Seth Godin – Change Agent Extraordinary

Seth Godin is a marketer. He specialises in marketing and is one of the leading advocates of doing things differently. And he does not just advocate it. He is a power-house of ideas and is prepared to put his money where his mouth is.

If you aren’t familiar with him, you should be. His ideas are consistently thought provoking and, as change agents or project managers, we should be constantly scavenging for such stimulation. I am sure I will come back to Seth again, as this blog develops, but I will start by introducing you to three of his contributions, which have influenced me the most – in the order I came across them.

In this blog, I will focus on “The Dip: The Extraordinary Benefits of Knowing When to Quit (and When to Stick)”, and how it led me to focus in on Change and Project Management. Then, I will look at the wonder that is Squidoo, and tell you why I love it – recreational work. By the way, it also is the third example of someone (inadvertently) stealing an important idea of mine and becoming something of a hero to me. Seth says: get people to love your idea and they’ll want souvenirs. I loved this idea before he’d had it! In the third blog, I will talk about a video of Seth that directly led me to write this blog post.

A few years ago, I was sent a small book to review (for Training Journal), called “The Dip”. My first impression was “oh no, not another small book purporting to peddle a big idea, which is really just a piece of fluff from the author’s navel”.

But, I like short books – you can read them, and make up your mind, quickly. So I did. And it was excellent. Godin’s simple thesis was eloquently put: successful people aren’t those who persevere at everything: they are those who persevere at the right things. The key, he rightly identifies, is to drop activities that you don’t have the time and incentive to truly master, and to drop them before you hit the dip. Winners are quitters. But they quit strategically.

The dip is the point where your rate of acquiring greater skill and expertise starts to slow, after an initial spurt of development. Now you start feeling that more work leads not to progress, but to a frustrating lack of progress – you even feel like you are moving backwards. Here is where the successful people make a decision. Persevere, take the pain and triumph with real expertise, or stop and focus your efforts elsewhere.

This led me to see that what I really wanted to focus on was change, and projects. All of the training I had been developing in management, coaching and leadership had been great, but I had hit a dip. To really push my practice to the next level required a huge investment. Yet there are so many areas I am interested in that, for now, I chose to quit. I am pouring my energy into other areas.

Does quitting mean quitting? Not really. When Godin says quit, I interpret it as meaning: stop wasting your time pushing hard for success in the wrong domain. So I will. But Godin is a curious soul – read his blog – and I am sure there is nothing he does not take an interest in. Me too. So I am sure this blog will spill well beyond change, projects and risk.

The “so what?”
Read “The Dip”, read Seth Godin’s Blog, inventory everywhere you put your effort, decide where you really want to become great, focus on that, quit the rest, stay interested in everything.

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