Tuesday, 15 May 2012


If I really wanted to 'drive more traffic to my blog' - a phrase, incidentally, that conjures up images of cattle and whips, I'd stop the slightly quirky titles and promise my readers (sorry, traffic) something finite. 'The 7 habits of highly effective people', for example, or 'The Top 10 ways to drive traffic to your blog' or  'The 6 secrets of highly successful and beautiful women'. Apparently, articles and blog posts of this ilk attract clicks by the million - and it certainly seems to be a successful formula for a best-selling business or self-help book. In fact, the written word is becoming littered with lists, whether it's '100 things to do before you die' or '8 ways to tie a scarf'.

The appeal of this stuff is obvious - much of the thinking is already done, pre-packaged. You can skim through the list and think that you know all that there is to know. But do you? Maybe you recently voted in an article such as 'The 6 enemies of greatness (and happiness)' one that was recently doing the rounds. How many people actually chose an answer other than the given six enemies of greatness (and happiness - actually, why is that in there?)? 

Of course, most of these articles are harmless enough - a bit of pop-psychology to fill in a pause in the day. But underneath it all lurks a danger to original thought. The more we rely on check-sheets and forms and someone else's presentation from SlideShare on 'The 6 successful strategies of brands in commodity markets', the less we rely on first principles and fresh thinking.

I don't know who originally said it, but the thought has always stayed with me: thinking within a fixed circle of ideas is dangerous. As long as the questions remain there, then so will the answers.

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