Shame on me, I have not been updating this blog much recently. In part because there’s so much great stuff been said about content writing and copywriting that there’s not much I feel the need to contribute (hording it all to myself). So when I do come up with an idea worth punting up here, it’s got to be suitably abstract. And one did occur to me, just this weekend, with the tale of my bicycle acquisition seeming to form an ideal analogy for the need to employ the right resources in whatever work we do.
The problem with under-employment of resources
Let’s start with the point this overall piece will make. You can work at something with all your effort, all your life, and find that effort is wasted if (a) don’t have the right resources to start with and/or (b) you find you’ve been working on the wrong thing. In the copywriting sector, for example, all the skill in the world might not save you from a lack of knowledge about your target market, while the world’s best copy might sell precisely nothing if it’s on a website that no one can load.
How does a bike fit into this?
For years, I’ve been bombing around Brighton on a beast of a dilapidated purple mountain bike. I got it off a friend who was throwing it out, at first seeing it as a challenge to repair the thing (and, then, as an opportunity to have a free bike). I used to commute to work on it, in all weather, and though I was grimly aware that it was very much a bottom-end bike, it did the job. The fact that it was monstrously heavy, and in constant need of some TLC, only spurred me on – I had to be fitter to ride it, and I had to be more knowledgeable in repairing it.
Skip forward to recent times, and for reasons that I must have been building to my whole life, I caved in and bought a good bike.
This weekend, I went out on the Downs again, now flying like the wind on this light device that was capable of going over a rock without flinching. And as I raced along flat dirt paths, it struck me that this expensive bit of kit gave me much more than I had perceived I was missing with the purple beast. With my old bike, I had seen the weight and rickety nature as challenges – I would become fitter, using a worse bike. With the new bike, I realised my fitness was not always the issue. This new bike had far better grip, and far more precise handling. If I hit rocks on the purple bike at the speeds I was going with the new bike, I would have a serious accident. That purple beast hadn’t just been slowing me down –it was actively dangerous, and limiting my very ability to move well.
Higher speeds became more of a challenge on the new bike. I realised that I had other issues that were a liability to me, worse than simply my level of fitness – not least of which being my own grip, and my ability to steer smoothly at a speed. Always desperately trying to be fit enough just to use the old purple bike, these real areas where my skills were lacking and needed honing had previously been completely unknown to me.
The bit where this ties together…
The whole debacle led me to question, how often do we try so hard to make something work with limited resources, blinkered from the fact that the resources themselves are the problem, which might themselves be hiding your real inadequacies? Sticking to doing the best with what you’ve got not only limits the final quality of your work, it limits your potential to improve. Sometimes the best thing is not to accept a challenge head on and make do, it’s to step back and ask if you have the necessary resources. Because without the right resources, the challenge itself may be completely different to the real problems with your project. With the right resources, then, you can start to face the right challenges.