accordingly, he asks: “What are you holding back that seems too obvious to share?”
He’s absolutely right. Your world is obvious to you because it is the only world you know. Your thoughts are obvious to you because you have thought all the thoughts that led up to them. Your creations required a little more effort to bring into reality, but the idea for them was nothing special in your mind. Yet to others, they are pure genius – never in a million years could they get to the same point you did, due to their distinct background.
By sharing your creation, you negate all the space in between their view and yours, bringing them to a new place of understanding that they could never have gotten to on their own. And it was so easy for you – in fact it was obvious! So share! Inspire others, give them handholds to climb even higher towards their own aspirations.
I experienced this firsthand after receiving multiple compliments about my writing style from readers of my travel blog and Matador work. I barely even thought for many of those piece – I simply put my thoughts on paper. Yet readers were being blown away. It made me want to put the rest of what is in my head down in writing – what other wonders are in there that I take for obvious? I’ll never know, until I show them to someone else. Nor will you know yours, until you do the same
This principle extends from your own creations to the things you expose yourself to in life, as well. I try to keep this in mind whenever I am hesitant to share something on Facebook for whatever reason, or even in on this blog. I think: ‘This was on the front page of (Reddit, HackerNews, Tumblr)/five people have already posted it/it’s trite, not even worth sharing”. But your Facebook network is a textbook example of people from different backgrounds all gathered around one common point – you. What’s obvious (or overplayed, or old) for the majority of your network is brand new for a solid minority of it. And you never know how it will affect those people. I’ve shared trite videos that ended up getting re-shared multiple times and surely brought smiles and laughter to several new faces -that’s a pretty good payoff for an effortless click on my part. The actual cost is low, but the opportunity cost is high.
Therefore, never be afraid to share – be it internet snuff, your thoughts, and least of all your creations. Your whim is another’s epiphany. And if they don’t like it – well, either you are not going to hear anything, or they will bring it up with you, which can result in constructive feedback on how to make it better, or at least a different point of view than your own. An open world is infinitely better than a closed one, as the Internet is constantly proving.
What fantastic alternatives are you missing out by keeping it to yourself?