Seth Godin: Failing On Our Way To Mastery [The Knowledge Project Ep. #105]

Seth Godin is the author of 20 bestselling books, founder of altMBA, the Akimbo podcast and runs one of the most popular blogs in the world. Seth and Shane chat about creative work, fear, shame, trusting yourself, what it means to be a professional, how to become an observer of reality, emotional labor, how we learn and so much more.

Here are a few highlights from the conversation:

The poverty of our intentions, if you wake up in a bad mood, if you hit a speed bump, if you get a bit of negative feedback from someone who is just a bystander, it’s super easy to spiral out of control and to determine that maybe you should take some time away or that what you’re working on isn’t really important enough. In those moments, you are not the best version of yourself but you’re still yourself. If you have a practice, you get through them.

The only thing that leaders have in common is that they are leaders. The only thing that charismatic people have in common is that people think they have charisma.” But there isn’t a given set of checklist items that you have to have to be creative or to be a leader or to have charisma. Instead, we can look for what rhymes and what the patterns are. In the case of a creative, it involves somebody who has made the decision that they want to change things.

The mistake that so many people building something make is they get hung up on the feedback of people who it’s not for as opposed to being obsessed with the people who it is for. Can they live without it? Would they miss it if it were gone. Let’s make that. That’s what we should make.

Do it on purpose and you’ll find out who you are. Asking for a guarantee before you start isn’t helpful. Instead, we need to look at a concept, an idea, and be willing to try it out with intent because if we do, if we try it on for size, we will figure out if it fits us as opposed to the opposite which is spending a lot of time figuring out who we are and then going and finding the things that fit us.

The authors of most books are looking for many of the magical elements of status that comes from successfully being published. They pay attention to the bestseller list, they game it, they pay attention to reviews, they worry about what their friends think of the book even though their friends don’t read books… this is your book. You should write it at the length you need it to be to make it singular and idiosyncratic and peculiar because we don’t have an information shortage and we don’t have a book shortage.

Amateurs show up when they want to and make what they want to make. I love being an amateur at some things. Don’t sell your hobbies. Do your hobbies for you. But if you’re going to be a pro, it means you need to understand the state of the art, it means you need to raise the bar, you need to understand who it’s for and what it’s for and what change do you seek to make.

People have figured out is that shame is a soft spot on almost everybody. If you press that spot, people will shrink. They will run away. It is particularly used against women but it is used against large numbers of people to cause them to not take an action. It’s a ridiculous method because it doesn’t scale, it’s not humane, it is not kind. It’s unpredictable. Yet, we use it all the time.

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