A Manifesto of Starting: Seth Godin's "Poke the Box" A Review

Reading Poke The BoxImage by Moriartys via Flickr
First, let me say that I like reading Seth Godin's books for three reasons:  1) They are full of awesome nuggets of motivation 2) He writes like Rob Bell

which looks something...

like this.
3) His book titles are just messed up.  "Poke the Box???"  Are you serious?

But you see, Seth Godin tries things.  He isn't the kind of guy that sits around and talks about the things that he's going to do when he has more time, money, wits, wherewithall, you name it.  There is, according to Godin, a difference between successful individuals and organizations and those that aren't: "The winners have turned initiative into a passion and a practice."

He lists some imperatives that you need if you are going to be successful or have a successful organization:
1.  Be aware of the market, of opportunities, of who you are
2.  Be educated so you can understand what's around you.
3.  Be connected so you can be trusted as you engage
4.  Be consistent so the system knows what to expect
5. Build an asset so you have something to sell
6.  Be productive so you can be well priced
But it's the seventh imperative that Godin claims takes the most courage to actually realize:  To have the guts, the heart and the passion "to ship."

For Godin, "shipping" means putting your ideas, product and even yourself (if it's yourself that you are selling)--out into the marketplace.
The willingness to start, to ship, to supply the way forward is one of the most difficult, yet rewarding things that we can do, according to Godin.  "Human nature is to need a map," he writes, "if you're brave enough to draw one, people will follow."

I rather like the way Godin thinks.  The problem is that most organizations are not nimble, and nimble is what Godin preaches.  "If you sing up for the initiative path," he asserts in one of his nuggets, "and continue on it when others fret about 'quality' and 'predictability' you will ultimately succeed."

My context is "church world," which Godin is not unfamiliar with, although he deals primarily with corporate settings.  I find that churches are even less nimble than almost every other organization.  Any innovation, change, transformation is met with unbelievable resistance in the church setting.  For some odd reason, even people who are innovative in every aspect of their life find it difficult to embrace innovation in their place of worship.  The kind of anxiety that exists in the face of change, transformation and innovation within churches is very nearly palpable at times.  Godin refers to this kind of anxiety "as experiencing failure in advance."

I have found Godin's work to be particularly helpful to me as, in my role as pastor, I try to steer the ship, so to speak, of my church into often uncharted waters.  Here are a few more of the nuggets in "Poke the Box"

"The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing."

"The old system can't work without the new.  And the new system depends on unpredictable human beings adding unscheduled insights."

"Intellectual integrity goes beyond being clever---it requires that you put your ideas into the world."

"When was the last time you set out to be promiscuous in your failures?"

"Forward motion is a defensible business asset."

And there are others.   I highly recommend reading Seth Godin's Poke the Box.  You can also visit The Domino Project at www.DominoProject.com to get free e-books, downloads, and articles that will get sent to your Kindle.  The project is another one of Godin's attempts at shipping.  Maybe it will inspire you to do the same. 


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