If I could share 500 words to inspire, this is the important wisdom I'd want to pass along to others...
I had the privilege of interviewing Seth at his offices in New York and share this post with you again, as the information is still so relevant. “Today’s Brilliance” below is what I took from that interview as well as from Seth’s book, Linchpin. ~ Gail
Go! Make Something Happen!
The introduction to Linchpin says it all, “The world has changed and the stakes are higher than ever. Now we’re facing a full-fledged revolution- a hypercompetitive world involving art and gifts and fear and the ability for you or anyone to make an indispensable contribution to something you care about. If you’re not indispensable, yet, it’s because you haven’t made that choice. My goal is to help you see that the choice is yours.”
In order to fully understand the present, sometimes it’s necessary to look at our past. “50,000 years ago if you didn’t want to get killed by a Saber-toothed tiger, it was best to be in a village with other people.” We learned to not offend the chief and to fit into the society. According to Seth, “It turns out we’ve built a culture for ourselves in the last 5-10 years where the opposite is true. If you sound just like James Taylor no one’s going to listen to your music because they can listen to James Taylor. If you make a video just like Spike Jones, nobody’s going to watch it because they can just watch Spike Jones. Go down the list. If you fit in, we can ignore you. Being ignored means you don’t get any traction, you don’t get any job offers, you don’t get any revenue.”
Conversely, Seth says, “On the other hand, if you go to the edges, if you do something that feels risky, that’s remarkable- that’s worth talking about. Richard Branson, Cirque du Soleil-those things were risky- that’s why we know of them. If they had been boring, if they’d been clones, they would have had to be the cheapest or be gone, and cheapest is already owned by Walmart, so you have no choice left but to be risky.”
Our world is changing fast. “There’s a fundamental shift in our culture, bigger than anything since Henry Ford, bigger than anyone imagined. Being productive in the name of the factory, increasing the efficiency of the system, becoming an interchangeable part-it’s over. It doesn’t pay any more because money-searching corporations can find somebody cheaper than you. They can mechanize it and they can downsize. So what’s left? What’s left is to race to the bottom, which is no fun, or to climb to the top, which involves being artistic and original and surprising and thriving without a map and doing work that matters and makes a difference.”
Being artistic and original can be a new concept for many. Seth believes, “We’ve brainwashed generation after generation to fit in instead of stand out. The lizard brain- the part of our brain that’s been around for a million years, rules our life when it shouldn’t. It causes us to make bad decisions. The fear of being laughed at is a real problem.”
Seth shared some tips to remember when breaking out of the mold and thriving without a map:
1) Don’t worry about what other people think. “If you’re willing to be laughed at you’re way more likely to succeed.”
2) Living outside your comfort zone isn’t a bad thing. “When I feel the fear, I know that I’m doing something right. And if I don’t, then I’m probably doing something boring. For me, the fear is a signal that I’m on the right track.”
3) Marketing matters. “Everything is marketing. Marketing is not advertising. Everything you do, the stories you tell, the way you live your life -it’s all marketing.”
4) Do things that are scarce. “Things that are scarce are valuable. And what is scarce is respect, keeping your word and being transparent. What is scarce is originality, creativity and making a difference. What’s not scarce is fitting in, doing what you’re told and blaming someone else. If you want to create things of value, you should do things that are scarce.”
5) You don’t need anyone’s permission. “You probably should stop waiting for permission. If your excuse is, ‘My boss won’t let me’, well of course she won’t. Because what you’re saying to your boss is, ‘I want to do this cool thing and if it fails it’s your fault and if it succeeds I get the credit’. Who would give you that deal?” Don’t wait for permission- just do it.
Seth summarizes with, “Today is a turning point, a once-in-a-lifetime moment in time when you get to make a choice. Every day, people like you are choosing to go down a less well-defined path, one in which they make choices and make a difference. It turns out that not only does this fulfill our potential as workers and citizens it is also precisely what the marketplace demands. Instead of focusing on complying with management as a long-term strategy for getting more stuff and being more secure, we have a chance to describe a powerful vision for our future and to actually make it happen. This new dream isn’t about obedience, it’s about vision and engagement.”
“Go make something Happen!”