The Creation of an Artifact

  • Jeff Gibbard
  • 5 min read

I lost my grandmother recently. I have people in my family who are sick. I’ve been thinking about mortality since I was a child as my father was a funeral director and my mother nearly died in a car crash on my last day of high school.

That life is short, and we have no idea when our number gets called is not something I’m likely to forget. I think about what people will say about me after I’m gone. I wonder if any of my words will live on, and if so, for how long.

Today, I want to invite you to think about your legacy and the purpose behind your work.

I’m not sure it’s possible to Become Superhuman without at least some thought about the meaning of our lives, specifically with regard to how it impacts those around us, and the world after we’re gone.

Content

person using both laptop and smartphone

So much of today’s world, especially marketing, is centered around content. Attention is the modern currency, “data is the new oil,” and knowledge work requires us to publish frequently to remain relevant.

Because of the pressure to keep up, we’ve become excellent at depersonalizing the work, making it into a largely forgettable commodity. We follow the algorithm and let it show us where to go as we desperately try to understand the current attention exchange rate. Now with the growing popularity of AI writing tools and AI art generators (see: Alchemy and the creation of an artifact by Wonder), we find ourselves one step further removed from self expression, yielding our creativity and voice to 1’s and 0’s trained by our inputs.

Many of us will inevitably become more focused on the quantity and speed of the output, than we will on the legacy it leaves behind. There is another option, and it is one that helps us to decide where to focus our time and attention while avoiding the chaos of moving at ever increasing speeds, chasing the next best thing.

Body of Work

I recently came across two things that got me thinking.

The first is a video by Nerdwriter1 on Youtube about Why Tarantino Will Only Make 10 Movies. The second was a blog post by Seth Godin called Your Autobiography. What both of these point to, are discussions about our bodies of work, our legacies, and the stories we leave behind.

Those whose lives and work have made a lasting contribution to art, society, and science, were often obsessively focused on something. Their work often transcended their choice of medium, opened the door to those who came after them, and left a permanent mark on the world that will continue long after the memories of those who knew them personally disappear from existence.

grayscale photo of person walking on pathway between trees

Dale Carnegie didn’t make “content” when he wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People. He crafted an artifact that has been passed through generations and will continue to influence people even after you and I are gone.

Malcolm X, Marsha P. Johnson, and Marie Curie will all be remembered for decades or centuries to come, not because they wanted to be popular, but because they sought to affect change in the world. They were not engaged in fleeting exercises, they committed themselves to a purpose. Their life’s work are filled with artifacts that we will continue to reflect upon and experience for generations to come.

Make more artifacts

I have plenty of unimportant projects, hobbies, and one-off interests that I will indulge from time to time — be on the lookout for my comprehensive manifesto about how to make the PERFECT bagel with lox. There is absolutely nothing wrong with indulging an interest just for fun. I’ve already logged significant hours protecting Gotham from crime on PS5.

However, when it comes to your life, I believe it is important to take a very specific type of risk — the risk of finding something worth committing yourself to. Focus on something you’d like to see change, think deeply about it and formulate your own unique position, and then swing big. When you create content, make art, or present and promote it, I hope you will do it in a deeply personal way.

I am challenging you to create something that can withstand the test of time.

person holding brown sand close-up photography

I try to spend the majority of my time creating things that I think will empower people to make a dent in the world. I wrote The Lovable Leader because I truly want to contribute to changing the nature of work to one that is filled with more trust, respect, and kindness. The book is my artifact.

Today, I’m calling on all superhumans:

Find something worth investing your heart into and then go put it out into the world.

That’s the assignment. Let me know how it goes.

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