Introduction: Review: Poke the Box by Seth Godin
“Imagine that the world had no middlemen, no publishers, no bosses, no HR folks, no one telling you what you couldn’t do. If you lived in that world, what would you do? Go. Do that!”
That’s a powerful statement, and it is found in Seth Godin’s manifesto Poke the Box. This statement nicely complements what Dorothea Brand stated in her formula for success, which is, “Act as if it were impossible to fail.” Imagine a world where you approached every task as if it were impossible to fail.
Yes, you would experience failures, many times, but you would enjoy far more successes because you were consistently taking action. Yes, you would feel fear when you venture into the unknown. You would always be starting and finishing, and dipping into the fear. Susan Jeffers says, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” And you would accomplish far more than you ever would without that attitude and mindset.
What is Poke the Box by Seth Godin About
Seth Godin is a thought leader, who uses plain language to explain his ideas, and his message is consistent throughout his books. Poking the box is about taking action – starting and finishing. It’s about experimenting and discovering what works and what doesn’t. It’s about knowing that X will happen, if you do Y because you have tinkered around and found this out for yourself. Poking the box is about taking the initiative, and not waiting for someone to give you permission before you can act.
Instead of waiting for an invitation that may never come, you simple show up and get to work. In Poke the Box, Godin shares his ideas with you.
Here are five great ideas that I extracted from Poke the Box that I’d like to share with you.
Five Great Ideas from Poke the Box by Seth Godin
- Excellence is about taking the initiative to do work you think is worth doing.
- Human nature is to need a map. If you’re brave enough to draw one, people will follow.
- There is a new kind of capital around – Instigation Capital – the desire to move forward, and the ability and the courage to say yes.
- Don’t wait for someone to choose you to sit at a table, choose yourself.
- When you radically depart from the status quo, make sure that you explain to others, especially influencers, why the change is necessary. Don’t isolate potential supporters.
Excellence Is About Taking the Initiative
We live in a culture where most people play it safe because it’s how we are conditioned. Leaders in organizations say they want to have a culture of innovation, yet they penalize those who try and fail. Therefore people seldom like to standout and draw attention to themselves – who wants to fail publicly and be ostracized – so instead they conform. It’s refreshing when someone takes the initiative and does what needs to be done despite the odds, instead of waiting for permission. Eventually, initiators start to progress rapidly.
Human Nature is to Need a Map
I often get upset when I buy a product or service and the provider neglects to explain to me exactly what actions I need to take. I get frustrated, and I’m sure you’ve been there before. But the interesting thing is that when I get so ticked off and decide to fill in the gaps, fill in the missing information, magic happens and it’s more of a learning experience than if I were handed everything. But I am the exception, and if you are like me, you are an exception as well. So take the initiative and create the roadmap for others because they won’t do it for themselves.
The world is moving so rapidly that it is impossible to stand still. Harv T. Eker says it best when he says that if you are not moving forward you are dying. There is no longer such a thing as standing still. This new concept, Instigation Capital, put forth by Seth Godin is an interesting one. It’s important for us to Just Start It, move forward, and finish what we start. We have to practice saying “Yes” and have the courage to say “Yes” while others are saying “No” or think they are “Sitting on the Fence”.
Don’t Wait for Someone to Choose You
The world will pass you by if you wait for someone to choose you, to anoint you with that sacred oil, or invite you to the table. Choose yourself! It’s not the status quo, but it’ okay to sometimes depart from the status quo, especially when you are creating art, doing the things that matter to you, the things that change people. At a networking event, the speaker told us that when you attend a networking event you should assume the role of the hostess. What does a hostess do? She takes charge. Be the hostess, take charge and set the tone. Initiate! Initiate and then Initiate!
When you radically depart from the status quo
A common factor that’s attributed to successful major change initiatives is that the people leading the change Communicated, Communicated and Communicated. People who were impacted by the change understood the reason for the change. And those leading the change sought out champions to support them – people who had influence and authority. If you create art that is radically different from the norm, even if it will change lives radically, unless you communicate that, people will not pay attention.
These are just five great ideas from Poke the Box by Seth Godin and I’m sure that your five great ideas would be different from mine. But this seminal work is worth paying attention to. What’s one thing that aggravates you at work? Change it and make it better, don’t ask your boss for permission. Be the hostess and initiate. I recommend that you read Poke the BoxI, and the best part is that you can read it in an hour. I bought the Kindle version which was under 85 pages. Go and create some art.
How can you use this information? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
- Linchpin: Are you Indispensable? Seth Godin
- Poke the Box, Seth Godin
- Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination, Hugh MacLeod
- Feel the Fear . . . and Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers
- Wake Up and Live, Dorothea Brand