One of my favorite books that I read this year, and, dare I say, one of my favorite books of ALL TIME is Seth Godin’s The Practice: Shipping Creative Work. Below are highlights from each of the chapters in addition to my own commentary on the highlights. Enjoy and go get the book!
Trust Your Self: “Our work is about throwing. The catching can take care of itself… Once you decide to trust yourself then you will have found your passion… Start where you are… Identity fuels action and action creates habits and habits are part of a practice and a practice is the single best way to get to where you seek to go… Acting AS IF is how you acquire identity… The practice saves us because it’s simply the next best step.”Seth Godin, The Practice
Who are you… Better yet, who do you want to be? Have you started? What is the minimal amount of action you can take to begin the process, and, in doing so, accumulate enough evidence that affirms your desired identity? After having written 50 plus blog posts in a row, I am PROUD to say that I am a blogger. However, at first, all I deemed I needed was three posts in a row in order to be deserving of the title and rationally able to trust myself enough to continue EARNING the identity. Instead of “fake it until you make it,” ACT AS IF you are _______. ACT AS IF you can ________. ACT AS IF you were born to ________. Trust= Time x Behavior. Therefore, repetition is your Obi Wan Kenobe.
Generous: “Ideas shared are ideas that spread and ideas that spread change the world… Generosity subverts resistance by focusing the work on someone else. For art to be generous it must change the recipient… Enrollment is acknowledgement that we are on a journey together… The practice demands that we make an impact on someone. Not on everyone.”Seth Godin, The Practice
Who and what are you in service of? Think about the people whose art has INSPIRED you, made you feel seen and understood, and offered you bliss, celebration, and catharsis. Now, it’s OUR TURN to PAY IT FORWARD. It’s the generous thing to do, and it is the ONLY way to live and lead with an infinite mindset: Be ambitious by knowing who you are and GIVING IT, as opposed to knowing what you want and going to get it.
The Professional: “An idea withheld is an idea taken away… The practice is choice + skill + attitude… Skill is available to anyone that cares enough… Leaders make art and artists’ lead.”Seth Godin, The Practice
There is no shortage of good ideas. There is a shortage of those that trust themselves to be generous enough to professionally share, champion, and enroll others in the execution of good ideas. Professional doesn’t mean you have to get paid for your work. It just means you respect the work enough to do it with consistency, curiosity, and INTENT.
Intent: “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth establishing WHY we are doing it, and once we establish WHY we are doing it, we are ON THE HOOK to keep our commitment… Intentional action is also designed with empathy… Turn it from an occasional accident into a regular practice… Authenticity is a trap. An audience doesn’t want your authentic voice. They want your consistent voice… It’s the choice to do something for long-term reasons, not because we’re having a tantrum. Inauthentic means effective, reasoned, intentional. It means it’s not personal, it’s generous.Seth Godin, The Practice
Remember, it is not about you. It is about that which is bigger than you. It is about contributing to what you don’t know you don’t know. Meaning, regardless of your intentionality, there is a wake from your impact that will ripple outside of your consciousness. The opportunity is to choose to nurture your impact with the utmost care, diligence, empathy, and intention. It does AND WILL matter.
No Such Thing As Writer’s Block: “If a reason doesn’t stop everyone, it’s an excuse, not an actual roadblock… Just because you have a degree doesn’t mean you have insight, experience, and concern… Stories are real and stories can change… Our narrative informs our choices, our commitments, and, most of all, our ability to make a difference in the culture… Writer’s block is simply a side effect of our narrative… The most important parts of our lives are games we can’t imagine winning… Real competition is with our own potential not with others… Befriending your bad ideas is a useful way forward… Don’t talk about your dreams with people who want to protect you from heartache.”Seth Godin, The Practice
If there isn’t writer’s block, what is there? There is the practice. One repetition after the other. The practice is the cultivation of flow, freedom, and finesse.
Make Assertions: “The practice demands assertions when there are no guarantees… ‘Perhaps’ is the unstated word at the beginning of every assertion… before you find an answer, you’ll need to make an assertion… The act of claiming the assertion begins the cycle of better… Organizing a conspiracy is fuel for your art.”Seth Godin, The Practice
What is your Compelling Point of View? Your Compelling Point of View is a personal philosophy and vision for how things should be done (in your line of work) to have a lasting IMPACT beyond the short term, i.e., your specifically selected approach to make things better, as opposed to just sufficiently accomplish the minimum required to complete a task. Your work should mean something to YOU and whom it’s for (BENEFICIARY). When it does, it is impactful and makes things better. The way to do this consistently is to ASSERT your Compelling Point of View. Making things better isn’t a mysterious act of creation. It is the outcome of caring deeply enough to prioritize the contemplation and introspection necessary to formulate and, then, share a point of view that has the potential to be received unfavorably. There is also the potential that your point of view makes others feel safe and enrolled in also sharing their point of view. All it takes is just one assertion to create a ripple effect.
Earn Your Skills: Attitudes, of course, are skills, which is good news for all of us, because it means if we care enough, we can learn… To stand for something is to commit… The line between an amateur and professional keeps blurring, but for me, the posture of understanding both the pioneers and the state of the art is essential… Creativity doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes… Peculiarity is specific and consistent.”Seth Godin, The Practice
Aside from requiring you to respect the work enough to do it with consistency, curiosity, and INTENT, being a professional means you have AND CONTINUE to earn your skills. Continuing to earn your skills does NOT mean the hours you accumulate “at work.” Earning your skills happens during the “off hours:” rehearsal, practice, scrimmage, soundcheck, research, journaling, and feedback. This is my assertion.
Seek Out Constraints: “It’s dark and cold outside the box. But the edge of the box? The edge of the box gives you leverage. When you find the edge of the box, you’re in the place that has scared away those that came before you. It’s from this edge that you can turn the constraint into an advantage, instead of an excuse… Your work is never going to be good enough for everyone but it’s already good enough for someone.”
Seth Godin, The Practice
Yet again, we’ve been fooled and lied to. We’ve either been told to stay inside the box and do as we are told, or think outside the box. Neither is safe nor effective. The opportunity is the edge because on the edge, we have just enough perspective to be creative and innovative while being empathetic to beloved archetypal sensibilities and styles. What the Marvel Cinematic Universe accomplished over 21 films to setup Avengers Endgame is EXACTLY the kind of brilliance that came from creating on the edge of the box.