Be A Meaningful Specific

There’s a romance inherent in the idea of being a Renaissance man or woman. Leonardo da Vinci was famously a painter, scientist, engineer and mathematician.


But our contemporary heroes are more often famous for one primary talent or achievement. Steven Hawking as a scientist, JK Rowling as an author, Herbie Hancock as a musician.


Take a closer look and you’ll discover their domains are even more focused. Theoretical physicist. Fantasy novelist. Jazz pianist.


JK began writing the Harry Potter series with a specific audience in mind. The first book was designed to be at an appropriate reading level for children who were at similar age to Harry, Ron and Hermione when they first start at Hogwarts. As she wrote the subsequent novels they increased in sophistication – in terms of vocabulary and content – as her readers grew up alongside their favourite characters.


Being intentional about who you seek to serve, how and why is essential to making any significant impact with you work.


As Zig Ziglar used to say “Don’t be a wandering generality. Be a meaningful specific.”


Harry Potter was written for a specific niche of young readers. The story resonated so strongly with that audience that they shared it with their friends who in turn shared it with their parents. The best way for Rowling to reach a global audience of all ages turned out to be by writing a book that utterly delighted young readers who wanted to escape to a magical fantasy world.


Avoid generality. Being “good at everything” is overrated. Better to be great, or even the best at something specific.


Rowling may not be the world’s best author. She may not even be the best children’s novelist. But she owns the category of stories about boy wizards.


But not just specific. Meaningful, too. Although she’s arguably the most commercially successful author ever, Harry Potter wasn’t designed as a global empire. It was a chance for JK to share her stories in a way that would encourage more young people to read.


How can each of us be more meaningfully specific about the work we choose to do? It’s worth taking the time to really dig into who it’s for, how it is going to change them and why it’s worth doing.


Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to cast a similar spell on your audience.

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