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28Feb/114

Poking the Box and Failing Promiscuously

Seth Godin's new book "Poke the Box" could be a companion manifesto to "How to Fail."  Forgive my arrogance in saying a thirteen-time bestseller's highly-anticipated new book could be a companion to my own, but Seth essentially says in "Poke the Box" that egomania can be good.  Especially when it turns you into an initiator.

"Poke the Box" is Seth's call for initiative.  We live in a world predominantly without initiative, where people would rather maintain the status quo than shake things up.  And, you're not going to succeed that way.  "You can't get blander than bland" as Seth says.  Because you know what often happens when you try to shake up the status quo, when you try to not be bland?

FAILURE.

You have the nerve to approach the attractive woman at the bar?  FAILURE.

You try to start an innovative new company?  FAILURE.

You produce art and put it out into the world?  FAILURE.

"The more you do, the more you fail."  And, Seth says that's great:  "Be promiscuous in your failures" he adds.  Poke lots of boxes, I think to myself and snicker.  (Seth is smarter than me, but I'm much crasser than him, so I think we're even.)

Don't react, initiate.  Don't be a pussy, SHIP.  Find some balls and go after your dreams.  Don't be the wallflower in the corner waiting to get picked.  You never will.

Quit waiting to be chosen.  Quit blaming others for not picking you.  Pick yourself.

I meet countless people every day that tell me, "You're lucky.  You're lucky you got published.  I wish someone would publish me."  And, yes, perhaps I was a little lucky for getting picked once.  But all being picked taught me is that the picking part is the most irrelevant part.  Now I know you don't need to be picked, you can create your own destiny all by yourself.  In fact, you have to.  "Draw your own map" as Seth says.  Self publish.  Start a blog.  Throw that short story collection that's gathering dust in your desk drawer up onto Kindle.  Do you want to be the author who whines for the rest of his life that no one has "discovered" him?  Or, the one that throws her book up on Kindle just to see what happens?  That latter option is much scarier.  That latter option could produce a work that never sells, that could be hated by everyone who reads it, that could truly fail.  And, the onus would be 100% on you.  Whining and blaming others is just cowardly.

"Somehow, we've fooled ourselves into believing that the project has to have a name, a blog, and a stock ticker symbol to matter."

It doesn't.  Certainly not in the year 2011.  All that matters is putting it out there and affecting people.  As I said, no one cares who published it.  Not any more.

I know, risk is scary, right?  Failure is scary too.  But, in today's world, being non-risky and never failing is an even bigger risk.  And, obscurity is the worst thing in the world.

"The person who fails the most, usually wins," says Seth.  He's right.  "Poke the Box" will hopefully be the kick in the ass that makes you go, go, go.

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