The Practice which is Seth Godin’s newest book is one I will definitely recommend to those trying to start something and those who may be struggling with what they are doing. The book has over 237 mini sessions and it is filled with wise sayings about the importance of “shipping your art”. In other words bring your ideas to live. Seth is trying to encourage and tell us that what is important is getting into the process of doing the work and being productive and not worrying about the eventual outcome or what people will think about what we do. Also, we must not wait for inspiration to strike before we act because it is our action that leads to inspiration and not the other way round.
The lessons I personally learnt from this book are:
- Focus on the process and not the outcome because while you are in control of the process you can’t determine the outcome.
- You can’t produce for everyone so find a group that match up with what you do. Trying to produce for everyone is producing for no one.
- If you seek external validation for your work you will probably end up doing nothing. No matter what you do, you can’t please everyone so you might as well do it.
- When you start out, what you produce may not look that good but as you persist in the process you will improve and get better.
- Listen to critics who give good feedback that is specific about what didn’t work for on them about your product and learn from them.
- Observe and learn from changes in the market but don’t let it control you. If you need to make changes to what you do then do so.
- Don’t let what you don’t have prevent you from moving forward. Work within the constraints of what you have to produce your best work.
- Don’t copy others, learn from them.
- Don’t wait for inspiration, create inspiration.
- Learn, learn and learn more. Who are the experts in your area of focus? Read about them not for the purpose of copying what they do but to keep learning about the best practices in your industry.
And here some quotes I like from the book:
A genius is the one most like himself.
Realer than real, truer than true.
Shipping, because it doesn’t count if you don’t share it. Creative, because you’re not a cog in the system. You’re a creator, a problem solver, a generous leader who is making things better by producing a new way forward. Work, because it’s not a hobby. You might not get paid for it, not today, but you approach it as a professional.
“Process saves us from the poverty of our intentions.”
The important work, the work we really want to do, doesn’t come with a recipe. It follows a different pattern.
This new practice takes leadership, a creative contribution—something that not just anyone can produce, something that might not work but that might be worth pursuing. It’s often called “art.”
“It is better to follow your own path, however imperfectly, than to follow someone else’s perfectly.”
This practice is a journey without an external boss. Because there’s no one in charge, this path requires us to trust ourselves—and more importantly, our selves—instead.
Let’s call it art. The human act of doing something that might not work, something generous, something that will make a difference.
When you choose to produce creative work, you’re solving a problem. Not just for you, but for those who will encounter what you’ve made. By putting yourself on the hook, you’re performing a generous act. You are sharing insight and love and magic. And the more it spreads, the more it’s worth to all of those who are lucky enough to experience your contribution. Art is something we get to do for other people.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t have to wait to be picked and we don’t have to stand by, hoping that we will feel our calling. And we certainly don’t have to believe in magic to create magic.
You can choose to find your voice, or you can continue to ignore it.
You were born ready to make art. But you’ve been brainwashed into believing that you can’t trust yourself enough to do so.
Art is the generous act of making things better by doing something that might not work.
we can’t always do much about how we feel, particularly when it’s about something important. But we can always control our actions.
Your work is too important to be left to how you feel today. On the other hand, committing to an action can change how we feel. If we act as though we trust the process and do the work, then the feelings will follow. Waiting for a feeling is a luxury we don’t have time for.
If we believe that it’s not our turn, that we’re not talented enough, we’ll do whatever we can to make that story true. We’ll sit back and wait to be chosen instead.
If you want to change your story, change your actions first. When we choose to act a certain way, our mind can’t help but rework our narrative to make those actions become coherent. We become what we do.
The alternative is to find a foundation to stand tall. We can choose to take our chance, to speak up, and to contribute.
The easiest way to go through life is to let life go through you. Give in to the prevailing winds and go along to get along. This requires very little effort because you’re not working with intent…
We make a difference in the world when we seek to make a difference. Not because it’s easy, but because it matters. This is all part of the practice.
First, you can embrace the fact that you can, in fact, trust the process and repeat the practice often enough to get unstuck. Second, you can focus on the few, not everyone. And third, you can bring intention to your work, making every step along the way count. You may not be on the well-trodden path, but wherever you’re headed, it’s important.
My final verdict is this, read the book, start your practice, get into the process, ship your work, embrace discomfort, make a change and enjoy the journey.