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The recording project was an amazing success — even better than I expected. Over the course of 3 days, we recorded about 9-10 hours of unique material.
Our purpose wasn’t to create expert-style, how-to material. Nor was the intent to create a fair and balanced, sanitized, politically correct program.
Our purpose was to explore the edges of our comfort zones, to talk about the parts of our lives where we didn’t have complete certainty, to share things that could give us a vulnerability hangover the next day (as in “Did I really share that yesterday?”).
Our goal was to have deep, no-holding-back, conscious conversations about our relationship lives and personal growth journeys. We talked about shameful mistakes and setbacks, insights and revelations, and questions we’re still exploring. Our recording sessions included misty-eyed stories, powerful a-ha moments, and silly laugh attacks — all spontaneous, none of it pre-scripted.
What we’ve created is unlike anything I’ve seen out there. I think that’s because of the unique intention we set — to create a new product, yes, but the higher priority was to create a growth experience for each other and to stretch ourselves. The idea was to give people a raw and unfiltered glimpse into how we help and encourage each other to grow.
The main content is audio only. We shot a little bit of video, mainly to give people a clearer picture of what this looked like, but we didn’t feel like watching a bunch of people talk into mics would make for exciting video. I definitely feel that audio was the best format for this.
The content recording is done. Now we have to work through the logistics of getting it ready to release. This will involve a lot of editing work first. With the whole team invested in sharing what we recorded with the world, it’s just a matter of time to work through the launch steps one by one.
Remember that we went into this as a group of friends with an inspired idea. There was no advance planning. We don’t even have a name for this program yet.
A Different Type of Creative Process
One of our goals for this program was to lean into our edges. We definitely did that in terms of what we shared and recorded. For me there was another edge too — creating content collaboratively.
For years I’ve been creating content as an individual — articles, podcasts, speeches, 3-day workshops, etc. Even when I speak at other people’s events, which I’ve been doing frequently, I still have full control over the content I share during my segment. My material is my material.
It was a stretch for me to co-create content like this, a step beyond my comfort zone. As it turns out, I really liked it. No… actually I loved it! It was wonderful to work together as a team and to see what our collective intentions and creativity produced.
I’m also humbled by the fact that we were able to share so much amazing, authentic material in just 3 days — and had a blast doing it.
Individually, as you may already know, I’ve been working for many months on a new audio program on Subjective Reality, which is still in the works and progressing slowly but surely. This program requires an intense amount of thought and meticulous organizing of the ideas that goes into each segment. It’s very tightly structured. I’m still developing this program and will release it when it’s ready, but I’m definitely impressed by how much faster it was to create a collaborative product so quickly.
These are very different approaches, and I see value in both. A carefully planned, logically consistent program has its place, especially for people who want to see all the dots connected and all the loose ends tied up. This is a good approach for creating a complete framework where all the pieces must fit neatly together. But it takes serious cognitive work and a great deal of time to create such a product.
My book Personal Development for Smart People is a good example of the framework approach. I spent about 2.5 years doing the research and experimentation necessary to come up with the 7 principles in that book and to understand how all the principles related to each other. It was a huge undertaking to create a holistic, universal model of personal growth. There was no way to rush the process. In the end I felt really good about the result, and the feedback tells me that this work has transformed many lives for the better. I’m happy to have created such a work that will outlive me. I also use the principles from that book nearly every day, and I have many conversations with other people who’ve adopted the simple yet elegant Truth-Love-Power model for discussing their challenges and lessons. A shared language makes communication so much richer and more meaningful. A number of people have even tattooed the TLP triangle onto their bodies to help them remember to apply those principles daily.
The audio program we recorded last week, however, is a totally different type of product. It’s not a neat, logically consistent, pre-scripted package with a bow on top. It’s not a fully integrated framework. It’s full of unanswered and partially answered questions. It’s raw and passionate and inspired and swirling with potent energies — our desires, our fears, our shameful mistakes, our love of women. As individuals we had no control over how it turned out. None of us had the ability to force the discussion down a particular path. Instead, the group energy led us.
What I especially enjoyed about the collaborative approach was how much it deepened my friendships with the other guys. I learned many new things about them and feel I understand them much better. I shared things about myself that I’ve never shared publicly before. If you listen to this program, you may see a side of me that would surprise you. I think that’s probably true for all the guys who contributed. So this approach to sharing ideas aligns perfectly with my own path of growth, which has been centered around authentic communication, connection, intimacy, and more.
An obvious suggestion was to do something like this that includes women. I’m all for that. I’ve already been discussing the idea with a few women who expressed interest. The challenge is mainly a matter of logistics — getting everyone together in the same city at the same time. The guys and I agreed that there’s no way we could have done this over the Internet. That in-person energy was essential for creating the right space for this kind of conversation.
Update: This project has been released. It’s called Imaginary Men.