The Power of Being Invisible

Book recommendation: “Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion,” by David Zweig.

invisiblesI’m just starting this one, but the title alone sold it for me. In his introduction, Zweig writes:

“… I was fascinated by people who chose to do work that required extensive training and expertise, that was critical to whatever enterprise they were a part of, yet knowingly and contentedly, they rarely, if ever, were known by, let alone received credit from, the outside world for their labor. What makes Invisibles so captivating is that they are achieving enviable levels of fulfillment from their work, yet their approach is near antithetical to that of our culture at large.”

The idea of doing important, meaningful work without receiving any notoriety runs against a culture where even the most mundane daily tasks get posted on social media for audience approval.

Two points come to mind as they relate to journalism.

  1. We are in the wrong business if we write or edit to seek applause. It’s nice when that happens (more often for writers than editors), but it can’t be our primary motivation. As a team we applaud each other internally, and want to do more of that. Often, though, when we’ve done our best work, we are indeed invisible.All of which fits very nicely with Colossians 3:23:  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters …”
  1. As we identify people and their stories, the best tend to be those that the world has overlooked: Not the famous entertainer, but the one who drives the tour bus. Not the pastor, but the parent sitting with a special-needs child in the back row.

Everyone has a story. The biggest sense of fulfillment I get as a journalist is to listen to someone’s story and then retell it, for the first time, in words, photos or video.

All while remaining invisible and letting God get the applause.

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