Relating to or denoting a plant that retains green leaves throughout the year.
We often talk about being evergreen when we’re talking about content. Content that is evergreen sticks around. It may not last forever, but it does last a very long time.
A blog post can be evergreen. So can a book, a movie, a business, or a building. Rick Astley’s song, Never Gonna Give You Up, is evergreen. And so is Warren Buffett’s business, Berkshire Hathaway. Evergreen work is what Ryan Holiday calls a perennial seller in his book by the same name.
Creating evergreen work takes early mornings and late nights. It takes consistency. It takes digging deep and pulling out ideas that others have overlooked. It takes synthesizing hundreds or thousands of pieces of information to come up with a new way of looking at the world. In short, it takes time and effort.
And sadly, most of us aren’t up for it. Most of us get caught up in doing work that’s not evergreen. Instead we obsess over work with a short shelf-life.
We do things like publishing e-books written by others for profit, instead of publishing incredibly useful and unique insights based on our personal experience or in-depth research. Things like building yet another online course to teach people how to build online courses. Things like building drop shipping sites to game the margins and make a a few quick bucks.
This “work” doesn’t last, and it doesn’t have an impact. They are flashes in the pan. Thieves in the night that steal your true self’s unrequited passion and dreams.
Don’t do that! Your super short time on this planet is undoubtedly worth more than that.
Instead, be evergreen.
Not only is being evergreen far more impactful and fulfilling, it’s actually the easier path.
Because so many people are obsessed with being just a little better than the person who came before them or the person down the street, gaming the margins, and looking for profit, that means there’s a lot less competition for evergreen work. It means that you actually have a shot at making a lasting impact.
If you ignite your passion in the bowels of your soul, wallow in incomprehensible complexity, and press on through the sleet and hail and frozen wasteland that is obscurity, you have a chance. A fleeting, but real chance.
No, not a chance at fame or money or power. Those vain goals will only take you back to the place you came frome. What you have a chance to do is to make something that lasts. Something that people, perhaps only a few dozen, will talk about for decades to come.
But of course I’m lying. You also have the chance at becoming a millionaire with your own talk show. That, too, could happen. But it’s not worth focusing on.
In either scenario, rich and famous or incredibly normal, it’s much better to strive to do work that lasts than to put around margins and fight for meager scraps.