Has this ever happened to you before?
You’re running (let’s stop there), and you notice someone pacing in their yard. Upon approaching the person, you realize what they are doing; they're raking their yard (with no leaves in it).
This happened yesterday. I assumed the woman had just cut the grass and was raking the clippings.
People-watching is something I do frequently while running and in everyday life. I love observing behavior and, if given a chance, discussing why they behave that way.
But after a half-mile of running since seeing this woman, I couldn’t put the puzzle together. Why the hell would she be doing that?
She wasn’t picking the clippings up. She was raking them to distribute them across the grass better. Now it made sense, at least the behavior piece—the why was still up in the air.
Why was she doing this?
My best guess: She’s OCD and did not want small piles of clippings in her yard (Nothing wrong with being OCD).
Or maybe it was to make the yard look nicer? That reason was debunked as I ran a block past her and could not tell any difference.
I am not saying this woman is inferior for doing this. All I'm doing is observing her and attempting to figure out why she spends time and energy doing this.
Something I forgot to tell you was that she was easily over 80 years old. So the chance of her falling and hurting herself is pretty high. She should ask herself, is the value of raking the clippings higher than the risk of “death?”
My answer would be no. Instead, she would do better in some therapy classes for her anxiety (to be clear, I’m a huge advocate for therapy).
Now, how does this relate to you? You might be doing the same thing when it comes to editing others' content or improving yours.
When editing, your goal is to make the content better.
When raking, your goal is to make the yard look better.
We could dance in circles, explaining what “better” technically means. But I think describing it as raising the value of whatever you’re editing is sufficient.
I have seen many people provide feedback or edits that sickly resemble raking grass in your yard. They do nothing to improve the content.
Instead, they aim to make it look like they contributed rather than figuring out how to improve the content.
This looks like minor picky edits, not focusing on flow (structure) first, or giving feedback to hear yourself (I’m guilty of this one).
What can you do instead? First, figure out the goal for your feedback (feedback = edits, thoughts, and areas to improve).
Is it early in the content creation process, and you should focus on editing structure (foundation)?
Or is it closer to publishing, and you need to perform a grammar and spelling check?
Step 1 = Define goal of feedback (for that stage of creation)
Step 2 = Give actionable feedback to achieve the goal (for that stage of creation)
Step 3 = Observe how your feedback is received and whether it helped achieve the goal
Step 4 = Make changes to how you deliver feedback based on any findings from step 3
While we may all fall into the trap of raking grass, it’s essential to notice it (and call it out) and make progress in improving your feedback.
Great feedback is the only reliable path to sustainable improvements.
If you want to create “better” marketing, you must harness your ability to give and recieve feedback.
🧠 // JO