August 9, 2017

4 Minute Read

You Can't Win at Juggling: A Lesson in Perspective

There is no winning. Just progress. Don’t be afraid to fail, but eager to begin.

Some games gauge success on the ability and/or quality of others. Many do not. Some games… or disciplines… are subjective. There is no winning or losing. They’re judged solely on quality and what you perceive to be good. Measured only on how accurate or successful in comparison to previous exposures or iterations.

The magnitude of this perception directly dependent on the standards held by the preceptor. Or audience. Or performer.

Inspiration from Seth Godin

I recently attended a speech by Seth Godin. An inspiring speech as you’d imagine. One that digs at you for a bit but reassures you, like you’re mother or father would, that you’re doing things right. One that gets you thinking. Ultimately, though, leads back to what you’ve been thinking all along. Do great shit. Believe in it so much that others have no choice but to do the same.

Do things that people hate. Because when people are passionate enough to hate those things, surely many more will love it.

Easy to imagine coming from the mouth and mind of a marketing icon. Seth Godin. I had the opportunity to get one of his books signed while at the conference. Stood in a mildly long line. Thought the whole time while making startup talk with the guy next to me, “What could I say to be memorable?”

"Props to your barber"

"Can regular old black & white cows be special too?"

"I don't follow you on Twitter, either."

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As I moved closer to the front of the line, I came to the realization everyone before and after me would have been pondering the same idea. Seth was likely riddled the entire night by odd-ass comments of people trying to be memorable. People trying to stick out. Trying to quickly dye their hair bright orange or drop some proverbial, hammered tattoo on their face so Seth Godin would remember them.

Any and all of the above would fail.

It wasn’t about impressing him. Or sticking out. It was about making change in our everyday lives. About believing in something and not giving up on that thing. Starting somewhere and not being afraid to fail. Taking responsibility for what we… or I… or everyone… knows is right.

In a world where corporate structure and leadership rules what you can, can’t, should, shouldn’t, are or not expected to do… it was about doing it. Because you believe in it.. Because there is no winning. Just progress. Don’t be afraid to fail, but eager to begin.

Put a plan in place for your thing and start. Don’t express it by focussing on a large, dramatic end result, though. Doing so will only overwhelm your audience. Instead, work diligently to make progress. People are afraid to fail when the task seems large but unafraid to take credit when progress is made. Just start and share your wins as they’re made.

Juggling is not baseball.

Not soccer nor football.

It’s not an SAT score or a DMV licensing test.

Juggling is something in which you can start. Something you can make progress with. If you don’t start juggling, you’ll never make progress. If you never make progress you’ll never be the best juggler you can be.

If you’re never the best juggler you can be, you’ll never be memorable.

I reached the front of the line, extended my hand for a firm handshake and said, “It’s my turn.” Seth smiled as he shook my hand, asked my name and quickly jotted “Go” on the inside cover of the book.

seth godin signature


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