Honka! Honka!

Godin’s writing frequently—it might be fair to say always—attempts to inspire. But from some quarters he is criticized for being too trite; that he speaks in platitudes.

No need to be part of the circus. If you can find a problem and solve it, you can skip the clown car.

~ Seth Godin from, https://seths.blog/2023/11/turtleneck-confusion/

Two points: First, the problem with platitudes lies with the listener; if I’ve heard it so often, that it feels like a platitude, then why have I still not yet embodied the lesson? Second, Godin doesn’t get enough credit for his efforts to teach professionalism; and professionalism has nothing to do with getting paid (c.f. Steven Pressfield.)


Connecting and respecting

The idea of narrowing the number of people we’re intending to serve with our creative efforts is freeing. Kevin Kelly‘s 1000 True Fans is liberating in the sense that it frees us from having to imagine: How am I supposed to create something that excites and engages with millions of people. But even “just” those 1,000 fans is a daunting group to imagine.

It turns out that finding, connecting and respecting a small group of supporters and customers always outperforms the hustle for more. And that if you can create a remarkable story that’s worth spreading, it’ll spread. Not because you need it to, but because your customers do.

~ Seth Godin from, https://seths.blog/2023/11/the-reluctant-spammer/

Unfortunately, I’ve not yet found my people. Yes, certainly, people tell me they love what I create—but I’ve not yet found something that goes beyond being interesting to people. I’ve not yet found something that solves a problem for them… Excites them to action… Enables them to create something of their own…


Intentional action

Elsewhere I’ve talked about the Karpman drama triangle. About learning it’s not even actually fun to be the hero who rushes in. Rushing—doing something quickly sacrificing doing it correctly—is never the right choice.

The most exciting thing about professional project management is that it trades away excitement for systems thinking and intentional action. We make heroes out of people who show up with the last-minute save, but the real work is in not needing the last minute.

~ Seth Godin from, https://seths.blog/2023/06/project-management/

Of course, we can delete the word “professional” from the above and it points to something we might choose to work on: If I’m late… If I’m rushing… If I’m “too busy”… Where exactly does that come from? Once I started look at my life this way, and started asking such questions, it didn’t take long to realize the problem was within myself. We choose to take on too many things. We choose to stretch for more connections, activities and things. The details differ. But it’s the same for each of us.


Knowing when to stick and when to walk away

Among the vast options every day, how does one choose well? Should I observe guardrails and steer down the center of the easy path? If I can see guardrails which are clearly “that would be, or create, a true problem” and “that would be a quagmire of ongoing struggle”, why would I ever want to not steer down the middle of that path?

And finally, some problems get better if we’re willing to talk about them. Some situations, on the other hand, simply get worse when we focus our energy and community on them.

~ Seth Godin from, https://seths.blog/2023/11/working-with-problems/

Any time I choose to walk away, I can also choose to widen my perspective. From a wider perspective, any time I walk away is simply the next step in my path.



At the kickoff of an unusually long issue of 7 for Sunday, I’ll try to keep this first part short, because (as I often say, because I really do mean it) I appreciate your time and attention, and I don’t take it for granted.

Civility fades in the face of entitlement.

~ Seth Godin from, https://seths.blog/2023/10/no-thank-you/

Godin’s point—that sometimes we choose to assert that something was ours to take, when in fact someone was kind enough to give a gift—really landed for me. I’m reminded of a recently-run-here quote from Kevin Kelly about the growth opportunities pointed to by irritation with others.



Vulnerable is the only way we can feel when we truly share the art we’ve made. When we share it, when we connect, we have shifted the power and made ourselves naked in front of the person we’ve given the gift of our art to. We have no excuses, no manual to point to, no standard operating procedures to protect us. And that is part of our gift.

~ Seth Godin


Understanding and compassion

Compassion. The best description (it’s right at the top) and discussion (continues for ~6,000 words) I’ve found is David Gross’s Notes on Compassion.

Empathy, a cycle of skills improvement, developing new attitudes and showing up in service often accompanies the careers of people who get from here to there.

Ambition is insufficient.

~ Seth Godin from, https://seths.blog/2023/07/goals-and-expectations/

There’s a reason the word “understanding” is before “compassion” in my mission. We each have limited resources, and we must be intentional (perhaps not entirely intentional, but certainly not entirely unintentional) with how we act based on compassion. I must first begin to understand myself. Then begin to understand the world, and that includes beginning to understand others.



Effort isn’t the point, impact is. If you solve the problem in three seconds but have the guts to share it with me, it’s still art. And if you move ten thousand pounds of granite but the result doesn’t connect with me, I’m sorry for your calluses, but you haven’t made art, at least not art for me.

