“Poke The Box” by Seth Godin

In “Poke The Box” Seth Godin goes on another rant, this time about being and initiator and starting things. The whole premise of the book is to step outside of what you are routinely do, and start new things. Be someone that starts and ships things rather than someone that is safe and compliant. Go and make something happen instead of waiting for it to happen to you. While this seems risky and our fear tells us not to, he argues that it is better to walk that line because “except in rare circumstances, failure is not fatal.” He even goes on to suggest that if there isn’t that chance that it might fail it doesn’t count as trying to make something happen because there is no consequence. I have to admit that reading this book inspires me to want to go and start something but I don’t really know where to start. And that is partially his point. “The challenge is getting in the habit of starting.” Godin means intentionally starting something, anything, big or small. Get in the habit of starting. Pick a day and a time, sit down, and start something. I think we are waiting for someone to give us permission to put ourselves out there but I find that the biggest barrier is myself. The question I found myself asking is, what would happen if I gave myself permission to start something knowing that it might fail. Obviously the severity of the consequences plays a factor in the decision but Godin says that it is worth it to be in the habit of starting. That it pays off in the long run. That it is an exciting and fulfilling way to live. It is exciting fun to work with people that do this.

Here are a few quotes from the book that struck me.

“The challenge is getting into the habit of starting.”

Starting things isn’t something I am either born with or without. Starting things is an intentional decision and gets easier and more natural the more I do it.

“When in doubt, look for the fear. That is almost always the source of your doubt.”

Looking for the fear that drives my doubt is an interesting exercise. Thinking back to when I have let fear stop me from doing something I realized that it usually meant that nothing would happen. Some might say that is good but it also means no good is happening either. Am I missing out on really cool awesome stuff because of my fear? Are others missing out on something amazing because of my fear?

“Organize (your company) for joy. These are the companies that give people the freedom (and the expectation) that they will create, connect, and surprise. The relentless act of invention and innovation is the best marketing asset.”

Not much to add except that I want that for Impact Group and the clients we work with.

“If you can’t fail, it doesn’t count.”

If there is no risk of failing then it doesn’t count as starting something. There needs to be skin in the game.

“Ideas that spread win, but ideas that don’t get spoken always fail.”

Waiting for something to happen or someone to notice without speaking up will mean my ideas will fail. I need to overcome the fear of my ideas being good or bad and just let them be ideas and share them. Ideas good or bad when shared always lead to more good ideas in the end. At least that has been my experience to date.

“Don’t wait for someone to pick you.”

I read this to mean pick yourself. Don’t wait to be discovered, discover yourself and put yourself out there. Embrace the failures. Celebrate the successes. Start something else.

As always, I try to take Godins rants with a grain of salt. He writes to the extreme to make his point and I appreciate that. Message received. It’s worth a shot, at least it will be exciting. Overall, enjoyed the book. It was a quick read and some good food for thought and hopefully some action.

Go, make something happen!