A very common fear and doubt that many creative, social and other entrepreneurs face, especially those endeavouring to deliver some sort of practical information, is that they're stating the obvious. It's not just a case of... wait a minute... I'm not stating the obvious for you here, am I?
Well, you get the point.
So, are you stating the obvious? How do you tell? And if so, what do you do about it?
There are really 3 questions we need to consider before we go any further.
- Is the information you're sharing actually obvious to your audience, or does it just feel obvious to you?
- Is getting a refresher in something obvious, which is also important, a waste of time?
- Do you have anything unique to contribute to the obvious information you're offering?
These questions are important because they push through the assumption that something obvious is not valuable to your audience or customers. I'll explain my response to each of the above questions, and hopefully give you the confidence to create fearlessly, with faith in the value of what you have to offer.
The difference between really obvious and the elusive obvious
Moshe Feldenkrais coined the term "the elusive obvious" in his book of the same name. He explains that "The Elusive Obvious deals with simple, fundamental notions of our daily life that through habit become elusive." The way I like to describe it is the feeling of something being obvious, even when you're hearing the information for the first time. It's kind of a knowledge-dejavu.
Sometimes we find ourselves, as innovators or change-makers, becoming self-indulgent and unable to empathise with the notion that different people understand different things differently. We all have unique world-views, even if only slightly, and whilst we all have many similar things to share with the world, our differences mean we take different things for granted, and different things are obvious to us. Just because something feels obvious to you, doesn't mean that it's obvious to someone else, but it may well be extremely relevant and useful nonetheless.
The importance of reinforcement
Even when something is obvious to us, through the routine of daily practice we often forget to pay attention to the details. That's when reinforcement from someone else comes in handy, and we realise that getting a refresher in something we already know is worthwhile. The most common example I can think of is keeping a good posture.
It's obvious to pretty much everyone that we need to sit up-right to maintain healthy ergonomics, yet how often do the best of us unconsciously fall into a lazy slouch. There are countless studies quoting various figures on how many times one needs to learn or practice something for it to be a habit.
What every study agrees on is that reinforcement, even of the most obvious things, is invaluable in developing habits and expertise. A subtle prompt can help remind us to act on what we already know as obvious.
The value of your individuality
Perhaps the greatest way our fear of stating the obvious talks to us is by saying to our subconscious mind, "Your idea isn't unique, and has been offered by countless others. Just do a Google search, you goose!" Trust me, I experience this hesitation all the time. The fact is however that if you have something worthwhile to say, you probably have a personal experience or individual perspective to draw upon.
That personal experience and individual perspective is what gives the idea true value. Not only will your audience and customers appreciate the reinforcement, they'll retain the key ideas better when given the chance to understand concepts in the context of personal stories they can relate to.
Of course, I'm not suggesting everyone should write a blog about good posture, or start a training course on it, but then again, there are many successful and valuable businesses that do just that! Every audience, community, and group of customers has an elusive obvious, or something that they could use some reinforcement for.
Offering your individual and unique perspectives and experiences will provide just that, in engaging, interesting, and valuable ways. So, how can you help someone with something that you've been holding back from because you've feared stating the obvious?