It’s not about you.
Or me, for that matter.
It’s about our brothers and sisters. It’s about our families. Our cities. Our state.
About our countries…
It’s about humanity.
The men, women and children of the world.
It’s about the animals.
It’s about… everything that exists.
I’d stop writing here… but I’d hate to leave you scratching your head.
So without further ado, let’s get into it.
First, a warning: This post takes a path through philosophy, motivation and self-help, but I’ll bring it back to marketing and copywriting. So keep reading, even if you’re wondering what the point is, because in the end, you’ll get a valuable marketing lesson.
The story begins with the title of this post…
It’s Not About You
We live our lives in the service of ourselves.
We think it’s about us.
But we are mistaken.
Most of us think we are an island.
We think in terms of “separateness”. To operate in reality, we maintain a sense that “I” am different to “you”. With this sense of separateness comes the belief that what I do doesn’t particularly matter to you (and vice versa).
Whether or not I succeed doesn’t matter to you.
My results are isolated events in reality.
Whether I succeed or fail, the world goes on.
No big deal, right?
That’s what I used to think.
But I kinda-somewhat-maybe changed my thinking.
Here’s what I think now:
No Big Deal? IT’S A HUGE FUCKING DEAL
Whether we succeed or not matters.
And not just to us personally.
It matters to humanity.
That brings me to another important point:
You Are 100% Unique
I’m venturing into a fluffy, potentially cheesy area, but stay with me.
You are 100% unique.
That means that whatever you have to offer the world is also 100% unique.
No one else can offer precisely what you can offer (and vice versa).
Think about it.
“You” are a collection of experiences, beliefs, values and an assortment of other things.
No one has exactly the same collection of experiences, beliefs and values.
We are all different.
We are unique.
This means that whatever gifts we have to offer are unique.
NO ONE can offer precisely what we can offer.
The unique combination of ingredients that make up your person leads to a magical formula that produces unique results.
Since the recipe is unique, the results are unique.
Since the results are unique, NO ONE can produce quite the same results in the world.
If we follow this train of thought, it leads to the idea that if we fail to offer our unique set of gifts to the world, we have short-changed the world.
We have failed to give something that NO ONE else can give.
When we look into the future, we see a range of different futures.
Future #1 – where we were lazy and never reached our potential
Future #2 – where we were moderately successful
Future #3 – where we smacked shit outta the park… where we kicked ass… where we gave everything we had to the world and fulfilled our potential
Now, considering that Future #3 is a potential future, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to make it happen.
This is NOT about us.
It’s not about making money so we can live a nice lifestyle. It’s not about getting a nice car, or being successful because we’ll feel better about ourselves. It’s not about being location independent, or building a big business, or getting respect, or any of a thousand other trivial things.
It’s About The Entire Human Race (plus the ENTIRE universe)
Howzat for motivation?
If we fail to give our gift to the world, we haven’t let ourselves down, we have let the world down.
If we fail to make the most of our unique set of talents, we have let humanity… past, present and future… DOWN.
We have failed to live up to our potential. To fulfil our purpose. Our MISSION.
Now, some people might argue that if they don’t do something, someone else will.
In a sense, they’re right. Yes, someone else will take your place if you’re not man enough to step up to the plate. But while they might be able to deliver something similar to you, they can’t do it precisely the way you can.
Besides, they have their own set of gifts to give to the world, which neither you nor I can provide.
No One Can Do YOU
As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true.
No one can do YOU.
Sure, they can do something similar.
But they can’t do YOU anymore than you can do THEM.
With that in mind, we have a responsibility to the entire fucking world.
That brings me to another point…
If You Don’t Give Your Gift, You’ve “Stolen” From The World
If you accept the idea that you have a unique set of gifts to give to the world, and that in one potential future you have given them to the world, then if you fail to do so, you have effectively STOLEN from the future of the world.
If we don’t give our unique gifts to the world, we have STOLEN from a marvellous future that might have been.
This leads to another interesting point… namely, that our gifts aren’t really ours. Whatever talents and abilities we have, we didn’t do anything to get them. Oh, sure, we might have put in the time to practice a skill. But most of who we are and what we can do has nothing to do with us.
