Making it better than it needs to be.

Photo by hugh garry

On Sunday morning I was sitting at my desk in my attic updating a slide deck and running order, making some changes to the workshop I would give 24 hours later. Nobody was asking me to work my Sunday morning, nobody was asking me to update my workshop. It was working fine as it was; I was about to deliver my day-long course for the fifteenth time. On the previous fourteen times, I’d got good feedback — people had enjoyed it and benefited from it.

So why bother?

My answer is simple. If I have a belief and a drive that I can make it better, then why not do it?

Or, put it another way: why would I not strive to make it the best it can be?

I was reminded of this approach when I sat in the audience at the Episodic conference recently, watching as Naomi Alderman talked about the creative process behind ‘Zombies, Run. It’s a gaming app to help get you exercising. You listen to instructions as you run, embarking on missions and fleeing zombies.

You, like me, might not have realised just how much work and effort is involved in creating the stories for a running game. The stories for the app, to listen to as you run, are created by novelist Naomi Alderman and a team of writers. There’s a process and rigour behind it, in the same way there is for a movie script or a TV drama. Naomi told the audience at Episodic that it’s not just a fitness game… you can’t just wrap any old story around it. She told us that her ethos was to:

“Make it better than it needs to be”.

Making ‘it’ — your story, your workshop, your presentation, your report — better than it needs to be means you’re increasing your chances of success. If you only make it fit for purpose, or put in the minimum effort because no-one’s going to notice, you’re selling yourself short. Because someone will notice. And that someone is you. Deep down you’ll realise the story is weak, or the slides are shabby or the message isn’t clear. And if you don’t believe in your project wholeheartedly, if you don’t love it because it’s the best it can be, then you can’t expect your audience to love it either, whether your audience are runners listening to an app or attendees at a workshop.

Instead, if you make your work the best you can, if you make it better than it needs to be, your passion for your material will have more chance of being contagious. Your audience will buy into your spirit and believe in your message. And run faster away from those zombies…

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