What Does It Mean to Enlighten, Guide and Inspire?

Powerful content changes the way people think, believe, behave and act. It transforms mediocre groups into highly productive and engaged teams. It can, and does, alter the very fabric of global organizations, and in a few instances powerful content goes on to change the world.

In order for your work to have an impact and really be a catalyst for change, you need to think about how it enlightens, guides and inspires your target market. Fortunately, if your content misses the mark in any of those areas, there are always opportunities for you to modify your approach.

First, powerful content needs to enlighten its audience. That sounds pretty straight forward, right? You just furnish knowledge. However, sharing information isn’t that simple given the different ways that people learn.

We all have different ways that we internalize knowledge and you need to be able to adapt your approach if you want those various learning styles to receive your message. If your audience can’t process your content in a way that works for them (not you) then you do not have a chance to get them to even consider what you are advocating — let alone internalize and apply your concepts, models or theories in a meaningful way. Experiment, try new ways to communicate and test the efficacy of your experiments.

Once you’ve enlightened your audience, now you can start to guide them. Your role is partly to assist in the journey they have to take to implement change. Without your direction, that initial spark fades away and the opportunity for development will be lost.

Some guidance is very specific: the three steps to X, the models, the processes, the methodology — these are teaching tools that guide people along a path, which put up some guardrails and give them reference points to work with. Guiding moves content from the theoretical to the applied. Most of us do not struggle with grasping concepts and ideas at the theoretical level; we struggle to apply it in ways that matter. We need to know how and where to start. Focus on guiding your audience — not just being a spigot of raw data, information or knowledge. We drown in deluges of data daily.

The final step is to inspire. We aim to drive people to action. A list of facts does not inspire. You impel an individual, a group or a team by being relevant. Don’t be afraid to connect your content with your audience on an emotional level as well as a logical level. Expose yourself, incorporate personal stories, and take risks that let your passion permeate into your content. Be thoughtful, not just about your expertise, but about how you hope to spark change.

You need to be a visionary in order to paint a picture of what their world will look like after mastering and applying your content. Will it be worth the effort? What’s the payoff or the reward? How long will it take them to get a taste of success?

Obviously these concepts are not difficult to understand at the theoretical level. The question is: are you willing to take the risk of applying the effort in your work to enable individuals, teams, organizations and quite possibly the world to benefit from your content?

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