Opening this doc to write, I went to title this blank page “my tendency to talk about myself” but that in a nutshell highlights precisely what it is that I’m noticing and want to point at.
I’ve been writing for the last 3 hours, a few posts about the spiritual dimensions of my to-do list app business, and I’ve noticed that some of my thoughts that I’m writing are drifting towards talking about myself. And I’m struck by how different talking about myself is from talking as myself, ie sharing my experience.
I’m noticing a draw towards making generalizations about myself—about what’s salient to me, about what matters to me, about how I seem to be in the world, my tendencies or personality or soul… in contrast, presumably, with other people. Telling the reader “this is how I am”, as if they can’t observe for themselves. “This is how to see me.”
I’m watching myself navigate this as I write this piece as well. The previous paragraph initially began “I’m noticing I’m drawn towards” which is ambiguous—it can read both as simply a thing that is happening but also as a general timeless statement about what I’m like. It’s not as strong as “my tendency” but it’s there.
I can think of lots of examples of my writing which doesn’t do this—writing that talks about how things seem to me, and maybe some stories, and maybe some generalizations about the world, but doesn’t try to tell the reader who I am—and also some that does. And I don’t think it’s inherently problematic. In my previous post “Whose job is this?” I actually open specifically with “It occurs to me, in the shower, that a lot of my life is preoccupied by this question. It’s a good theme, for Malcolm Ocean.” The post is an attempt to reveal my soul to the world, where by “my soul” I mean “my particular manner of doing relevance realization”, and it does so in part by describing how I seem to me to be.
But it’s incuriating me today to notice myself ending up in talking-about-myself mode by accident.
I think part of why this is so salient to me in today’s writing compared to other times is, well… I am attempting to talk about what matters to me, what’s sacred to me, rather than simply share an idea or framework or exercise. That’s part of why it’s happening. But part of why I’m noticing it today is that my writing is intended to be in part an offering to the reader of a taste of the way of seeing & being that I want to share with people through my app—including them, if they resonate with it. This invitation is thus really not supposed to be about me! So I’m noticing my own ego via the widespread marketing heuristic not to talk about yourself (the salesperson or the product) but to talk about the difference your product or services can make for the prospective customer.
And I’ve gotten this as specific advice, not in response to what I’m putting out so much as in response to me talking about being nervous about writing. I had a marketing consult with my friend Visa and he said:
this solves the “Malcolm is afraid to do marketing”
just be a vessel for Intend’s opinions
“have you met my friend Intend?!”
be Intend’s wingman
ask Intend “hey, what do you think about xyz?”
get out of the way
not “I am the creator who created this” but speaking from it, getting inside it
And today I’m noticing ways in which that’s hard to do.
But it’s only somewhat improved by saying “this is what Intend is all about” instead of “this is what Malcolm is all about”. As Visa put it, “speaking from it”. First-person-ness, which I’m all about and so is Intend.
… Wait, I just did it again 😑
Well, that’s fine. This writing is for documenting my own noticing and my learning process, not for telling you how I’ve Finally Learned This and about how Now I’m The Type Of Guy Who Doesn’t Do This Anymore.
I’m a funny guy. Am I? Sometimes I can’t take a joke, such as yesterday when I flipped out in response to my partner making fun of me when I told her my new theory of a particular way in which I in particular, myself, me, Malcolm Ocean specifically, am funny and able to get people to laugh. (Ahhh and probably that whole exchange is also part of what is leading me to notice these moments today. And again, I went to say “notice this pattern” and according to the constraint I’m trying on right now of not making generalizations about myself… I suppose can say that in a sense it is a pattern but the pattern isn’t “about me” and it isn’t even a comparison with anything or anyone else.)
I care so much about the preciousness of each moment! Me personally. I grieve lost hours with passionate intensity—mine and yours and everybody’s. Do I? Sometimes I blather on at length, unaware not only that the people around me don’t give a shit about what I’m talking about but that neither do I. When am I going to get around to grieving those moments?
I’m bad at giving concrete examples when I write stuff. Oh yeah? This paragraph and the two previous ones.
Constantly consciously expanding the boundaries of thoughtspace and actionspace. Creator of Intend, a system for improvisationally & creatively staying in touch with what's most important to you, and taking action towards it.