I have been asked a number of times in the last few weeks the following question:
“What would make this interesting for you?”
It is such a disingenuous question. It is like asking, “What can I change about what I have just said so that you don’t run out of the door without looking back?” I’m not entirely sure that they even want the answer to the question. They are either asking about money or scope, and neither are all that negotiable. Sure, there is the process of collaborating and co-creation, but that question doesn’t get us where we want to go.
The story is where it’s at. That is what makes it interesting. Tell me a story about how you think it would go. Help me to understand your own interest by telling me just what purpose you have in initiating the progress. The story of what led us here is way more important than any “sweetening the pot” that you might be able to do with the scraps of an idea that you have just thrown at me.
I don’t do well with interesting. I work for engaging and rewarding. I am supporting a family and working on passion. Interesting isn’t going to do either.
One of my favorite things to read about, study or write about is Utopia and Dystopia. I love to see what the logical end of a really great or really terrible idea is. I love to see how characters feel their way along perfect places. I love to see them screw it all up or realize that their utopia has somehow been a sham all along. I once took a course in such things that had a total of 4 other students. It was the most passionate 10 weeks I spent on this topic, and the other students had almost no investment in it. The professor and I were the only ones that really wanted to tackle Plato’s Republic. I’m pretty sure he never taught the course again, but for those 10 weeks I was in heaven. The product of the course was creating my own representation of Utopia in 50 or so pages. I didn’t have to stretch to meet that requirement. I didn’t have to add fluff. I didn’t have to ask for more time. And most importantly, my professor never had to ask me what he could do to make it interesting.
I was pouring myself into the work and the feedback I got along the way was meaningful. I turned in three different versions of that work, each of which were shifted significantly by the words that Professor Abel gave scrawled across the margins. It was a purposeful meeting of our intellects and our words. We created a story out of the conversation that had never existed before. I was proud of what we created, and I think about it frequently as a product of my effort that will never be tainted by someone else trying for “interesting.”
I don’t mean to say that I am not interested in things or that I have to be that passionate about everything that I do. What I do mean is that when you are asking me to spend time that I could dedicate to anything, do not make it interesting for me. Come with me. Show me your story and let me help you write it. Who are the characters and what are the events that we need to encounter? How will this play out and what is the dramatic tension that propels us forward?
Interesting is great for handshakes. It is good for emails and casual meetings.
It is not good enough to be my life’s work. It is not okay to rest on interesting.
I’m telling a story. Don’t help me make it interesting, make it memorable and help give it purpose.