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Seth Godin

Resolutions, Traps, & Letting the Horse Out of the Barn

When things get difficult, is your instinct to invest the effort to make it better, or to set a trap so it all gets worse?

Because if things get worse, well, then you won’t have to deal with them much longer.

-Seth Godin

Seth Godin is a favorite of mine. (The Icarus Deception is a particular favorite– it flushes out all the “stay small” propaganda of growing up in a small town).

Self-sabotage seems a very timely topic at the start of a new year, filled with potential, a clean slate, brimming with resolutions. It’s uncomfortable to NOT set a trap– to sit with uncertainty or with fear of failure. But it also feels like a good stretch– like muscles that hurt just a little but feel stronger each time.

In early 2019 I told a friend, “Shame is the horse to break.” (Her response was great– “Why is it a horse? Why not a cat?” She also pointed out that when you get a new, unfamiliar horse you ought to give it sugar cubes first.).

In 2020 I want to root, ground, expand– live sustainably by having daily practices (such as sharing writing here), rather than focusing on a project. I want projects to grow naturally out of practices. To stick with the horse metaphor, this means feeding the horse and taking it out of the barn at regular times. (My dog, Blue, is flexible until 10am, and then we MUST go walking or she’ll lose her mind and likely chew something up).

It’s obvious that you have a better relationship with the animal you ride (or walk) everyday, at approximately the same time. There’s trust, there’s anticipation, an easiness between you. I’d like that experience with writing books, scheduling gigs, practicing songs, making a podcast.

If I meet the horse, the muse, each day, it’s less likely to buck me off. Right? (Or, at least I’ll be less likely to be afraid of a fall, and be more graceful when I do).

Being Your Own Ambassador

I was feeling some drama (Sadness? Stress? Overstimulation?) about asking for something professionally. So I scrolled through Seth Godin’s blog for a little reset of perspective.

He writes:

Other people don’t believe what you believe, and they don’t see what you see.

You have to speak to them in their own language and on their own terms if you want to change their minds or convince them of something.

And why the conflict can feel scary:

Our fears burn so bright that if we truly face them, we think we might be blinded. …[But] once we’re truly clear about the fear, it fades. It might even disappear.

And why it can feel unfair:

In all markets, the market leader gets an unfair advantage… because it feels easier and safer...

The strategy, then, is not to wish and dream of becoming a big fish.

The strategy is to pick a small enough pond.

And that there’s a difference between projects and tasks, and that freelancers, or anyone “making a ruckus,” is doing projects:

Your goal is to create an extraordinary outcome, not to perform the tasks. The work done is simply a means to an end.

[It is not] saying, “I’m going to move this paper from here to there.”

Claim the project before you start the work.

(Hello, email, which has long been an inspiring, inconsistent, contextless task).

And finally, emphasis mine, why I want to avoid asking:

From an early age, most of us were taught to avoid [initiative]… Wait to get picked. Wait to get called on. Become popular. Fit in. Maybe stand out, but just a little bit. Failure is far worse than not trying.


The only way to get initiative is to take it. It’s never given.

How Marketing Can Be Fun

Seth Godin talks about ‘New Marketing’ in his book Meatball Sundae.

In  short, he says that Old Marketing (inundating an unsuspecting but captive mass audience with your product in hopes that some of them would buy it) only worked when people had no choice or control.

Now we can skip commercials via Tivo or online streaming, tailor our ads; we never have to watch a commercial.

Now the winning approach is based not on HOW MANY but WHO.

It’s about finding your tribe and sharing your story (and services) with them.

There’s no one to convince or Stun into submission– it’s all connection.

Instead of trying to make you believe you want what I’ve got, marketing is about finding the people who already want it.

And that’s more of an adventure, a treasure hunt.

That’s being an explorer.

That’s how marketing actually sounds fun.