The One Question I Get Asked All The Time by JON ACUFF



Since starting in March of 2008, there’s been a single question that bubbles up more than any other. People tweet it to me. They email it to me. They ask me in 3D when I go speak places. Across the country, I hear one question and this is it:

“How do I get more followers?”

The exact language changes of course. Some people ask about more readers or more clients or more fans, but the sentiment is usually the same. And it’s not a bad question. In a world where it’s free and easy to measure everything we do online, it makes sense that we’d be invested in growing our platforms and our communities.

I’m not opposed to that question. I think it’s a good one and I think branding and marketing are geared at answering it. I just think it’s the wrong question for leaders to ask. Instead of asking, “How do I get more followers?” I think we need to be asking, “How do I give more of me, to more of them?”

That is, how do I give more of that unique passion God’s blessed me with, to more people that might need to hear it too? How do I give more of what I’ve been gifted with, to more people? I like that question for two reasons:

1. It forces us to look at what’s inside.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up with branding and growing our platforms that we don’t take the time and effort to really dig deep into the “why” of what we’re doing. Reframing the question changes the way we approach leadership, allowing us to be patient with what we do.

2. It puts the focus on the vital, not the viral.
I think the greatest way to not create something viral is to try to create something viral. But you see the double rainbow guy blow up or the hide yo wife, hide yo kids and hide yo husband guy, and you think that overnight success is the only definition of success. It isn’t. Focus on the vital, not the viral. Viral is quick and loud and bright and like a firework fades fast into the night. Vital is slow and strong and powerful.

Ultimately, I think that the things that move people. The ideas and concepts that catch hold of hearts and whole communities of people have something in common. They tend to be the overflow of someone’s heart. They tend to be something uncontrollable. Something honest and raw and real that was simply too wild to hold inside. So it was shared, someone explored how to give “more of me” and in doing so found a whole lot of “them.”

The perfect example is the Save Blue Like Jazz movie campaign. What an amazing testament to the power of crowds and movements that is. It’s difficult not to see that and be absolutely amazed that they raised over $300,000 in a month to save the Blue Like Jazz movie. It was just started by two guys who believed in the book and the power of the movie.

But here’s the truth about that. It took 30 days to raise the money, but it took 10 years for Donald Miller to make people care about it. In 2000 he released his first book. He focused on giving more of himself, to more of “them.” And 10 years later, the them wasn’t just a small group of fans and readers.

It was a virtual army, able to quickly mobilize and raise an insane amount of cash in an insanely short amount of time.

I can’t wait to see what you do. I hope it’s what you’re called to. I hope it’s an overflow of what’s inside. And most importantly, I hope you’ll not lose sight of it in your search for “them.” Focus on what matters first and don’t let audience growth, come before your audacious God.


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