Seth Godin – My Hero

I was on Facebook this morning and I saw Lisa Manyon’s post, I knew I had to write something for this platform using Seth Godin’s wisdom.  Here is what she shared:

“The secret of being wrong isn’t to avoid being wrong! The secret is being willing to be wrong. The secret is realizing that wrong isn’t fatal. The only thing that makes people and organizations great is their willingness to be not great along the way. The desire to fail on the way to reaching a bigger goal is the untold secret of success.”

This platform is all about being willing to be wrong.  Seth and I agree it is the untold secret of success.  I have been paying attention to the Headshot snipped from Seth's blogpeople who succeed for quite some time.  Others will tell you about their perseverance, their ability to overcome obstacles – or even blame their natural born talent/ability.  From my perspective, all these observations miss the point.  I think success comes from the willingness to be wrong, wounded, out of step, a misfit, someone who marches to their own drum…whatever you want to say about this aspect of successful people.

Let me take you through a journey of quotes from Seth.

More Loose Ends

Many of those who never reach the heights of true success are all about making their efforts tidy and neat.  They tend to be perfectionists.  They seem to think if they just get it right, people will beat a path to their door.  The movie was “Build it and they will come”…not get it perfect and they will come.  Getting everything right is much more likely to handicap you than frequent screw ups.

In  fact, Seth put it this way:

“Go ahead and act as if your decisions are temporary.  Because they are.  Be bold, make mistakes, learn a lesson, and fix what doesn’t work.  No sweat, no need to hyperventilate.” 

Here are a few more quotes from this brilliant business philosopher:

  • “Courage is the willingness to speak the truth about what you see and to own what you say.”
  • “The way you make something happen is to do something that a fool could screw up.”
  • “All the creativity books in the world aren’t going to help you if your unwilling to have lousy, lame and even dangerously bad ideas.”

What About Compliance?

Ask the average corporate leader about embracing frequent mistakes and they will tell you it will result in chaos.  (First, you have to believe chaos is bad in and of itself – which I don’t believe, but it is another post.)  Imagining a corporate environment with everyone given permission to screw up is not an easy paradigm shift.  This attitude is showing up in more and more places, but it is far from the norm.

Let’s see what Seth says about compliance:

“It’s easier to teach compliance than initiative.

Compliance is simple to measure, simple to test and simple to teach.  Punish non-compliance, reward obedience and repeat.

Initiative is very difficult to teach to 28 students in a quiet classroom.  It’s difficult to brag about in a school board meeting.  And it’s a huge pain in the neck to do reliably.

Schools like teaching compliance.  They’re pretty good at it.

To top it off, until recently the customers of a school or training program (the companies that hire workers) were buying compliance by the bushel.  Initiative was a red flag, not an asset.

Of course, now that’s all changed.  The economy has rewritten the rules, and smart organizations seek out intelligent problem solvers.  Everything is different now.  Except the part about how much easier it is to teach compliance.”

I was told by a coach I was born 40 years too early.  Based on my experience in the corporate world this coach was right on target.  I have ALWAYS been about improvement.  When I was getting started in my career 40 years ago, corporations despised anyone who found a better way to do things.  Management would quickly find a reason to make my life difficult or even lay my *** off – to get me out of the way.  I was a rabble-rouser who rocked the boat.  And those boats may have needed a little rocking, but it was not at all welcome.

Seth on Copywriting

My profession is a freelance copywriter.  It is how I provide food with my meals and it is something I am proud to offer my clients.  Most of my work goes unnoticed by anyone except the amazing people I work with as a ghostwriter.  They are getting published in national online magazines as the author of some great articles.  My clients also own pretty amazing websites where I have written the page content.  I do other work, but these two types of work are my primary bread-and-butter.  So, anyone who really knows their stuff about copywriting has my admiration.  So, I will end this post with another quote from Seth:

“The reason business writing is horrible is that people are afraid.  Afraid to say what they mean, because they might be criticized for it.  Afraid to be misunderstood, to be accused of saying what they didn’t mean, because they might be criticized for it.”

One of my biggest challenges working with business owners is their fear of standing apart from the competition.  They might want to be one of the Top 10 in their industry.  But they don’t recognize they must be revolutionary – not just good – to stand out.  If you are just at the top of your industry without offering something revolutionary you will quickly blend back into the pack when someone else bites and scratches their way to the top.

NOTE:  Images and quotes found in this post were located by doing a Google search for “Seth Godin on mistakes.”  A link to Seth’s website is found if you click on his image in this post.  I highly recommend you read more of his wisdom from his insightful blog.

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