Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Seth Godin

Facing the inner critic

Part of his power comes from the shadows.

We hear his voice, we know it by heart. He announces his presence with a rumble and he runs away with a wisp of smoke.

But again and again, we resist looking him in the eye, fearful of how powerful he is.

We’re afraid that like the gorgon, he will turn us to stone. (I’m using the male pronoun, but the critic is a she just as often).

He’s living right next to our soft spot, the (very) sore place where we store our shame, our insufficiency, our fraudulent nature. And he knows all about it, and pokes us there again and again.

As Steve Chapman points out in his generous TEDx talk, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can use the critic as a compass, as a way to know if we’re headed in the right direction.

Pema Chödrön tells the story of inviting the critic to sit for tea. To welcome him instead of running.

It’s not comfortable, but is there any other way?

The sore spot is unprotectable. The critic only disappears when we cease to matter. They go together.

We can dance with him, talk with him, welcome him along for a long, boring car ride. Suddenly, he’s not so dangerous. Sort of banal, actually.

There is no battle to win, because there is no battle.

The critic isn’t nearly as powerful as you are, not if you are willing to look him in the eye.

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The care and feeding (and shunning) of vampires

Seth Godin posted this Dec. 16, 2013

You have metaphorical vampires in your life.

Vampires, of course, feed on something that we desperately need but also can’t imagine being a source of food.

These are people that feed on negativity, on shooting down ideas and most of all, on extinguishing your desire to make things better.

Why would someone do that? Why would they rush to respond to a heartfelt and generous blog post with a snide comment about a typo in the third line?

Why would they go out of their way to fold their arms, make a grimace and destroy any hope you had for changing the status quo?

Vampires cannot be cured.

They cannot be taught, they cannot learn the error of their ways. Most of all, vampires will never understand how much damage they’re doing to you and your work. Pity the vampires, they are doomed to this life.

Your garlic is simple: shun them.

Delete their email, turn off comments, don’t read your one-star reviews. Don’t attend meetings where they show up. Don’t buy into the false expectation that in an organizational democracy, every voice matters.

Every voice doesn’t matter–only the voices that move your idea forward, that make it better, that make you better, that make it more likely you will ship work that benefits your tribe.

It’s so tempting to evangelize to the vampires, to prove them wrong, to help them see how destructive they are. This is food for them, merely encouragement.

Shun the ones who feed on your failures.

Change is a word…

For a journey with stress.

You get the journey and you get the stress.

At the end, you’re a different person. But both elements are part of the deal.

There are plenty of journeys that are stress-free. They take you where you expect, with little in the way of surprise or disappointment. You can call that a commute or even a familiar TV show in reruns.

And there’s plenty of stress that’s journey-free. What a waste.

We can grow beyond that, achieve more than that and contribute along the way. But to do so, we might need to welcome the stress and the journey too.

Modern laziness

The original kind of lazy avoids hard physical work. Too lazy to dig a ditch, organize a warehouse or clean the garage.

Modern lazy avoids emotional labor. This is the laziness of not raising your hand to ask the key question, not caring about those in need or not digging in to ship something that might not work.

Lazy is having an argument instead of a thoughtful conversation. Lazy is waiting until the last minute. And lazy is avoiding what we fear.

Lazy feels okay in the short run, but eats at us over time.

Laziness is often an option, and it’s worth labelling it for what it is.

If you can’t see it, how can you make it better?

It doesn’t pay to say to the CFO: These numbers on the P&L aren’t true.

And arguing with Walmart or Target about your market share stats doesn’t work either.

You can’t make things better if you can’t agree on the data.

Real breakthroughs are sometimes accompanied by new data, by new metrics, by new ways of measurement.

But unless we agree in advance on what’s happening, it’s difficult to accomplish much.

If you don’t like what’s happening, an easy way out appears to be to blame the messenger. After all, if the data (whether it’s an event, a result or a law of physics) isn’t true, you’re off the hook.

The argument is pretty easy to make: if the data has ever been wrong before, if there’s ever been bias, or a mistake, or a theory that’s been improved, well, then, who’s to say that it’s right this time?

“Throw it all out.” That’s the cowardly and selfish thing to do. Don’t believe anything that makes you look bad. All video is suspect, as is anything that is reported, journaled or computed.

The problem is becoming more and more clear: once we begin to doubt the messenger, we stop having a clear way to see reality.

The conspiracy theories begin to multiply. If everyone is entitled to their own facts and their own narrative, then what exists other than direct emotional experience?

And if all we’ve got is direct emotional experience, our particular statement of reality, how can we possibly make things better?

If we don’t know what’s happened, and worst of all, if we can’t figure out what’s likely to happen next, how do take action?

No successful organization works this way.

It’s impossible to imagine a well-functioning team of people where there’s a fundamental disagreement about the data.

Demand that those you trust and those you work with accept the ref’s calls, the validity of the x-ray and the reality of what’s actually happening. Anything less than that is a shortcut to chaos.

Technical skills, power and influence

When a new technology arrives, it’s often the nerds and the neophiliacs who embrace it.

People who see themselves as busy and important often dismiss the new medium or tool as a bit of a gimmick and then “go back to work.”

It’s only a few years later when the people who understand those tools are the ones calling the shots.

Because “the work” is now centered on that thing that folks hesitated to learn when they had the chance.

And so, it’s the web programmers who hold the keys to the future of the business, or the folks who live in mobile.

Or it’s the design strategists who thrive in Photoshop and UI thinking who determine what gets built or invested in…

There’s never a guarantee that the next technology is going to be the one that moves to the center of the conversation. But it’s certain that a new technology will. It always has.

Constructive dissatisfaction

It’s never been easier to find ways to be disappointed in our performance. You can compare your output, your income, your success rate to a billion people around the globe… many of whom are happy to exaggerate to make you even more disappointed.

It’s hardly worth your trouble.

The exception is the dissatisfaction that is based on a legitimate comparison, one that gives you insight on how to improve and motivates you to get better.

Get clear about the change you’re trying to make and, if it’s useful, compare yourself to others that are on the same path as you are.

If the response rate to your website is lower than your competitor’s, take a look at what they’re doing and learn from it.

If your time in the hundred-yard dash is behind that of the person to your left, analyze the video of their run, step by step, and figure out what you’re missing.

You can always find someone who is cuter, happier or richer than you. (Or appears to be). That’s pointless.

But if you can find some fuel to help you reach your goals, not their goals, have at it.


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adonis49

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