Man, yesterday's essay on the perils of niche strategy really struck a nerve. I was expecting it to resonate, but damn. When I talk about measuring external resonance, that piece easily gets a 10/10 rating.
Not gonna lie, though. I'm feeling a shit ton of pressure today to follow it up with something equally epic. And it's making my morning writing process feel sluggish and resistance-y and perfectionistic, which is no bueno.
But I really do want to strike while the iron's hot and share this idea of Containers of Aliveness with y'all. It's the strategy I've been developing for myself over the last year. And I believe it's an exquisite alternative to "finding your niche" for people seeking creative work that brings them alive, and true fans who value us for our inherent wholeness and complexity.
So for today, my plan is to share the basic building blocks of Containers of Aliveness, without pressuring myself to turn it into a Big Polished Essay that covers everything I wanna say. As cool as that would be, I can't keep churning out things at that level of quality every day. That shit is exhausting lol.
So yeah, let's talk about Containers of Aliveness y'all.
I want to start this off with two quotes, both of which encapsulate the idea in a beautiful way.
"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." -Howard Thurman
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” -Rainer Maria Rilke
A Container of Aliveness has three ingredients.
- Define one or more zesty, aspirational, open-ended questions that bring you alive.
- Begin to live those questions and explore them, however imperfectly, in your day to day life.
- Fill your online container with artifacts of your lived experience, thus leaving a trail for others who are on a similar journey.
At some point in the next week or two, I'll share all of the questions that underpin the Ungated world, so that you can see the inner workings of this thing. But for today, here are three of the big ones that have driven my writing lately.
- How can I be the change I want to see in the worlds of digital media and indie creators?
- How can I optimize my business and marketing around enough, instead of endless growth?
- How can I create true fans of an evolving, messy, holistic self, rather than true fans of one static, narrow aspect of myself?
I dunno about you, but for me, these are HOLY SHIT level questions that completely obliterate the status quo of the creator economy (which I am not a fan of lol). These questions point me towards a more beautiful way of relating to my creative work, my fans, and the internet as a whole. These questions don't just excite me. They light a raging bonfire in my heart that cannot be extinguished with easy answers. They make me want to live my life differently, more fully, more intentionally. And I have been.
By living these questions, instead of merely intellectualizing them, I am beginning to lay a foundation for the Ungated business that makes me virtually impossible to compete with. Anyone can copy the questions themselves, and I hope they do. But no one can copy my life, and my answers, and my experience of the world.
There are approximately eleventy million zillion blogs and YouTube channels and courses and twitter threads that purport to show creators the Secrets of Success™ or whatever. But how many of those resources are actively exploring intriguing, difficult questions like these, instead of providing easy one-size-fits-all answers to a much shallower set of questions? And how much of the content in this ecosystem is rich with insights from one human's lived experience, rather than pre-packaged regurgitations of existing advice and stories?
I'm going to assume you, dear reader, have encountered many of these types of creator resources in your digital travels. How does it feel to encounter my work in comparison to theirs? Does it speak to some deeper part of you? Does it awaken something in you that yearns to be alive, and to explore? Does it feel more human, more relatable, more trustworthy?
I've got a lot more I want to share around this concept, but frankly, I'm hungry and it's time for breakfast lol. So to wrap things up today, I'd like to leave you with a question to ponder.
What questions are essential to your journey of becoming the person you yearn to be?