When was the last time you did something for the first time?
That’s the opening line of Seth Godin’s Poke the Box, a manifesto about producing something that’s scarce, and therefore valuable. This is a book for a generation that’s been taught to follow the right path to stop waiting for a road map and start drawing one instead.
This book is a locker room halftime speech about taking initiative in your job and your life. Godin says that one of our scarcest resources is the spark of initiative – the person with the guts to say, “I want to start stuff.”
Without the spark of initiative, you have no choice but to simply react to the world. If no one says “go,” the project languishes. If no one insists, pushes, creates, cajoles, and launches, then there’s nothing: it’s all wasted.
– Seth Godin
This “Poking” he talks about doesn’t mean getting it right. It means taking action.
“Change is powerful, he says, “But change always comes with failure as its partner. ‘This might not work’ isn’t merely something to be tolerated; it’s something you should seek out.”
We need less people with faceless online opinions and more people taking reckless, fear-free actions.
I love that Seth draws a distinction between knowing what to do and actually doing it. He says:
There’s not a shortage of what-to-do knowledge. There are plenty of really smart, well-trained people in organizations large and small who know exactly what to do. The shortage is in people willing to do it.
It reminds me of the proverb: There are five frogs on a log. One of them decides to jump! How many frogs are left on the log? Five.
Because deciding to jump is not the same thing as jumping.
Think of something new.
Excellence isn’t about working extra hard to do what you’re told. It’s about taking the initiative to do work you decide is worth doing.
– Seth Godin