Platform – a common word you hear today in regards to getting your book, your album, or your message. I’ve received a considerable number of questions as of late regarding how to get a blog noticed or how to get a book “out there”. Since releasing my book I have wrestled with what I believe about platform. To me, the idea has never rested well in my heart, and honestly seems counter to the ways of Christ to me. Well intentioned platform experts will state that the idea of platform is just getting your message out to your audience. There’s validity to this. And of course if you’re going to write a book, or speak to an audience or blog, there is a degree of responsibility you have to get it out there. It doesn’t happen by sitting on your butt and wishing it out. This is the struggle I have felt. I’ve been searching for an answer I feel peaceful about.
I’m happy to tell you, I found my answer.
Recently, I was introduced to a book called “The Way To Love” by Anthony DeMello that answered the frustration of my heart regarding these matters. He starts with contrasts I found helpful.
– think of the feeling you get when someone praises you, you’ve gained approval, been accepted or have received applause. Now contrast that with the feeling that rises in you when you look at a sunrise or sunset, or scenery that takes your breath away.
– remember the feeling you get when you succeed, when in your mind you’ve “made it”, when you arrived at the top. Contrast this with the kind of feeling you have when you really enjoy your work.
– contrast the feeling you have when you feel you have power, you are on the top of the food-chain, or when you’re experiencing popularity. Now think of the feelings of true companionship, the times you truly enjoyed the company of friends.
“Understand that the first type of feeling comes from self-glorification, or self-promotion. The second comes from self-fulfillment, a soul feeling.” DeMello goes on to explain that self-glorification and promotion are not natural feelings, but were invented by culture to make us productive and controllable. They don’t produce the fruit that self-fulfillment brings; the feeling you get when you’ve brought a beautiful piece of work to the earth as a gift. No, self-promotion cannot bring this. Yes, it may bring some sort of excitement that feeds our ego and gives us a hunger for more, fooling us into thinking that success is right around the corner, that there is a higher “top” to strive to. The end result will always remain the same: empty. The cycle will only continue with more desire for attention and approval. These feelings become extremely addicting.
How about this comparison: Think of the feeling you get when you’ve written a beautiful blog post from your heart, one that you feel truly represents all the riches of your heart. You press “publish” with the feeling of knowing you have just contributed words that will encourage those who read. Now compare that with the pressure of having to write a blog because of the need you feel to keep your posts updated. The striving you feel to stay on top of “hot buttons” to keep your ideal google analytics stats happy.
Or this: The fulfillment you get from finding a tribe of like-minded individuals who are encouraged and strengthened by your work to the constant scrutiny of how many twitter followers you have or facebook page likes you’ve added this week.
How about the achievement you get from receiving your book in the mail. Smelling the pages and seeing all your hard work come to fruition. Compare that to the robbing feeling of checking amazon rankings, getting pissed off at the one “4 star rating” you received, and that one negative review you’re losing sleep over.
I know all about these comparisons because I’ve stayed a moment in each. It is my ultimate rebellion to push away the pressure of platform and do what the Father asks with joy and freedom. It is freeing to look out on a vast landscape of land and water and become aware once again that I don’t need to build an empire.
I wrote about this in my book “Culture Rebel”. Here’s an excerpt on this very subject, revealing this part of my I don’t like.
“I’ll admit it: I love success. I’m an overachiever. Regardless of why I’m an overachiever, the fact remains the same: the value I place on myself is determined by what I achieve. So far, I’ve tasted a ton of achievement. My ambition has paid off time and time again. But I’ve found a problem with success. Matthew Barnett calls success “a moving target.” I have personally experienced this “Poster Child” one day, “Has Been” the next day. We see this constantly in the life of movie stars (does anyone know what happened to Boy George??). Our untelevised lives tell the same story. This fickle attention that society gives us becomes a problem when we strive so hard to get success back after losing it, or taste success and fall for the trap of never having enough.
Here’s another problem with success: It’s all about me. I want the credit, the profile, and the status that comes with it. And even though I really want you to succeed too, if it comes down to whether you or I move ahead, you may just see my inner-demon exposed. Yuck, I hate admitting that. I really want you to think differently of me. But who am I kidding? In some dark crevice of my heart, lies this truth that I try to ignore.
I’ve found that the answer to this is in the switch to surrender: surrendering my desire for success. This takes accepting the truth that if I accomplish nothing in this life, I’m enough. For an over-achiever, this was a very hard pill for me to swallow.”
There is much more for us to experience beyond the man-made idea of “platform” and self-promotion. We can write a book, record a CD, post a blog, create a piece of art or direct a theatrical play without the idea of striving for success. I am on a personal journey of learning how to bring what’s inside of me out from a position of “rest”; free from anxiety, worry and ego.
Check out Anthony DeMello’s book here