Lesson 29: Developing rapport by avoiding perfection
All about wabi-sabi
Or, why you should aspire to be like Batman, rather than Superman.
I realize you’re probably still putting the finishing touches on your micro-course. I don’t want to overload you with too many new ideas, so this lesson and the next will be a little lighter than usual.
This one is a cautionary tale about the dangers which accompany writing a micro-course.
You see, when you write something intended to teach, you set yourself up as an authority. And that is good for giving you credibility in Sam’s eyes — but it can lead to some unfortunate mistakes as you continue to write to him; unfortunate patterns of thinking on your own part, that can end up wrecking the rapport you want to build as your email sequence continues.
This comes from the natural distance that you’re setting up between you and Sam. If you drink too much of your own Kool-Aid, you stop seeming real.
Today you will learn three basic lessons about keeping it real with Sam in the weeks ahead, as seen through one of the foundational interpretive grids for all of life — Superman v. Batman. In the process, I hope I’ll also illustrate the value of “edutainment” — something we’ll talk about plenty more soon.
Lesson 1: don’t try to conceal the fact that you actually have to try
One of the most annoying things about Superman is how overpowered he is. I mean, it’s bad enough that he’s indestructible, can fly at many times the speed of light, and that his sneeze will destroy an entire solar system.
But here’s something even more annoying: despite his ability to hear every conversation on the planet, multitask at speeds where common mortals appear motionless, assimilate complex books in seconds, freeze or melt most materials, see through anything except lead, fly faster than the U.S.S. Enterprise, etc...not only has he been completely unsuccessful at eliminating crime worldwide, but he can’t even get it under control in a single city.
This implies that he is not merely dimwitted and incompetent, but also incredibly lazy. Even a determined moron — or an indolent genius — with these sorts of powers would still have solved the problem by now.
If you gave Batman those powers, the world would be a very different place.
Yet Batman manages to keep Gotham under control with nothing but a good brain, a buff (but super-powerless) physique, and a few billion dollars’ worth of custom technology.
How to apply this to your copy
I know. This is all extremely interesting, and you probably had a great rebuttal ready for that snarky comment about indolence (because, if nothing else, All Star Superman established beyond doubt that he is a genius) — but what in the blue blazes does it have to do with writing good copy?