Miles Davis once said there’s only one in every 50 performances in which musicians play beyond themselves, in which they transcend their technical abilities and their imaginations to play from pure, unconscious inspiration. But it’s the other 49 performances by which musicians earn the right to call themselves professionals.
And so it is for all of us.
We all have aspirations to create the video, the ad, the comic, the letter, the email, or the meme that goes viral. But our chances of getting there are slim to negligible. And we all still have products and services to sell, clients to represent, brands to position and promote, and work to do. It’s only in getting that work done — by going about our jobs with diligence and fastidiousness — that we earn the right to call ourselves professionals.
So, if we shouldn’t spend our professional time and effort trying to go viral, what should we do?
- Learn everything we can about:
- The products and services we have to sell
- The clients we represent
- Their businesses and their brands
- The industries they serve
- Their target audiences
- Get to work:
- Create persuasive content with which to communicate those products and services
- Treat our clients’ businesses and their brands as our own
- Determine the media in which their industries communicate
- Speak the language of their consumers sincerely and persuasively
- Aspire to perfection.
Wait. Aspire to perfection?
That’s right. Aspiring to perfection doesn’t mean we’ll be perfect any more than aspiring to going viral will ensure we’ll achieve virality. But if we’re not working to the best of our abilities every day, if we’re not striving to achieve something beyond ourselves, to transcend our technical abilities and our imaginations — even if we don’t get there — on what grounds do we earn the right to call ourselves professionals?
So, go ahead. Give it your best shot. Even if you don’t achieve perfection, you can be proud anyway, knowing you’ve done the work.
For most of us, the closest we’ll get to going viral is catching the flu. Try anyway.