Save It For A Rainy Day

Save it for a rainy day.

Most anyone has heard this phrase before, usually in reference to finances and the importance of setting aside money, for times when extra money is needed in order to get through a difficult situation. In some cases, I’ve heard it used to refer to work being more important than play, as most folks of my vintage have many occupational experiences that meant having to work outside; rainy days meant taking care of tasks indoors, when you were otherwise unable to work outside. Technology has put some distance between now and then, and many folks younger than myself have been afforded the opportunity to now see time outside as play, and inside as work.

Still, there are a good many jobs out there that require one to “work while the sun shines.” Farmers must tend to their fields or harvest in the dry, or they suffer the chance of becoming mired in the mud or their crop rotting in the silo. Landscapers, in much the same way, face the risk of their equipment damaging the very property they work on and rust attacking their expensive tools. Highway repairs cannot be performed under wet conditions, as water prevents new asphalt from sticking to old, and concrete would be ruined, with water washing away the binder from the aggregate. Construction workers working in the rain face not only risk damage to sensitive building materials and lumber, but face danger from electrical shock while working with power tools. Even moreso, one of those occupations that is essential to our staying dry on that ‘rainy day’ is the job of a roofer. Sure, the Architect may design the roof. The contractor may assign the jobs of framing that roof to the Carpenter who frames the roof, but it is the roofer who must perform the task of completing the roof, and his job requires that the weather be dry; as to roof over a wet surface would only trap the moisture beneath and rot the job from the inside out. His is a job of utmost importance; to perform the job he is given, and to set most everything else aside for that ‘rainy day.’

Each of these jobs has its own subset of an “All hands on deck,” when the rains come; they band and work together to help each other get their work covered and in to the dry, and protected from the rain. Then, just as quickly, they each depart to their homes or other solaces, out of the rain and in to the dry.

Technology has created, within its users, a society all its own, with no ‘rainy day’ experience. Born indoors, schooled indoors, and working indoors, they have no real concept of what it’s like to spend most of their time outdoors. Each works separately from the others, rarely collaborating, often in mock competition and without being able to step back and look at what they have created. Time outdoors has become play time, with very few accomplishments to bolster the spirit. Where once, rainy days allowed our creativity to flow and ideas to flourish, we find our creative efforts and concepts focused on feeding a corporate machine, since the ‘rainy day’ is just another day, like any before or after.

I can recall, in my sunny California childhood, rainy days were actually like mini-holidays, for those of us in school. The rain called for a cancellation of our outdoor recess and mealtimes, and special activities were arranged to suit our needs. You see, for me, schools with indoor halls and large, multi-story buildings were only seen on TV or in a Movie. Our classrooms all opened to the outside, and navigating classes often meant crossing long, unprotected expanses. This meant major adjustments for those times that everyone needed to be indoors. It wasn’t until I traveled to other states that I saw indoor schools, with interior halls and the climates that required them. I guess that was how I began to prioritize the ‘special activities’ of life to be something that needed to be saved for a ‘rainy day’.

“Make hay while the sun shines” is pretty much a spin-off of “Save it for a rainy day,” as are many other maxims that I won’t go in to; but they all point to refining your priorities with regard to what you have been given, and set aside what you can for those times you may need them. Accomplish worthy goals while you are able, and prepare for the time you may no longer be able to. Build toward what you will need, as you never know when the time will come when you cannot do what you used to be able to.

Saving for a rainy day also means being practical. Establish what you need, more than what you want. For example, a grand house with many levels is of little use to you if you were no longer able to use your legs; in this day and age, (if you must have extra levels, an elevator would be a wise investment at a very small cost) compared to the overall price of the home. An expensive luxury car has no more purpose than any other car that cost 1/10th the price of the luxury. Both will be past serviceability within 20 years, so what is the gain? I could go on, but there are a good many authors who write and even speak on the subject far better than I, but in the end, ‘save it for a rainy day’ means being prepared for failure by avoiding waste.

‘Save it for a rainy day’ is a concept that is under attack; by advertising and media, by industries that rely solely on sales to further themselves, rather than developing a product. Real Estate. Loans. Car Sales. Advertising Media. They are all Golden Carrot industries, luring people in to what’s bigger, better, and in-style. Now, I’m sure there are fine people working in those industries, and if that’s your bag, so be it. But even those gigs get better, as you save it for a rainy day.

No doubt; another maxim may be singing in your ears, right about now: “All work and no play makes jack a dull boy.” But I’m not talking about all work and no play. I’m talking about prioritizing your work and play, in accordance to your needs. Everybody needs a little play in their life; that’s why they invented recess, isn’t it? Play is important, but also important is to remember that play should be creative, rather than destructive. Some say gambling is play; Some call it destructive. Some say gaming is play; again, some say destructive. Some say that nightlife is play, and of course, some call it destructive. The bottom line, the deciding factor, is what controls your life! For many people, it takes a lifetime for them to realize how much they enjoy slowing down, being creative, learning new things; and nearly all of them say that they wish they’d started much sooner!

