Every Monday and Thursday for the past 16 months, I sat down in my chair, put my hands on the keyboard, and wrote a new article. Post after post. Week after week. Over 130 articles and counting.
Why do I do this each week? What keeps pulling me back to this habit?
- Yes, I write for myself. (If you read an article that sounds like advice it's usually a reminder to myself to do something more often.)
- Sure, I write to get feedback, to learn more, and to clarify my thoughts. (If you're confused or curious about something, write about it.)
- And yes, I write to build a business. (See: my high-performance seminars or my first book, which I'm working on right now.)
But the more I do it, the more I am beginning to see writing as a form of leadership.
And not just that, writing is leadership at scale. I have come to realize that if I'm serious about making an impact with my work, about helping as many people as possible, and about putting a small dent in my corner of the universe — writing will carry my work and ideas further than just about anything else.
Why I Write: Leadership at Scale
Look at this article. There isn't much to it. It is just a few words on a page.
But these words can be read by anyone, anywhere.
Last month, people from 150 different countries visited my little corner of the internet at JamesClear.com. Most people will be reading this in the United States (110,083 visitors last month), Canada, or the UK. But there are many other options too.
- You could be reading from somewhere happy like Denmark (722 visitors last month), Costa Rica (109 visitors), or Bhutan (3 visitors).
- You could be reading from somewhere dangerous like Iraq (42 visitors), Afghanistan (28 visitors), or Somalia (4 visitors).
- You could be reading from somewhere with an amazing name. (Shout out to the 2 readers in Djibouti. Tell your friends!)
But wherever you are, we are connecting because I sat down and wrote these words and you're reading them. That's amazing, if you think about it.
In 10 years these words will still be here, waiting for whoever comes along. Writing has the power to inspire, to teach, to entertain, to lead, and to connect — and it can do those things long after the words have fluttered off my hands and onto the keyboard. I’ll never meet most of the people who read my articles. But they’ll know me through my words, and hopefully, the world will be slightly better because of it.
The Courage to Share
But, and this is the entire point of this article, these words could have easily never made it here.
For over a year, I didn’t have the courage to share my work. I wrote in a private document. I played it safe and tried to shield my words from criticism and judgment. Eventually, I decided that it was more important to contribute something to the world than it was to protect myself from criticism. I started to see being a writer as a way of being a leader by taking a stand for the things I believed in, sharing my mission, and rallying the people who believed the same things I believed.
We all have words inside of us — words that could change the world, words that could entertain and delight, words that could teach and improve — but these words can only unleash their power when shared. That’s why I write every week and it's why I believe that the world needs more people to find the courage to make their work public.
Share your work. Share your writing. Make it public. Find a way to lead at scale.1
Thanks to Justin Jackson for inspiring this post with his fantastic article.