What my four-year-old son taught me about successful blogging


Tell the world something important

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

This story dates back to a time when my oldest (now 15-year-old) son was just a toddler and I held a Keynote at BlogWorld Expo, where I told how my son reminded me of the powerful principle of successful blogging.

So many people have told me since then how much they enjoyed it and were struck by the story that I thought I should share it again here on the blog.

I hope you enjoy the wisdom of my four-year-old son.

Transcript “Tell the world something important”

About three months ago, I was sitting here at my desk, typing, writing a blog, and it was afternoon – about three-thirty, four o’clock.

Now, in my house around three and a half, four, things are getting a little crazy. I have a boy of four and a half years and a boy of two and a half years. And in the afternoon, after sleeping and after a long day, they can get a little silly. So at about this time of day I would normally hear, you know, a little shouting, a little screaming. And sometimes I would hear footsteps rushing down the hall towards my room and I would see the door open and various quarrels would take place in my offices. The cables are being pulled out and my kids are demanding that I film them, and all sorts of things and it’s a little fun, but also a little crazy this afternoon.

On this particular day, however, things happened a little differently. I heard some footsteps walking down the hall toward my room, but there were no accompanying shouts or screams, laughter or giggles. It was just those quiet little footsteps passing down the hall.

And then I heard the doorknob creak and the door slowly open. And out of the corner of my eye I saw my four-year-old son Xavier standing in the doorway. I didn’t look around: I wanted to see what he would do. He dropped to his knees very quietly and gently, then dropped to his stomach and began to commandfully crawl into my room.

Now Xavier has a perception that if he can’t see you, you can’t see him either. And so he dipped his head low so he couldn’t see me and started crawling into the room. And he crawled along my right side, and then he crawled in front of my desk in a conspicuous place, but he thought he wouldn’t see it. He then descended on either side of me, and then rose very quietly and cautiously behind me.

Again, I could see him out of the corner of my eye and I could feel his presence there on my left shoulder, and he just stood there for 30 or 40 seconds as I continued to knock. I was trying to finish a blog post before anything happened.

And while I was sitting and writing, he was just watching. And after a moment or two I felt him leaning next to me, and I felt him breathing down my neck and ear. And as he leaned over, he just whispered in my ear, “Dad, what are you doing?” And then leaned back again.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to describe blogging to a four-year-old. It’s not something I really know how to do, so I just said, “I’m writing a message to the world.” And he seemed to accept that.

There was silence again for a moment or two, and he leaned close to me again and said, “Dad, make sure you tell the world something important.”

And then he leaned back and knelt down again and the commando crawled out in front of me and came out the door and closed the door behind him.

And it was a bit of a bizarre moment. At first, I wasn’t quite sure why he wasn’t in his normal hyper mood, but when I started thinking about what he actually told me, it was a moment that was actually quite challenging for me when I started thinking about the kind of blogs I wrote and the information I posted there.

Tell the world something important

I have been writing a blog for eight years now and I have always wanted to tell the world something important. I’ve always had the motivation to try to help people. But as someone who lives from that, there are other motivations. You want to make money from it. You want to build some credibility and you want to build your profile. And so all these other motivations creep into it.

And so for me, that little moment in which he whispered, “Tell the world something important,” —for me, it was a challenging moment when I started thinking, “Yes, that’s so true.”

That was the reason why I was blogging at all, but it’s also the secret of every success I think I have … the success I’ve had. The moments when I really told the world something important, and not something that I think could be profitable, are the moments when things start to develop for me. Times when you are actually solving people’s problems, when you are actually doing and saying things that are important. It seems that people respond the most at that time, and those are the moments when profit really comes down to the track – at least for me, in my experience.

And that’s why I guess my message to you as I speak to the world is today’s message to keep it in the back of your mind. First of all, it is much more satisfying to be a blogger who is actually saying something important, making a difference. But second, a successful blog is actually built on that. If you’re actually doing something that’s important to people, if you’re doing something that’s real and that affects people’s lives in some way, you’re much more likely to make a blog that people will notice, and that people will believe, and that people will constantly return.

So, from the mouth of a baby, from the mouth of my former-little-boyfriend-but-now-taller-than-me Xavier, I encourage you to keep that in focus. Tell the world something important.

This post was first published on January 14, 2011 and revised on November 18, 2021.

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