This story goes back to when my eldest (now 15-year-old) son was just a toddler and I delivered a Keynote at BlogWorld Expo, where I told how my son reminded me of a powerful principle of successful blogging.
So many people have since told me how much they enjoyed and were impacted by the story that I thought I should share it again here on the blog.
I hope you enjoy the wisdom of my four-year-old son.
Transcript of “Tell the World Something Important”
About three months ago now, I was sitting here at my desk, typing away, blogging, and it was in the afternoon—about three-thirty, four o’clock.
Now, in my house around three-thirty, four o’clock, things get a little bit crazy. I have a four-and-a-half-year-old boy and a two-and-half-year-old boy. And in the afternoon, after sleeps and after a long day, they can get a little bit silly. So around this time of the day I would normally hear, you know, a bit of shouting, a bit of screaming. And sometimes I’d hear the footsteps racing down the hall towards my roo,m and I’d see the door burst open and all manner of strife would happen in my offices. Cords get pulled out and my kids demand that I make videos of them, and all kinds of stuff and it’s kind of a fun but also a bit of a crazy time of the afternoon.
On this particular day, things happened a little bit differently, though. I did hear some footsteps walking down the hall towards my room but there was no accompanying shouting or shrieking or laughter or giggling. It was just these quiet little footsteps padding down the hallway.
And then I heard the door handle creak and the door slowly open. And out of the corner of my eye I saw my four-year-old son Xavier standing at the door. I didn’t look around: I wanted to see what he would do. He very quietly and gently got down onto his knees and then he got down on his tummy and he began to commando-crawl into my room.
Now Xavier has this perception that if he can’t see you, you can’t see him. And so he had his head buried down low so that he couldn’t see me and he began to crawl into the room. And he crawled up my right hand side and then he crawled in front of my desk in plain sight for me, but he thought he wouldn’t be seen. Then he crawled down on my either side and then he stood up very quietly and gingerly behind me.
Again, I could kind of see him out of the corner of my eye and I could feel his presence there at my left shoulder, and he just stood there for 30 or 40 seconds as I continued to type. I was trying to finish a blog post before whatever happened was going to happen.
And as I was sitting there writing, he just watched. And after a moment or two I felt him lean into me, and I felt him begin to breathe on my neck and on my ear. And as he leaned in he just whispered in my ear “Daddy, what are you doing?”, and then he leaned back again.
Now I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to describe blogging to a four-year-old. It’s not something that I really know how to do, so I just said “I’m writing a message to the world.” And he seemed to accept that.
Again there was silence for a moment or two and again he leaned in close to me and he said “Daddy, make sure you tell the world something important.”
And then he leaned back and he got back down on his knees again and he commando-crawled back in front of me and out the door and shut the door behind him.
And it was kind of a bizarre little moment. For one, I wasn’t quite sure why he wasn’t in his normal hyper mood, but as I began to think about what he’d actually said to me, it kind of, it was a moment that I found actually quite challenging as I began to think about the type of blogs that I was writing and the information that I was putting out there.
Tell the World Something Important
I’ve been blogging now for eight years, and I’ve always wanted to tell the world something important. I’ve always had a motivation of trying to help people. But as someone who makes a living from it also, there are these other motivations. You want to make money out of it. You want to build some credibility and you want to build your profile. And so all these other motivations creep into it.
And so for me, that little moment where he whispered, “Tell the world something important”—for me it was kind of a challenging moment as I began to think “Yeah, that’s so true”.
That was the reason that I got into blogging in the first place but it’s also the secret to any success that I think I … success that I have had. The times where I’ve actually told the world something important rather than something that I think might be profitable, they’re the times where things begin to take off for me. The times where you’re actually are solving people’s problems, when you’re actually doing and saying things that matter. They’re the times that people seem to respond the most, and they’re the times where the profits actually do come down the track—for me, in my experience, at least.
And so I guess my message to you as I tell the world a message today is to keep that in the back of your mind. For one, it’s much more satisfying to be a blogger who’s actually saying something important, who’s making a difference. But two, a successful blog is actually built on that. If you’re actually doing something that matters to people, if you’re doing something that’s real and that is actually impacting people’s lives in some way, you’re much more likely to build a blog that people are going to take notice of, and that people will trust, and that people will keep coming back to.
So from the mouths of babes, from the mouth of my used-to-be-little-guy-but-now-taller-than-me Xavier, I’d encourage you to keep that in your focus. Tell the world something important.
This post was first published on Jan 14, 2011 and revised Nov 18, 2021