Back in December, I had been joking with Doug Shaw about clickbait. It was that time of year that there are plenty of articles circulating about the perils of the festive season. So just for fun, I wrote one myself, and gave it a clickbait sort of title. It was a list. With numbers and everything. It turned out to be one of my most viewed posts of the year. And I had written some seriously good rants about employee engagement. Harrumph.
This stuff is everywhere. I use a few Apps for collating articles I’m interested in. They are typically a mixture of stuff about work, HR, social media, and due a desire to get a little fitter, running and fitness too. Subjects that are right up there with leadership traits articles for promising the easy answer. This one exercise is going to tone your butt, give you that essential thigh gap, blitz your stubborn belly fat. All you need to eat is this one new superfood! The key to lifelong fitness is at your fingertips, just click the link. The only article you will ever need to read.
Only they all are.
Whether it’s the key to health, the definitive way to ensure that you keep your new year’s resolution, the five skills of highly effective leaders, what is it we are really searching for?
A quick fix? A neat and tidy solution? Someone with all the answers? A magic wand perhaps? Or perhaps just something easy to read over breakfast.
Why do we believe that LinkedIn Pulse has the answers we are seeking rather than our own selves, our own experiences and knowledge? We seem to prefer to look externally for easy answers, rather than internally.* Maybe that is just the easier option.
When coaching, we work on the basis that the individual being coached has the answers. Our role as coaches is to help them find it, to make them resourceful. One of my favourite books, A Time to Think, says simply; the brain that has the problem also has the solution.
One of the most scary things however, are the shares and likes and views that such posts clock up. Sometimes into the many thousands. So it is easy to see why people write them. But quantity does not equal quality of thinking.
Books, blogs, articles. They can all help us think differently, learn something new. All provide a challenge, or just a small new idea. I will confess, I’ve read all of the tips in the ’10 ways that you can improve your running’ links. But they disappoint. Promise much but don’t deliver. There is no wisdom there, after all. And a week or so on from the click, I can’t remember anything from the piece.
I have learned much from those things that I have read. Including that the meaning of life isn’t in a list. Even a 42 point one.
So I’m giving up anything that looks remotely like clickbait. I read fast. But even so, each article is 30 or so seconds of my life that I’ll never get back. Time to do something less pointless instead.