Over the weekend, I happened to catch a 3-hour documentary on Abraham Lincoln (showing my dedication to being a history nerd). It was an interesting psychological study of Lincoln, and it really concentrated a lot more on his youth than on his years as President.
One particular thought really interested me. When Lincoln was in his early 40s, trying to earn his place in the state legislature, his political rhetoric was mostly focused on why his opponents were crappy. In fact, he apparently obliterated one peer so harshly that the man broke into tears on the House floor. Lincoln penned anonymous letters to Illinois newspapers about how the Democrats were a bunch of morons. It was the nadir of his career, by the way. He thought that he was a complete failure.
Then, Stephen Douglas put together the Kansas-Nebraska act, which basically said, “Um, hi. We can’t figure out this slavery thing. Every time there’s a new territory, we have to put together a compromise, and it just stinks. So why don’t all y’all just figure it out territory by territory.” Lincoln was enraged by this alleged compromise and sprung into action. It did not take long for him to put together his thought that “A House Divided Cannot Stand.” He had something he believed in fervently. He had a message. And not long after that, he was President of the United States.
Having a point strengthens engagement
I was looking back on my first dozen or so blog posts. I was all over the place. I wrote a post based on a presentation I had done. Then I wrote one about a charitable organization. Then I wrote one about, well, something else. My blog did not perform particularly well during this time, and I think part of the reason is that people do not walk into a house where someone is flailing wildly around. I would imagine people came to my site and wondered, “What is this lady trying to accomplish?”
This is not to say that all of your posts have to be on the exact same subject, but have a message. Have a series of passions that you tend to reflect on in your online world. Let people connect with you on things.
Having a point strengthens your knowledge and craft
As Lincoln continued to write speeches about and debate the issue of slavery, his rhetoric got better and better. He found new ways to disarm his opponents. He found new analogies to make his points more clear. I’m not saying that you need to become “the expert.” But get something that you can really sink your teeth into, and then study it. Uncover new ways of talking about it. See if you can convince someone who disagrees with you that you actually are on to something. If you are talking about everything under the sun, you can’t really settle on a style, which makes it harder for people to connect with what you are saying and doing.
Having a point strengthens your business
If you are floating from subject to subject and you are online to promote or represent your business/brand, then you are going to find that success will hide from you. Whether your point is why your company is smarter than others, why your company will make your customers seem smarter, or why your company is the most cost-effective, you need to not only have a point, but you need that point to be about as sharp as you can stand it. What is your mission? What is the point you want your prospects and customers to understand about you right away?
Abraham Lincoln wanted people to know that he wanted to preserve the Union. That was his thing. Slavery was ripping apart the Union, and therefore Lincoln was all for ending the debate. JFK was about the future. He wanted people to know that if he was elected, we’d be doing all sorts of new and exciting things. FDR was the New Deal guy.
What’s your “thing”? What’s your point? What should I know about you?
Let’s talk about it!
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