Who We Are And What We Do Has NOTHING To Do With Us
Think about it.
Almost everything that makes us who we are is out of our control.
At least 80% of who we are comes from wherever we happened to be born – something we CANNOT control.
Tiger Woods is a world-class golfer, but it’s not about him. It’s about the fact that he was born into a family with money, with a father that had him practicing golf at 4 years old. The unique ingredients that make Tiger Woods a success… most of them were not and are not under Tiger’s control.
Therefore, it’s not about Tiger.
He works hard? His precise set of experiences and upbringing developed a strong work ethic (something that he didn’t control).
He has good genetics? Something he didn’t control.
His father coached him? Something he didn’t control.
He started playing golf at 4 years old? Something he didn’t control.
This applies to everyone.
Most of what we are does not come from us.
Whether you believe it was chance, destiny or a higher power doesn’t particularly matter.
The point is that our gifts aren’t really ours.
They belong to the universe.
And if we don’t give our gifts back to the world, we have stolen from a future that might have been.
Why This Matters
One commonality among humans is that we all tend to want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We want purpose. We want a mission. We don’t just want to go to work each day to make a little extra cash. We want to create something valuable. Even if we don’t consciously express it, we feel it. We feel a lack of purpose.
Why else do we love stories of triumph? Stories of purpose? Stories about a life-changing quest, from one side of the world to the other?
This is one reason people turn to religion. For purpose. For direction. For a mission… and the sense of being part of something bigger than ourselves.
Not to hate on religion, but we don’t need religion to attain that sense of mission.
It already exists.
We have been given (or by chance, ended up with) a unique set of gifts and we owe it to humanity (not just ourselves) to make the most of those gifts.
How This Changes Our Behaviour
A belief like this infuses behaviour with something more than mere motivation.
Imagine waking up each morning with the sense that what you did that day mattered.
Imagine feeling, in the core of your being, that it didn’t just matter to you, it mattered to humanity.
Imagine it… Going through your day with the sense that what you did was extremely important to the universe as a whole. Imagine feeling like your life mattered, not just to you and those around you, but to the entire human race.
Let me say that again…
Imagine Feeling Like Your Life Mattered To The Entire Human Race
To some people, this might be self-evident.
Props to you if you feel like this already.
But to the 99% of humans that don’t feel like this, it’s time to “get it”.
What you do matters.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to add your unique gift to the world.
The future of humanity depends upon it.
Think about that next time you’re tempted to be lazy.
How The Hell Does This Relate To Copywriting?
This is one hell of a motivational post.
You know what’s funny? It’s not meant to be motivational.
It’s about reality.
We kid ourselves when we think that our lives don’t matter.
We kid ourselves when we think that what we do isn’t important to humanity.
Like I said earlier, it’s extremely important.
Anyhow – how does this relate to copywriting?
Empathy is another way to say… “it’s not about you, it’s about them”. When you write a sales letter, landing page or email, you have to remember that it’s not about you.
It’s not about your ideas, your beliefs about your product and about what you think is important.
It’s about the prospect. It’s about their problems, their dreams and their goals. It’s about helping them move from Point A to Point B. It’s not about manipulation. It’s about helping prospects achieve their goals.
Marketing (and sales copy) succeeds to the extent that it has empathy.
But you can only have empathy when you forget about yourself.
Ramit Sethi spends more than 50% of his time on customer research. He’s known for being an amazing copywriter… yet he spends more than half his time on understanding his prospect.
Ramit knows it’s not about him.
Will Smith knows it’s not about him.
Becoming A Better Communicator
In the end, that’s what it’s about.
Learning to communicate better.
That’s the essence of copywriting and of marketing.
When you realize that it’s about THEM (not YOU) you dramatically increase your ability to communicate.
Your ability to communicate correlates directly to your ability to impact the world, since we can do nothing meaningful without involving other people.
It’s not about you.
It’s about being the best we can be, not because we need the ego validation, but because the world needs us to be the best we can be.
It’s about impacting humanity like only we can do.