~ Seth Godin



If you have decided that you can’t do art until you quiet the voice of resistance, you will never do art. Art is the act of doing work that matters while dancing with the voice in your head that screams for you to stop. We can befriend the lizard, lull it into stupor, or merely face it down, but it’s there, always. As soon as you embrace the lizard (not merely tolerate it but engage it as a partner in your art), then you are free.

~ Seth Godin


What we see

…we see what we believe, not the other way around. Rarely do we see the world as it is. Most of the time we are so busy compartmentalizing, judging, and ignoring what we can’t abide that we see almost nothing. We don’t see opportunities. We fail to see pain. And most of all, we refuse to see the danger in doing nothing. If you can’t see, you will never make art successfully.

~ Seth Godin


The resistance

When the resistance shows up, I know that I’m winning. Not my fight against it, but my fight to make art. […] The resistance is a symptom that you’re on the right track. The resistance is not something to be avoided; it’s something to seek out.

~ Seth Godin



While you can still avoid shame by hiding, you won’t find happiness or even stability that way. The thing is, shame is a choice. It’s worth repeating: Shame can’t be forced on you; it must be accepted. The artist, then, combines courage with a fierce willingness to refuse to accept shame. Blame, sure. Shame, never. Where is the shame in using our best intent to make art for those we care about?

~ Seth Godin


The choice

It’s a choice. The choice between being the linchpin (the one people can’t live without) and the cog (who does what she’s told). The choice between doing art (and forging your own path, on your own terms, and owning what happens) and merely doing your job (which pushes all the power and all the responsibility to someone else).

The good news is that it’s your choice, no one else’s.

~ Seth Godin


Creating connection

The alternative is an interaction that creates a connection instead of destroying it. Where is the eye contact? Where is the dignity that comes from recognizing another?

When we humanize the person at the other end of the counter or the phone or the Internet, we grant them something precious—personhood. When we treat the people around us with dignity, we create an entirely different platform for the words we utter and the plans we make.

~ Seth Godin



Heroism is more fun but less reliable than good planning.

~ Seth Godin from, https://seths.blog/2023/03/simple-techniques-for-complex-projects/

It’s a good point.

And it took me a long time to realize that heroism isn’t even fun. Long ago I used to rush in, sometimes literally, and save the day. I’ve played the theme song from Mission: Impossible while rushing to fix computers in the middle of the night. One time, although I wasn’t rushing but was en route to fix things, I was nearly killed in a car crash, in the middle of the night, on a highway that was deserted, until I was hit from behind, at extreme speed, by two people who were racing side-by-side. I think I just channeled Proust. I digress. Where was I?

It took me a long time to realize that heroism isn’t even fun. Years later, I was reading M. B. Stanier‘s The Coaching Habit (which I recommend, but I more highly recommend his, The Advice Trap) where I found his mention of the “Karpman Drama Triangle”. I’m not even sure if that’s a real thing; It should be a real thing and I’m not going to spoil it by actually looking. Karpman, apparently, identifies the “Rescuer” as one of the three types of people in his dramatic triangle. (When I first read that I thought, “Oh my gawd, I used to always be that person. I’m so glad I’ve totally outgrown that,” while chuckling nervously.) The Rescuer’s core belief is, “Don’t fight, don’t worry, let me jump in and take it on and fix it.” Crap. I’m pretty sure I still have this problem.


Forward is the best option

Because forward is the best option. Let’s go with one that makes the most sense–and if you don’t have a better plan, you should be responsible enough to back the one that’s most likely to work, even, especially, if you don’t like it.

~ Seth Godin from, https://seths.blog/2023/02/the-obligation-of-none-of-the-above/

For me, this “rhythms” with things like “having skin in the game” and with Theodore Roosevelt’s famous idea of “the man in the arena“. But I like Godin’s turn of phrasing better.

Skin-in-the-game and man-in-the-arena feel focused on requiring one to earn the right to participate in guiding the direction of things (a project, a company, a nation, the human race.) While Godin’s—in my opinion—suggests that the value of your contribution should be judged by how it moves things forward (including contributing to the discussion of what does “forward” mean.)



The world is filled with overconfident people. Overconfidence leads to malpractice, to fraud, and to broken promises. Overconfidence is arrogance. You don’t want an overconfident surgeon or even an overconfident bus driver. By definition, overconfidence leads to risky behavior and inadequate preparation. But the practice requires us to do our work without becoming attached to the outcome. It’s not overconfidence, it’s a practice of experiments that respect the pitfalls of hubris.

~ Seth Godin