Many weeks ago, I came across this video:
And my first thought was: What a stupid video. The point it had to make was so obvious that I didn’t understand why they’d even bothered making it.
Then I read the comments on it and realized that, while the idea was obvious to me, it was an amazing insight to many others. And that I was doing exactly what the video warns against.
I thought about this for a while after first seeing it and I realized that I do this all the time. Sometimes I write what I consider “cheap” posts where I just go on about something so obvious to me that I’m often embarrassed to post it because I figure you’re all rolling your eyes but yet those always seem to become the most popular posts. This post on eBay Invoices and Google Docs is one of them. This one on shipping tips (which was my second most shared post on the whole site when it first posted) is another. This one on eBay pictures is yet another. These are just three that I actually posted out of a massive archive of posts I’ve discounted for being to obvious.
Some topics felt too basic, too duh, that it always seemed like a waste of time to write about them. OF COURSE you know that already. Why would I waste your time by going over it again?
But what I’ve been realizing since I saw that video is that my perception of what is obvious is based on the fact that I’m in my own head 24/7. Of course you think idea x is obvious… you’re the one that came up with it. From the view inside your reader’s heads, that idea is new and fresh. It only feels stale to you because you’ve been living with it.
I’ve been trying to conquer my “Don’t post that, it’s too obvious!” instinct because I’m realizing that, as a blogger, sometimes one clever idea can make the difference in no one reading and a post getting shared all over. The ideas I’ve been discounting are worth sharing, because many of you will find them useful, no matter what my weird brain thinks. So many times I see a post go viral with, to me, the world’s most obvious point behind it and I get annoyed at people for sharing it and the author for writing something so pointless when I’m missing the bigger point. The fact that it went viral means it wasn’t obvious to everyone else and I should have written about it myself instead of shelving the idea.
But, beyond blogging, this idea really applies in a lot of other ways. That business venture seems too obvious so you don’t try it. That book seems too obvious to be worth writing. That product seems too silly to be worth selling. When, really, you’re just second guessing yourself when the idea might be fresh to everyone else.
Here’s my questions for you: Do you find yourself doing this? Have you ever watched as someone else had success with an idea/blog post/product idea etc that you came up with but dismissed as too obvious to follow through with?