There’s no triumph where there’s no threat

Facing Defeat

Facing Defeat


There’s a lot of ‘dare to be different’ talk in copywriting and social media circles. Stand out they say, differentiate yourself and your product.

I couldn’t agree more. It’s something I’ve felt for a long time and in a partially previous life was/is something I’ve been keen to share through the medium of popular music and peculiar dance with my friend Anna ‘the voice’ Dennis.

Essential Tension

Thing is… as your daring builds and you start to slide out of you comfort zone, and as you move further and further away from safe, so you start to encounter threat. That’s natural. It’s an essential tension. Your ‘can’t have it both ways’ dichotomy. It’s the edge that proves to us that we’re still alive.

It’s the fun stuff.

The alternative to increasing the threat levels through daring and do, is to simply stay put, to play it safe. Given time though, safe is more dangerous than dangerous. Sooner or later you’re simply going to bore or uninspire your way out of business or people’s hearts, either that or your own enthusiam will evaporate. Is there anything more threatening than inertia? Especially now. Stationary is a position of failure, static doom. Seth Godin refers to a Death Spiral – ‘Change is a bear’ he says, ‘but it’s better than death.’

In a parallel universe

……I’m a song writer. Lapsed I confess, though there are rumours of a new Silverman album sometime in the not too distant future if me and Anna can get our act together. Think I’m making it up? Check out some of the most beautiful songs you’ve never heard here.

Anyway……… a song that you won’t hear there but is sadly sitting on a virtual shelf collecting virtual dust is the magnum opus ‘If my hair gets wet – then I will have wet hair’ – It’s a kind of insecure two fingers to fear, an acceptance that shit happens, a nervous refusal to back down. It contains a line – ‘There’s no triumph where there’s no threat’ and represents exactly the dare to be different philosophy. That things, anything, only really matter, you can only truly succeed when there’s the possibility of failure. Threat weeds out the also rans, it creates scarcity. People like brave, people like value. Threat imbues value.

It’s in our nature

For us it wasn’t easy sticking our creative head above the trench, breaking from the crowd. Being purple. Anna used to feel physically sick anywhere near a stage or when we were about to release our record or upload a song online for the first time to let it ‘exist’, or when someone said or wrote something less than 127% complimentary. In fact we were VERY sensitive. It was/is in our nature. Sensitive to the point that when were targeted by some nasty guestbook trolls we took it extremely personally. On reflection maybe we should have been flattered that people thought we were important enough to try to upset. Brian Clark at Copyblogger quotes Samuel Butle saying “Authority is never without hate.” We didn’t see it at the time though and were really hurt.

Fear got the better of us.

And of course the thing that stops people challenging failure and being triumphant is fear. Fear of looking like an idiot, of having people, ridiculing you or jeopardising a reputation. People telling you that you are wrong. That rising heat and flush.

It’s a shame. The rewards of success, of appreciation and respect are infinitely better than the consequences of the threat.

It’s no different for copywriters. You have to dare to be different, stake your claim. There’s a popular Mark Twain quote, that Tim Ferriss uses in Blogging Without Killing Yourself lecture – “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” He’s totally right. Don’t go crazy though. I mean is there anything more irritating than someone running round in their piano keyboard tie and orange jeans telling anyone who’ll listen, ‘I’m mad I am!’? – No.

Your difference need only be subtle. An angle, a shade or flavour. You don’t need to pick fights or make balloon animals. You don’t need to loose perspective or your dignity in the process.

And the fear? What about the fear? What can you do to make this a fear free process, to take away the anxiety. To smooth the path?

Sorry – tension is essential I’m afraid. It’s all part of the deal. Use it.

Ps Ha Ha!, I’ve found a demo we recorded at Magic Garden with Gavin Monaghan. Mail me here for a copy (I’ll even send you the lyrics!!!)

Photo Credit D Sharon Pruitt – Thanks

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