A couple years ago, I left the country. With 19 other people, I spent five days traveling through Guatemala, serving local NGOs that were improving the lives of those living in poverty.
Halfway through the trip, I looked around in awe. We 20 strangers gathered together for a purpose bigger than ourselves to do work that wasn’t about us, leaving each person changed through the process, including me.
How did all this happen? One word: Platform.
This group of people had connected to each other and to me through a blog, and then a book that I wrote a few years ago. And now we were in another country, doing things we never would have imagined: sleeping in hostels; taking cold showers; touring the city dump and embracing the sick, diseased, and downtrodden. All because of a platform.
The experience rocked me to my core and gave me the perspective I needed to appreciate what a platform is really supposed to be about.
What does this mean for you?
Everyone has something to say. I believe that with all my heart. And in a noisy world full of distraction, we need a way to way to get heard, a way that is not completely about us. That's called a platform.
A platform is exactly what it sounds like: It’s a stage on which we stand to share our message. It's not an end to itself (i.e. “Hey, look at me and how great I am!”). But rather, it's a means to an end.
We don’t build a platform so the world thinks much of us. We build a platform so we can change the world.
Or at least, that's why we should.
For a long time, I didn't understand this. I had a blog nobody read. Nobody was changed by my word, and no one thanked me for my words. After years of failure, I threw my hands up in frustration and wondered, What was I doing wrong?
Don't make it all about you
People are smarter than most marketers think. They can tell when you’re trying too hard or when you're presenting a cleverly-presented pitch that helps you more than it does them. And that's what I was doing with my first foray into social media.
I was making it all about me.
My blog was about getting other people to like me. It was about attention and accolades. I would chase fame, no matter what the cost, sacrifice or compromise anything just to be known. It was pathetic, but I couldn't seem to help myself. And no surprise: the blog failed.
It wasn't until I quit my blog and started over that I learned the ever-important lesson of focusing the attention away from myself. And that's when things began to change. Turns out, when you make your platform about other people, they’ll make it about you.
And when you build an audience sharing a message that matters, you can change the world.
Here's your challenge
We all are building a legacy. With our words and actions, we are making our mark on the world, one way or another. So why not create a legacy that will endure, one that gives more than it takes?
Whatever stage you're building — be it a blog, a business, or a butcher's shop (sorry, just had to keep with the alliteration) — make it about someone else.
You don't have to be huge; you just have to be helpful.
Ask questions, offer solutions, see what a difference you can make. Because the truth is we don't find our purpose in life by looking in the mirror, staring at ourselves. We find it by looking out the window at a world in need.
So, dear friends, it's time to open up our eyes and decide what kind of platform we ought to be building. If you need help getting started, check out my free guide to launching a blog. Just click the link below (it'll take you through a step-by-step tutorial on launching a self-hosted WordPress blog on any budget).
And if you already have a blog, it's time to share! Leave a comment below with a link to a blog post you're proud of.
How are you using your message to help others? Share a recent blog post in the comments.