Your office is taped off with police tape. A detective walks into the room wearing sunglasses "What happened here," he mutters to no one in particular. "In all my years on the force, I've never seen anything this brutal." There on the floor in front of him is the sickening scene.
It's your joy, and it has been absolutely butchered.
"What a needless tragedy," a rookie cop exclaims, barely able to contain his gag-reflex as he stares at the horror before him.
The clues of what happened are all around. And the rookie cop is right.
It is a needless tragedy.
If you create content (and let's be honest, there are very few in leadership who aren't creating something) you recognize the joys of doing so. You made something. It is yours. You worked hard to fulfill your job as an image-bearer of God by creating something that previously did not exist. How cool is that?
But being a content creator is really hard as well. There are days of frustration when you can't gather your thoughts enough to put together something coherent. Since it is so frustrating, the temptation is to quit. But listen: much of the pain we actually inflict upon ourselves.
How do we do that?
Here are three ways that we murder our joy as content creators.
1) Letting the Perfect being the Enemy of the Good
Ever not create something or abandon a project because you knew it wasn't going to perfect? Ever grow increasingly disgusted by the work you make because you can see its flaws, even though those around you talk about how great it is? You tell yourself, "I have high standards and this work just isn't good enough."
Maybe you do. Or maybe your just finding a good reason to shoot your joy straight in the forehead.
In his great biography of Leonardo Da Vinci, Walter Isaacson points out that Da Vinci held on to many of his best paintings, like the Mona Lisa, till near the end of his career because he knew he could always add another brush stroke. If a painting didn't satisfy Da Vinci, he would abandon it rather than creating a painting that was merely "good enough." Isaacson believes that sometimes this is good for us to do.
What Isaacson neglects to mention is that Da Vinci jotted down many of his ideas, many which were ground breaking, but because he never shared his work his ideas died with him. Many of his medical procedures would have saved lives--but they weren't perfect so Da Vinci abandoned them.
You aren't Da Vinci. You are you. And you have something the world needs.
Your imperfect content could save a life. Art has that power. Words have that power. Someone needs what you are making today. They don't need it perfect. They just need it.
2) Follow your Social Media Responses like a Creepy-Ex
For the love of God, turn off your notifications when you post something. I say this as someone who waits for the "likes" to role in after posting some pithy statement on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
But I feel so dirty when I do that. Who am I creating this content for, ultimately?
Others? Or my ego?
Because when you create something and then want immediate feedback, what you are really saying is "Validate what I made so I feel good."
But that is such a sad way to live. Worse, it such a sad way to create.
Which is why you feel empty after a short amount of time and feel the need to post again.
It's addictive. But it's also a joy killer.
And kinda creepy.
If you are the person who as you are talking with someone checks your notifications to see what people are saying about your work and totally forget what you are saying to the person in front of you...YOU ARE STRAIGHT MURDERING YOUR JOY.
Consider doing the following: make your post, turn off the notifications, and then take the rest of the day to work on something else. Don't check how your post is doing. Just enjoy the fact that you made it, it is out there and then rest.
3) Hit the "Easy Way Out" Button Repeatedly like a Rat Trippin' on Drugs
I read a study one time where some scientists hooked rats up to an I.V. The Rat could either hit a button for food or hit a button and be injected with cocaine or heroin.
They frantically hit the button for drugs.
Here is the deal: I do that same thing when it comes to taking the "easy way out" and if I had to guess, you are too.
This is a broad statement because the "easy way out" looks different for each person, right? For some of you, the easy way out is binge watching Netflix instead of making something. For others, it is making art without meaning, or writing without passion. For others, it is day-dreaming of completing that big project without ever doing it.
We all have our "easy way out" buttons.
By the way: the rats died.
In the same way, if you keep hitting that easy button, you will become addicted to easy. And it will kill the joy you have in creating.
Creating will feel like a chore. It will feel like a death sentence. It will feel like dream that will never come true.
So you hit the easy button again.
Look, some days you just have to do something. Sometimes it is hard. It hurts. But content creating does hurt, because you are sharing part of your soul.
I started writing this post a month and a half ago. I stopped because I felt like it wasn't good enough. I said I would revisit it later.
I waited. I waited.
And I finally realized that I was going to wait for eternity unless I just hit the "post" button. Maybe people like it. Maybe people will hate it. Maybe some person is on the verge of quitting and they will stumble upon this post. Maybe it will save someone's joy eventually.
But I know this: the easiest thing for me to do is nothing.
So I'll hit the "post" button, turn off my notifications and enjoy the rest of my evening.
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Daniel Pandolph is co-founder of Ministry Assistant Services and founder of Theologian of the Boss. He holds a BA in Christian Studies from North Greenville University and an MA in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.