Your Work is Never About You

On October 5, 2014

When we do our work, we like to think of it as an extension of ourself.

That's why our work often shows our personal traits - our creativity, our expertise, our feelings, our likes and dislikes.

And all that's good, but, sometimes, it's difficult to know how much of these traits should you allow in your work; if you put too much, your users may get bored, and if you put too less, your users may feel your work lacks a human touch.

So, whether you work for a corporate, startup, or yourself, it makes sense to remember a key rule when you create anything: your work is for benefit of others, not yours.

While as simple as it sounds, it's easy to forget this rule. I often forget it myself, and let my likes and tastes enter my writings, only to discover later, that they were of no use to my readers.

As a creator, you naturally like to show your creativity and expertise in your work, but you shouldn't let that interfere with your user's goals.

People buy and use your products only if there is something in it for them, and not to appreciate your creativity, intelligence, or hard work.

And this applies to every field. Whether you develop applications, design games, or write articles, anything you do is supposed to solve your user's problem.

Your users use your products, or read your words, because it does something to them - it motivates them, it excites them, it solves their painful problems, it makes them think, it makes them feel intelligent and smart, it makes them feel good about themself, it gives them hope, it makes them act, it improves their life in some way.

So even though every user consumes your work for a different purpose, what you need to remember is, your work should make your users feel that you did it specifically for them.

But if you fail to do that, and you create a product only to boost your ego, soon you'll be the only one using it.

Sure, you can always create something just to satisfy your own needs, but then you shouldn't expect others to like it or buy it; if they do, great, if not, then you know who to blame (hint: it's not them).

So, every time you add a new feature, remind yourself that it's not about you; even better, make this a rule. And If you stick to this rule, with time you'll be able to figure out what you can keep, and what you can remove, from your work. You'll know when your personal experience will be of value for your users, and when it won't be.

Any well-designed product, or any good book, is always more than a form of self-expression of its creator. Your self-expression is of no use if it fails to deliver a useful message to your users.

The message (your work) should always be more important than the messenger (you). The messenger's job is only to deliver the message, and not to interfere with the contents of the message.

So, be a good messenger and create your work in such a way that your users get your message fast, in a clear way, and as they like it to be.

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