I’m trying to get under your skin. I’m trying to get you to stop being a spectator and a pawn in the industrial system that raised us, and maybe, just maybe, to stand up and do something that scares you.
This is Seth Godin and he speaks to me. I am reading his V is for Vulnerable: Life Outside the Comfort Zone and for some reason it is where I stand. It is an ABC for Grownups and it is for people like you and me.
Here are some letters of the alphabet from his ABC picture book that are resonating for me. Perhaps they stick for you as well. I present letters A, C, D and E.
1. “Anxiety is experiencing failure in advance.”
This is what we do. We worry. I worry. And then we do not bring our best selves to the task at hand. We anticipate the worst and it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. We need to let go and have hope in what we want to accomplish. Seth calls us to be intense in what we do: “The artist wonders, ‘How can I break this?’ and ‘Is it interesting?’ Go break something,” Seth exhorts.
2. “Commitment is the only thing that gets you through the chasm.”
This is what takes us from a great idea to reality. It requires risk and a stick-to-it-ness. When change is discouraging or seems insurmountable you need to believe what others have believed for you on your behalf. You are a warrior. Change is hard work. Not everyone values it the same way. Commitment can get you through the valley.
3. “Dance with resistance.”
There is something here that I need to learn. When we embark on a change agenda it is uncomfortable for us and for others. We are pulled back to continue the status quo like some rubber band that snaps us back to the comfort of the past. It is safer to teach and lead the way we have always done. I need to learn to dance with others, to engage the unbelieving and to convince my own heart. I think I have forgotten how to dance. My moves are awkward. I cannot seem to find my place to move with others gracefully. I have been stepping on toes. And alas, I feel my own have been squished as well. I need dance lessons—this I know. This is an embarrassing weakness and my flaw. I will covenant to practice the dance until I too can dance with others. It doesn’t work to be a wallflower. Our organizations need to get everyone on the dance floor.
4. “Effort isn’t the point, impact is.”
How do we know these change efforts, these shifts in pedagogy, these new ways of learning, are making a difference? Are we better off as a system? Has the learning experience deepened for the student? How are we measuring it? How will we know that it matters? “Effort isn’t the point, impact is.”
Seth is getting under my skin. There are others that get under my skin as well. They call me to stick to an agenda of transformative change in a large, slow-moving and sometimes resistant system. Seth encourages and admonishes us to embrace ideas that “push us to take action, to embrace opportunity, not to merely watch and wait.” I’m not waiting. Are you?