My hope is that you will learn sooner, rather than later, that chasing things is not a lifestyle, but the lack of a life. Set modest, humble but enjoyable goals for yourself, and if there are good tidings left over, share them; or save it for a rainy day.

Show, Don’t Tell

Show me, don't tell me

“I would have written, but…”

How many times do we find ourselves floundering, in such an introduction?

  • “I would have written, but…” I had no time.
  • “I would have written, but…” I kept forgetting to.
  • “I would have written, but…” I couldn’t think of what to say.
  • “I would have written, but…” there is just too much up in the air, right now.
  • “I would have written, but…” I just didn’t want to.
  • “I would have written, but…” the list goes on and on.

This short list is representative of a multitude of other examples for not writing, and these are primarily related to normal, simple social written communication; the day-to-day communication with others on a person-to-person basis. When we feel emotionally jammed up, inside, we struggle to communicate with others because we are waging an internal struggle of trying to sort everything out before we start trying to tell others how we feel and are doing. We simply feel that we must first figure all of our problems out and come up with our own answers, before we can open up to our own family and friends.

If our tendency among our trusted friends is to “Want answers before we give answers,” then how much moreso it is also, in business. Whether it’s answering the boss or ordering supplies, we want to sound confident and informed. Our greatest fear is to get caught not knowing what we’re talking about. Consequently, we are reluctant to put anything down in print that can be used against us or embarrass us. We might have the knowledge we need, but lack the skill to properly express ourselves, and essentially reduce our effectiveness in direct proportion to our inability to show, not tell.

What is Show, Not Tell? It’s the ability to take head knowledge and turn it into relatable, relevant knowledge. Quite often our heads are filled with the facts, but when it comes to showing real-life application of those facts, we trip ourselves up before we’re out of the gate. It becomes that point where our listener or reader rolls up their eyes, closes their mind and vacates the premises. In our own minds, we’ve seen our plans work and our products soar, but to properly convey that knowledge, we need to snap them out of their virtual vacations and spend some time taking them on a tour of a personal paradise, crafted just for them!

For instance; I can tell you that I’ve created an “App” that brings gasoline to your car. Since you’ve never really experienced such a thing, you figure I mean something like a Road Service App, where you can get someone in a tow truck to bring you gas when you’ve run out on the highway; entirely inaccurate. Here is a more accurate definition, showing instead of ‘telling’:

It’s Wednesday afternoon, and you’ve just returned to work from your lunch break. Glancing at your planner, you smile. You’ve got a great evening planned; run the kids to soccer practice, pick up your cleaning, dinner with the family and then a movie. suddenly, your boss comes out from his office, announcing a five o’clock mandatory meeting with the primary of one of your accounts that should take “less than half an hour.”

Your mind starts to race. You have planned this whole evening; leave work, stop and get gas, pick up the dry cleaning and get everybody home and cleaned up in time for your reservations. NOW what? That half-hour meeting, IF it only lasts that long, is going to ruin EVERYTHING!

But wait; you’ve got MY APP. You pick up your smartphone, and with three taps, a truck is dispatched to your car, at your location, and fills your tank, shaving off that 15-20 minutes that stopping at a station might take you. Your anxiety is relieved, and your afternoon just got more productive!

As you can now “See,” “Showing,” rather than telling, creates an imagery, not just a picture in words, but a scenery. And your scenery can be as descriptive and colorful as your heart desires, insofar as you keep your goal of communicating your product in sight. I have shown my client what my APP can do for them, without weighting them down with the complexities and details that brought the product int being, or citing numbers and demographics.

You will also notice that I didn’t include any details about how to sign up, delivery cost, how the driver knows where my car is, etc. These are questions the customer may ask, answers will be forthcoming, my client becomes an informed consumer, which leads closer to closing the sale. Each of these phases involve more showing, not telling; perhaps even a live demonstration. But every answer is yet another “Show, Don’t Tell.”

Showing makes your reader comfortable with your presentation, since it taps into their mind’s eye and

provides depth, color and detail to your product, with all of the warmth and familiarity your words can bring. But it doesn’t stop there; you can also build excitement and momentum and plug into your reader’s reasoning capabilities and emotional storehouses. It is more than a ‘commercial in words,’ it’s an expose, providing readers with the touch and feel of your product in their hands before they’ve ever touched it.

It doesn’t matter if your project is an App, a Widget, a Blog, an Article, a White Paper, a Letter, or any other written instrument, you will go farther with more conversions by Showing, instead of simply Telling. This is an art, not so much taught as it is experienced. To delve into this art is to begin to practice mentally and orally describing the things in your world that you’ve previously found to be mundane; this is where an Air Conditioner becomes “A whole-house environmental treatment system” and a front door becomes “A portal to 2,500 square feet of creature comforts and bliss.”

If you do catch yourself getting “Bogged down in the details,” simply step away for a moment, catch some air and a snack, and even daydream for a bit. When you return, read through your story and pick up where you left off, entertaining and informing the masses that await your words; something you will have to Show for you, and not tell.

~~~Thomas Whiteman