Why it’s better to create than consume

(Prefer to listen to me read this post instead? Just play the video above).

This morning I was browsing the Smart Passive Income Facebook group and a group member mentioned that he’s just read Chris Guillebeau’s new book Born For This. He said he’d found it good, but the content was basically the same as books by many other authors, and had anyone else noticed this?

My take on this is that although demand for this kind of book is almost insatiable, the basic advice they can give you is limited. It usually boils down to something like…

1. Decide what you want to do with your life

2. Reduce your debts and simplify your life

3. Look at what product or service is in demand and meet that need

4. Set a goal and make a plan

5. Implement

That’s just the way it works. So each author is mostly putting his or her own spin on the same information. And there’s nothing wrong with that, because they are just practicing what they preach in step 3. But eventually many readers realise that even though they’ve heard it all before they are no further forward.

At that point the message you hear – loudly – from many personal development experts is ‘TAKE ACTION!’ This has its merits, but it can also take you down the road of being very busy but having little to show for it in terms of results. Because after spending a bit too long reading and accumulating knowledge it’s tempting to burst into action and do everything at once. What you’re missing then is direction. And without results, you’ll eventually burn out.

So what’s the answer?

Here’s what’s worked for me. I switched my mindset from consumer to producer. I can’t take credit for that idea because it came from the book ‘The Millionaire Fastlane’ by MJ DeMarco. I still read books and take courses, but my main focus is to produce.

So I read and study with the intention of producing something specific from it, rather than just reading and studying for its own sake. That means that I implement what I learn and rarely waste time learning things I don’t need to know now or things that will be out of date before I do need them. There are loads of resources set up for exactly this ‘just in time’ style of learning, Lynda.com being one of my favourites, but ordering five or so well-chosen books from Amazon can work well too.

I was also influenced by Lynn Terry of ClickNewz who suggests only learning what you can implement immediately. In fact in her latest blog post she says to ‘create as much content as you consume’. I’m not sure I’m quite there yet, though!

The challenge is being focused about what you need to know, when you need to know it and in how much depth.

create don't consumeBut to get back to producing, what does that actually mean? Well, I focus on creating things to give away and sell, so that could be books, videos, courses, recordings or blog posts like this one. Each one is like a little asset that might appeal to someone, help them out, make me some money or be useful in some other way. It’s a two-way process, too. In making and sending things out there, I get feedback, so I can make my next ‘thing’ better, more useful or better tailored to what people want. I also improve my skills (my videos are far better than they were a couple of years ago, and that’s because I’ve had more practice) and discover what I do and don’t enjoy doing. So over time I home in on what I’m best at and enjoy the most.

That’s in terms of work. The same pattern has slipped over into my spare time, too. The trouble is I don’t actually have much spare time, so I have to make the best of it. I got back into sewing and crochet a year or so ago mainly to counteract my social media addiction. 🙂 I found it therapeutic to step away from the PC and Android phone and make something non-digital for a change. But even then the the same approach works – stop reading and learning and go make something instead. It doesn’t matter if it looks terrible and falls apart, because it’s the best way to learn.

I’ve now got involved in a community arts project called Weaving Narratives which is getting me way out of my comfort zone because the other people involved are proper artists! And I’m most certainly not one of those. But the exhibition at the end of it is forcing me to produce, which is making me try new techniques, meet new people and is introducing me to a whole new way of thinking, which is artistic and creative versus my more usual logical and analytical. All good stuff if a little scary.

For me, a producer is active, curious and experimental. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it makes money, sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s cumulative, because you’re homing in on what brings the best results and dropping the rest. And all the time weaving in new ideas, techniques and people. That’s compared to a consumer who is absorbing other people’s stuff, using it up and not necessarily moving forward. The producer mindset is active, the consumer mindset is passive.

Well, that’s my take on it, how about you? 🙂 Please let me know in the comments…

5 thoughts on “Why it’s better to create than consume

  1. Hi Helen, to only consume suppresses your natural creativity!

    Believe it or not, I only consume what’s directly related to what I want to know, and then only to establish the person’s credentials. I then book them and have them teach me directly. This means I learn from the original, rather than the hundreds of rehashed versions out there. I prefer to do all of my own testings and share my own truth rather than be part of the echo chamber. It doesn’t make me popular or mainstream :).

    I like your last paragraph, at the moments before launch, most creators wobble and give into their resistance. They say it’s not feeling right, it’s not ready, and hundreds of other excuses. And the reality is, they base this on their fears rather than facts, and ultimately to do that and not base it on evidence is their ego speaking.

    • So true Sarah, that last minute wobble can be a killer but you have to get over it if you’re going to progress. The great thing about screwing up online is that if you’ve only got a small following most people will just ignore you and forget about it because it only takes about 10 seconds for something else more interesting to come along. So you haven’t got much to lose. By the time you’ve got a bigger following you’ll have a better idea of what you’re doing. That’s the theory, anyway!

      I think this ‘I only consume what’s directly related to what I want to know, and then only to establish the person’s credentials. I then book them and have them teach me directly’ is taking what I mention in this post to the next level and it’s a great idea. I’ll mull that one over.

      And ‘to only consume suppresses your natural creativity!’ …definitely!

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. I am a producer too and try and create lots of content. But right now I am also focusing and learning more marketing type of things. Improving my on page SEO, branding myself with a new website and just getting exposure for my business.

    Love your video and your voice is wonderful! Have you thought about doing a course/product on how to produce video? Tips for adding good sound tracks, how to reduce background noise and more.

    I have done my share of releasing products and have those last minute wobbles for sure, but push through and just go with the launch. Still working on improving that area too.

    • Thanks Sue! I also go through phases when I produce a lot then others when I pull back a bit and spend more time absorbing, so I know what you mean. That’s a great idea about course production, I have done something on that before but it was part of a membership site so not as focused and targeted as I would have liked it to be. I could certainly do a course if I allocated the time to it. Just got to find the time!

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