To build a ship, teach them to yearn for the sea…


“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I stumbled upon this quote today, and it resonated with me like few others. I immediately saw the direct connection to my daily work and struggles with social business: how to shift from asking people to be social, to showing them the value social has for them as individuals.

I’ve gone through a few iterations of analogy where social was the sea, or social was the ship…. but what I’ve discovered is social is nether of those things. Instead, the ship is a best in class organization (or even an individual’s own digital eminence), the sea is the desire to improve one’s own life /career, and social is merely one of the tools to help you get there.

Last week I discussed Building your success by claiming your name-space. In that post I touched on a few reasons why you would want to be active in social media channels from a professional perspective. But I think I went about it from the wrong angle. Instead of telling you that it is important to be social, I should be showing you how social activity is a vehicle to help you obtain that which you long for; that vast and endless sea.

Here’s a simple exercise:

  1. Think of someone whom you’ve never met in person, but can identify as an expert in their field. Got it?
  2. Ok, now, think about how you KNOW they are an expert… (I’m guessing that it is through direct or indirect interaction in some form, be it email, telephone calls, or other non-face-2-face interaction.)

If you’re reading this post, I’m confident at least some of that ability to identify the person as an expert came from some level of sustained social-media interaction you either saw or participated in directly. If you can identify anyone as an expert or thought leader, you can see the value of social business.

And that, my friends, is the power of social media in business: the ability to be identified as leader in your space and scale the visibility far greater than ever before. Being recognized as an expert, or thought leader in your chosen field is a huge boon to your ability to be hired or promoted and in turn improving your own career. The added benefit for employers is that when you hire on someone active in the social spaces, you gain that bit of status and eminence as well.

Social business activity really is a win-win for everyone: we not only get the ship built, but more importantly we get the ability to sail that vast and endless sea.