I’m certainly not the biggest kid on the playground, but I’ve built a sizable following strictly on a platform that isn’t so easy to do so.
(After all, cat videos just won’t cut it on Medium.)
Several times a month, I get the inquiry: How’d you do it? How’d you build such a robust following on this platform that seems to be so difficult to do so?
I have one simple answer that is hard to stomach for most. But I look around to my peers who’ve done what I have here and see one common denominator…
In today’s world, keeping your talent close to your vest just doesn’t cut it. If you’re not already an icon, you have to be willing to give it away. All of it. Without getting anything in return. Possibly for a long time. A very long time.
You have to share freely and serve the world deeply — sometimes for quite awhile (for free) — in order to gain the trust and goodwill of your fellow humans.
This is a tried and true spiritual principle…
Everything that you consider valuable, you want to keep. This makes perfect sense to you because the foundation of your world is fear. Were the foundation of your world love, everything that you consider valuable you could not wait to share. Perhaps you think the desire to keep things for yourself stems from something other than fear. You might call this desire pride or security, or even accept that it is vanity, before you would call it fear. But fear is what it is.
-A Course of Love
Fear hates this. Fear wants to find an agent and turn into Stephen King before the first word is released.
Fear wants to be a guaranteed YouTube sensation before the camera is even turned on.
Fear wants to be a movie star without ever sleeping in the back of one’s car and eating top ramen for months on end while grinding and auditioning and getting turned down for everything in site.
Fear wants a successful blog without ever writing a post, answering an email, bleeding on the page, or solving an interesting problem.
Today we have the opportunity to choose generosity in the face of fear when dealing with creative things…
This is no easy thing to grapple with, internally.
Might they take your work and share it with their friends without crediting you or paying you a dime?…
Might they read it/watch it/listen to it multiple times — hell, multiple years — without paying you a dime or sharing with anyone else?
And the worst…
Might they not read/watch/listen to it at all, no matter how hard you work at it?…
But you have to be okay with this. Because Love is okay with it. Love is already fulfilled. Love is an end all to itself. Love gives freely and generously because it knows there’s more where that came from.
And if Love happens to ‘pay off’ in the ‘real world’ (which it almost always does — albeit sometimes in ways we could never imagine) it accepts the fruits of its labor with grace because it knows it’s worth it.
[Jonas Ellison is a spiritual writer, teacher, practitioner, and an interfaith minister-in-training. He helps people transform their lives through applied spirituality while documenting his journey along the way. To subscribe to his updates and exclusive content, click here.]