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Two Questions | Why You Must Love Obscurity

Obscurity can feel like a curse. In a sense it is. The thing is, whatever we create, we create with the intention of making some sort of difference.

Whether you’re a creative or leader, nothing you ever create will make a difference unless you release to do so. This means letting your work out. It is preparing a feast for critics.

Nothing you do will ever be relevant without it seeing the light of day. Nothing will ever be perfect. Anyone and everything that has touched and changed the world has done so with infirmity.

Whether apparent or subtle the weaknesses never got in the way of bringing some sort of change. Focus on infirmity and inadequacy has sapped power from many to make significant change.

These are some of the reasons you must love obscurity.

Obscurity is an opportunity. Yes, you read that right. Obscurity is an opportunity to get better. It is an opportunity to build structure for sustained success.


Wine | Why You Must Love Obscurity

Structure | Why You Must Love Obscurity

Many plan more for possible failure in the pursuit of success than for the success they pursue.

Obscurity is a great thing in its place, allowing you to build a platform that will uphold your success. For obscurity to work for you, you need to ask questions:


Obscurity is a great time for defining what your success is like. Too many pursue success with too vague of a picture. Is success as you see it understood by your team or family the same? By those who matter?

How are you going to sustain your success? How are you going to stay poised for innovation?

Not Just You

Innovators can be intense. Sometimes, at the expense of those close to them and their families. One of the questions you need to ask yourself in consultation with relationships that matter, is “what measures do we need to put in place to maintain healthy relationships when the cloud of obscurity lifts?”

Fighting myopia must never be restricted to your work. It is important for every area of your life. You are not as fragmented as you like to tell yourself. Everything about you is connected.

[image by Mark Fischer | cc]


Structure | Why You Must Love Obscurity

An earlier post I did on loving obscurity, focused on obscurity as a place to get better. Check out Wine | Why You Must Love Obscurity” here

Not taking advantage of your season of obscurity in pursuing dreams or vision robs you of greater opportunities when the break you hope for comes. Obscurity can be used to enable you and your vision. Don’t moan about what you don’t have. Don’t worry about not having the attention of the world. At least not for now…

One of the reasons there are many “one hit wonders” is because they never thought and planned beyond their possible success. Some things just go viral. They take off at an astronomical pace and they quickly overrun the dreamers and visionaries.

when you’re out of sight you must be just as driven in building the future for your dream / vision

There are things I wish would ‘just take off’. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. Unfortunately there are seasons of obscurity. Think about the Facebook phenomenon. This social network has taken over the world. When you look at such success remember: Facebook was once a college dorm project.

Apple was once a garage project. Nelson Mandela was once a little boy chasing cattle in an obscure Xhosa village, in South Africa. The list goes on… Why is it that some of the huge successes today are still standing. You guessed it: Obscurity.

Obscurity at different stages of the growth of some of the great organizations and dreams we admire, gave them time to get ready for success. Obscurity can help you build a dream and enterprise that will stand strong when success comes. It will guarantee that you don’t become another “one hit wonder”.

Obscurity gives you time to clarify who you are before the world starts asking.

Obscurity gives you time to build structure into your dream or vision. It is a great opportunity to work through how you will manage success. It may be completely different when the break actually does come, but it means that you some sort of structure. A little structure is what separates the one hit wonders from sustained success.

“Slow” allows you build structure to support your success. The pace of success and the excitement of the big break can be so demanding you overlook structure.

Leaders, artists and other dreamers spend a lot of time getting their product right. They focus heavily on perfecting the offering. While this is great, it is incomplete if there is no plan for dealing with success in the development of your “product”.

What structures will you have in place to deliver greater demands for your product when it succeeds? What change will you need to keep out in front for your product or offerings to be scalable? How will you handle your profits or gains? What are you going to do with a greater platform and influence?

Love obscurity, it gives you the opportunity to build structure to sustain your success. It guarantees that you will not be a “one hit wonder”… only if you love and use it before success hits.

 [ image by: MyNameMattersNot | cc ]


Wine | Why You Must Love Obscurity

I was privileged to be a part of a Backstage Leadership class, where we got to interact with some very great minds and people. Many sessions were very challenging from leaders that had proven themselves. One of the classes I won’t forget in a long time, if at all, was with Jon Acuff.

Jon is a New York Times best-seller author. Among other books he’s written Quitter and his most recent, The Start Book. He shares his story of how he bridged the gap between his dream job and his day job. In the interview we had with Jon and in his book, Quitter, he shares about the importance of the hustle.

He encourages people chasing their dreams to embrace the hustle and, in a nutshell, love the period of obscurity.

obscurity can enable your dream if you play nicely with him

The truth is most (normal) people want their breaks and they want them now. Leaders want to see the organizations they lead achieve unprecedented success and they want that now.

Obscurity can be a very good thing, if you use it well.


Jon encouraged staying true to your cause or dream. If your break had to come five years from now, make sure you’re five years better when it comes. It is easy for people to stop working on their dreams because they want the break first. Ironically, the break is often a result of labor in the dark, where no one sees.

Use obscurity to work uninterrupted, far from the crowd, stage and lights, which has its own pressure. Use obscurity as your cover. The days of obscurity are days of getting better.

Love your dream enough to do something about it when you’re your own audience

Working in the dark, almost undisturbed is where you want to be. That is the perfect place to prove yourself to yourself before going to make any claims to the whole world.

When it is time for performance it is too late for a rehearsal. Flopping a performance you could’ve rehearsed from is the worst give you could ever give yourself. Your credibility is at stake.

Obscurity allows you to build muscle and competency. You will need these for credibility. Your credibly hangs on what you do in obscurity.

If you do the work, when the break comes you will be good for your promises. You will be credible. Fame and credibility will beget more fame and credibility, and more opportunities.

If you’re not focused on getting better and your break comes the result will be a great big fall. Not using obscurity to get better is building your own gallows.

Love your dream enough to love the obscure part of the journey to realizing your dream.

Here’s a follow up post to this one: Structure | Why You Must Love Obscurity

[image by Very Quiet | cc ]