Why I write

In six decades on earth, I’ve learned that these things are worth doing.

Learning. Because knowing a thing you didn’t know before is a joy in itself. This is as essential to me as it was when I was small — it keeps me going.

Teaching. Because that is how you can bring the joy of learning to others.

Nurturing. People need your help. Some are two. Some are 86. Some work next to you. Some sleep next to you. Sooner or later, they return what you give them — or you returning what they gave you?

Enjoying. We have eyes and bodies and tongues and brains. They deserve a little stimulation. Not too much.

I think a lot about what people will remember when I’m gone. (It’s not because I’m older; I thought about it a lot when I was 20, too.)

They will remember the teaching and nurturing, I hope. That’s part of why I write, to make that as permanent as I can.

They will remember what I learned only if I can pass it on. That’s another reason why I write.

They won’t remember the things I enjoyed. But I have learned to enjoy writing, and that makes it all the sweeter.

I have tried leading, which you might call nurturing at scale. It’s not what I’m best at. Writing is. It’s a way of leading without the troublesome power dynamic.

Here’s the thing I find less and less interesting: owning. Most of the stuff doesn’t bring joy, adds clutter, needs maintenance, and then takes up space in the trash.

So on the days I am feeling smart, there will be more learning and teaching and nurturing, a bit of enjoying, and as little buying as possible.

What are the things you find worth doing?

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  1. I find writing to be one of the best ways to leverage my curiosity and help others. I also like to test things out — usually technology, but not exclusively — to see how things work; then share my discoveries with others.

    You’re right, as far as my experience goes, what you give does indeed come back to you (in often unexpected ways).

    Reflecting on your message about being remembered, I have noticed that when you give through sharing what you have learned, others often notice — and sometimes they stop you (online or in person) to say how much they appreciate your curiosity and willingness to share.

    Knowing that my contributions were valuable to another person makes all the learning, writing, and sharing worthwhile.

  2. From the PR world…I find now more than ever meeting people is still worth doing. Then investing time in building relationships with writers/reporters/colleagues is still worth doing. Not so I can land a pitch or press release, but because oftentimes work relationships become friend relationships. And who doesn’t need more friends?

    When I’m gone I won’t be remembered for the carefully crafted press releases and campaigns. But I think they’ll remember I was quick to buy a pint, never met a stranger and tried to practice calm and kindness. I’m good with that.

  3. Intriguing post, Josh. I especially liked the disconnected thought you shared about owning – as I’ve recently come to the same conclusion.

    Enjoyment aside, I write to influence, entertain and inform. When I assume I have “one shot” at it, it forces me to identify what those things are that diminish the barriers to communication, ask thoughtful questions and lead with a gentle hand.

  4. Thanks, Josh. I can’t add a thing for this time of life, except a phase I heard recently, What you learn teach, what you get give. It does leave joy everytime. Thanks for writing like you do.

  5. I share all of your passions, Josh. Here’s something I’ve also found curiously interesting: Every year, I send myself an email discussing what I’m doing, learning, thinking about at present. I include my goals and what I want to do more/less of next. And I give myself encouragement. Sometimes, I’ll chide myself. Then, I schedule the email to arrive in my inbox a year later. I’ve been doing this for years. Collecting them creates a present-tense account of how I’ve been spending my life. It’s a fun way to hold myself accountable. The site is futureme.org…