Context vs Content | What is the difference? (Part 1 of 3)

In my work, I have the privilege of working with thousands of successful, highly motivated, ethical and well-rounded leaders every year. One of the most important issues we cover, no matter what the industry or type of organization, is context. Why? Simply put: Because if you’re not able to purposefully create and sustain one context and not another, your ability to be successful and fulfilled – and sustain that success or fulfillment – diminishes dramatically.

I invite you to think about context in 3 dimensions: 1) for yourself, as an individual, as you live your life; 2) for your most important conversations, and 3) for your organization as a whole.

This blog post is Part 1 of 3 and will focus on context for you, as an individual. Parts 2 and 3 will cover the context you establish for your most important conversations, as well as that which you create and sustain for your organization.So what, exactly, is context?

Webster defines context this way: the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning; the interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs; environment or setting in which something takes place.

Without disagreeing with Webster in any way, we also say that context can be understood as “that which goes with the text… and gives it meaning.” And we human beings are apparently addicted to meaning.

The older I get, the more important context is. It’s not physical, but it’s utterly real. And it has everything to do with some of the most important Results we produce in our lives – at home, at work and everywhere in between.

Individual Context

As an individual, your personal context – your personal “come from” – is literally declared into being, spoken into being, thought into being… by your most important “I am…” statements. Think about it. Your beliefs (which are private or public declarations) have the effect of creating this non-physical but very real space from which you take action and interact and produce results in the world. As parents, we intuitively understand the power of these declarations, especially in situations when we see our children saying things like “I’m stupid” or “I’ll never be able to…” or “I’m hopeless.” We could go on and on. We speak ourselves into being, whether we’re aware of this or not, because language creates and generates – it does not simply describe.

Remember the Big Eye metaphor? The overall objective of increasing our levels of self-awareness? Becoming aware of the personal context you have created – and are now still creating – for yourself is a fundamental first step in being able to purposefully make the most important changes you may be seeking to make in your life.

I invite you to consider declaring for yourself a personal context of Abundance (vs. Scarcity); that is, to purposefully “come from” a place of knowing that you are fundamentally already enough. You are fundamentally worthwhile and worthy and valuable as a human being, no matter what you may be doing or not doing. Yes, you are still learning and growing and becoming… and at the same time, you are enough just as you are.

I offer the following 4 context-related activities below for those interested in moving from learning “about” into learning “to do” and learning “to be.”

Click to Download FREE Context vs. Content Worksheet

I wish you only continued success, fulfillment and contribution – on all fronts. And I look forward to hearing from any of you, especially those who are doing the real-world Application exercises!