Be The Artist And The Audience

Bruce Springsteen says when he writes songs, he tries to be the artist and the audience at the same time. On one hand, he wants a song he’s proud to have made, and on the other, he wants one he’d sing along to if it came on the radio. Our work is no different. There’s the work we do and the people it’s for. Success requires us to consider both. Here’s how.

The simple question every professional wants to ask is, “Why would someone be a fan of this?” We can follow it up with, “Why would someone tell someone else about how great it is?” And the natural next step, “How would they tell them?” Remember, the point of this exercise is to be self-aware of not just our work, but how others might perceive it.

If we want our work to spread, we had better make it worth spreading. If we can figure out how to be inspired and inspirational at the same time, we’ll have figured out how to draw a crowd. If we can hold their attention, we are on our way to building a following. Maybe it won’t be Springsteen sized, but all that matters is that it’s big enough to make our work worthwhile.

Doing good work is never a one-sided transaction. If we take the perspective of everyone involved we can earn a deeper appreciation for what makes it powerful.

And if that’s good enough for The Boss, it’s good enough for us too.

Listen to Bruce Springsteen’s Broken Record podcast interview with Malcolm Gladwell and Rick Rubin to hear him talk about this and much more.

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