The Ripples

by-gabe-rodriguez

Every decision we make changes things. The people we befriend, the examples we set, the problems we solve…

Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we get to glimpse those ripples as we stand at the crossroads. Instead of merely addressing the urgency of now, we can take a moment to focus on how a quiet insight, overlooked volunteer work or a particularly welcome helping hand moves so many people forward. For generations.

How did you get to where you are? Who is going to go even further because of you?

Thank you for passing it forward.

From Seth Godin whose words you should read.

“…imagine the generous outcomes…”

Photo Thanks to Evan Wise

Photo Thanks to Evan Wise

I’ll be away from writing original content for a couple weeks. We welcomed our new son the other day, and in lieu of posts, I’ll offer a quote of the day. To anticipate that, here is a post by Seth Godin whose good work you can find here.

Depth of field

Focus is a choice.

The runner who is concentrating on how much his left toe hurts will be left in the dust by the runner who is focusing on winning.

Even if the winner’s toe hurts just as much.

Hurt, of course, is a matter of perception. Most of what we think about is.

We have a choice about where to aim the lens of our attention. We can relive past injustices, settle old grudges and nurse festering sores. We can imagine failure, build up its potential for destruction, calculate its odds. Or, we can imagine the generous outcomes we’re working on, feel gratitude for those that got us here and revel in the possibilities of what’s next.

The focus that comes automatically, our instinctual or cultural choice, that focus isn’t the only one that’s available. Of course it’s difficult to change it, which is why so few people manage to do so. But there’s no work that pays off better in the long run.

Your story is your story. But you don’t have to keep reminding yourself of your story, not if it doesn’t help you change it or the work you’re doing.

People Who Insist You Avoid Shortcuts

Photo Thanks to Leroy and Lifepix

Photo Thanks to Leroy and Lifepix

Surround yourself with people who insist you avoid the shortcut.

When I read Seth Godin’s words in that recent post, it made me take a minute to express my gratitude for people who forbid me–with their lives, with their ways of being, with their manner–to take short cuts.

I had to write one of them. I did something similar last week on a facebook wall. I’ll do something like that in a month when I see a mentor for his birthday. I’ll do thanksgiving around my own birthday too.

I’m thankful that not only is Seth Godin great for quality, pointed writing wisdom, but he also helps me notice the people pulling it off. He helps me bring to mind people who are relentless in focusing their energies on building something good.

Because I work in ministry, my focus is usually on people who build other people. Those are my heroes, mentors, friends, and colleagues. I spend myself with those who contribute. I befriend them.

I befriend people who give. I’m a giver. I build givers. I’m a teacher. I collect teachers around me. Because those folks don’t take shortcuts. Because those folks don’t let me take shortcuts.

They take very long views. Dangerously long views. They believe in the worst of students. They slow down when someone needs attention. They breath deeply when everyone’s afraid.

Those are the folks who teach me to “take my time” and attend to what’s in front of me with grace. They are the people in my spiritual autobiography, in my life narrative, in my regularly changing life review when I’m on the MICU and being grateful for the number of witnesses who people and participate in this life that I live.

They’re the ones around the interior kitchen table of my heart. They’re the people I thought of when I read Seth’s brief reminder. I’m thanking them all as much as I can because they’re lovely.

Seth Godin on Credibility

Thanks to Luis Llerena

Thanks to Luis Llerena

You believe you have a great idea, a hit record, a press release worth running, a company worth funding. You know that the customer should use your limited-offer discount code, that the sponsor should run an ad, that the admissions office should let you in. You know that the fast-growing company should hire you, and you’re ready to throw your (excellent) resume over the transom.

This is insufficient.

Your belief, even your proof, is insufficient for you to get the attention, the trust and the action you seek.

When everyone has access, no one does. The people you most want to reach are likely to be the very people that are the most difficult to reach.

Attention is not yours to take whenever you need it. And trust is not something you can insist on.

You can earn trust, just as you can earn attention. Not with everyone, but with the people that you need, the people who need you.

This is the essence of permission marketing.

When I began in the book industry thirty years ago, if you had a stamp, you had everything you needed to get a book proposal in front of an editor. You could send as many proposals as you liked, to as many editors as you liked. All you needed to do was mail them.

In my first year, after my first book came out, I was totally unsuccessful. Not one editor invested in one of the thirty books I was busy creating.

It wasn’t that the books were lousy. It was me. I was lousy. I had no credibility. I didn’t speak the right language, in the right way. Didn’t have the credibility to be believed, and hadn’t earned the attention of the people I was attempting to work with.

Email and other poking methods have made it easy to spew and spray and cold call large numbers of people, but the very ease of this behavior has also made it even less likely to work. The economics of attention scarcity are obvious, and you might not like it, but it’s true.

The bad news is that you are not entitled to attention and trust. It is not allocated on the basis of some sort of clearly defined scale of worthiness.

The good news is that you can earn it. You can invest in the community, you can patiently lead and contribute and demonstrate that the attention you are asking be spent on you is worthwhile.

But, no matter how urgent your emergency is, you’re unlikely to be able to merely take the attention you want.

 

Read Seth’s blog. Daily.

Seth Godin and “your competitive advantage”

Seth Godin is a careful observer, critical thinker, and creative mastermind.  You should visit his site, learn about him, and draw, in your own way, from his genius.  Here is a post he put up the other week.  You can find Seth’s blog here.

Are you going to succeed because you return emails a few minutes faster, tweet a bit more often and stay at work an hour longer than anyone else?

I think that’s unlikely. When you push to turn intellectual work into factory work (which means more showing up and more following instructions) you’re racing to the bottom.

It seems to me that you will succeed because you confronted and overcame anxiety and the lizard brain better than anyone else. Perhaps because you overcame inertia and actually got significantly better at your craft, even when it was uncomfortable because you were risking failure. When you increase your discernment, maximize your awareness of the available options and then go ahead and ship work that scares others… that’s when you succeed.

More time on the problem isn’t the way. More guts is. When you expose yourself to the opportunities that scare you, you create something scarce, something others won’t do.