Derek Sivers

The Practice - by Seth Godin

The Practice - by Seth Godin

ISBN: 0593328973
Date read: 2021-01-15
How strongly I recommend it: 8/10
(See my list of 200+ books, for more.)

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Classic Seth Godin. If you liked his previous books, you’ll love this. The subtitle “Shipping Creative Work” sums it up well. Very encouraging and motivating.

my notes

Creativity is the result of desire to find a new truth, solve an old problem, or serve someone.

Process saves us from the poverty of our intentions.

Askıda ekmek: there is bread on the hook. It’s an ancient tradition in Turkey. When buying a loaf at the local bakery, you can choose to pay for an extra loaf and, after bagging your purchase, the owner will hang the second loaf on a hook on the wall. If a person in need comes by, he or she can ask if there’s anything on the hook.

Art is the work we do where there is no right answer - and yet the journey is worth the effort.

Art is what we call it when we’re able to create something new that changes someone. No change, no art.

You can’t always do much about how you feel, particularly when it’s about something important, but you can always control your actions.
Your work is too important to be left to how you feel today.

If you condition yourself to work without flow, it’s more likely to arrive.

The strategy of “seeking your calling” gives you a marvelous place to hide.

Only after we do the difficult work does it become our calling.
Only after we trust the process does it become our passion.
“Do what you love” is for amateurs.
Love what you do.

In this window of ten to thirteen years’ old, all of these kids decided they wanted to become musicians.
They developed the habit of identity.
When they looked in the mirror, they saw themselves as musicians, as artists, as people who had committed to a journey.

Focus on the practice alone.
Focus on the rhythm, on posture, on the magic of the physics of it.

The catch is the side effect of the practice itself.

Process saves us from the poverty of our intentions.

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Nostalgia for a future that hasn’t happened yet is a modern affliction.

The easiest way to go through life is to let life go through you.
Give in to the prevailing winds and go along to get along.
This requires very little effort because you’re not working with intent - at least not your own intent.
You’re getting by.
A sailboat goes slowest when it is going downwind. That’s because the sail acts as a parachute, meaning the boat can’t go any faster than the wind behind it.
The sailboat is optimized to go across the wind.

We make a difference in the world when we seek to make a difference.

Problems have solutions. That’s what makes them problems.
A problem without a solution isn’t a problem, it’s simply a situation.
Problems are usually solved by surprising, non-trivial alternatives.
If an obvious solution from an obvious source could have provided an answer, it would have happened already.

The word “peculiar” simply means specific.

If you spend all day hitting the ball back, you’ll never end up serving.
Responding or reacting to incoming asks becomes the narration of your days.

If your no becomes a habit, a way to hide out, you may end up cutting ties with the very people you set out to serve.
And if your no becomes too seductive, you can get comfortable there instead, never actually shipping your work, because shipping your work means that you’ll need to reenter the world with a yes.

To a drowning man, everyone else is a stepping-stone.

The more important the project we take on, the more difficult it is to find certainty that our work will succeed before we begin.

Any idea withheld is an idea taken away.
It’s selfish to hold back when there’s a chance you have something to offer.

Talent is something we’re born with: it’s in our DNA, a magical alignment of gifts.
But skill? Skill is earned. It’s learned and practiced and hard-won.
It’s insulting to call a professional talented. She’s skilled.
Skill is rarer than talent. Skill is earned.

The market pushes creators to give away their work.
Too often, we come to believe that giving it away, removing money from the interaction, is the most generous thing we can do.
But that’s not the case.
Money supports our commitment to the practice.
Money permits us to turn professional, to focus our energy and our time on the work, creating more impact and more connection, not less.
Money is how our society signifies enrollment.
The person who has paid for your scarce time and scarce output is more likely to value it, to share it, and to take it seriously.

Going from town to town and working with easy gigs was wasting their effort and hiding their art.
What they needed to do was stay in one town, earn fans, play again, earn fans, move to a better venue, and do it again.

Better clients demand better work.
Better clients want you to push the envelope, win awards, and challenge their expectations.
Better clients pay on time.
Better clients talk about you and your work.
But finding better clients isn’t easy, partly because we don’t trust ourselves enough to imagine that we deserve them.

How is it possible for three cowboys to herd a thousand cattle?
Easy. They don’t. They herd ten cattle, and those cattle influence fifty cattle and those cattle influence the rest.
That’s the way every single widespread movement/product/service has changed the world.
Find ten people who care enough about your work to enroll.

Everything weighs something, everything takes up space.
Nothing goes on a lunar module unless there’s a really good reason.

What’s the headline for in this magazine ad?
What’s the save button for on this word processor?
What’s the airport announcement about security alerts for?
What is the “letters to the editor” section of the newspaper for?
What is a large front lawn on a suburban McMansion for?
If you think hard about these questions, you might discover that a lot of what we build or encounter isn’t about what we think it is.

Instead of making paintings to please the skeptics, she made art for people who were enrolled in the path toward the new.

All of us get an endless supply of ideas, notions, and inklings.
Successful people, often without realizing it, ignore the ones that are less likely to “work,” and instead focus on the projects that are more likely to advance the mission.
Sometimes we call this good taste.
It’s possible to get better at this pre-filtering. By doing it out loud. By writing out the factors that you’re seeking, or even by explaining to someone else how your part of the world works.

Hey, little kid, why are you crying? What’s the tantrum for?
He has no idea. He’s a toddler. The toddler is authentic.
The hallmark of the unmindful is to react, to lash out, to spend time with no purpose or measure.

This is a practice. It has a purpose.
I desire to create change. The change is for someone specific.
How can I do it better? Can I persist long enough to do it again?
Repeat.

Inauthentic means effective, reasoned, intentional.
It means it’s not personal, it’s generous.

He screened his films for a paying audience.
Fifty cents, a dollar, it didn’t matter, as long as they paid something.
He discovered early on that paying audiences cared more and demanded more.
Again and again, his work was booed and met with derision.
Paying money gave you the right to boo.

It’s fine to experience regret when we abandon a sunk cost.
It’s a mistake to stick with one simply because we can’t bear the regret.

Write more.
Write about your audience, your craft, your challenges.
Write about the trade-offs, the industry, and your genre.
Write about your dreams and your fears.
Write about what’s funny and what’s not.
Write to clarify.
Write to challenge yourself.
Write on a regular schedule.
Writing puts you on the hook.

Desirable difficulty is actually required for us to upskill and move to another level.

Befriending your bad ideas is a useful way forward. They’re not your enemy. They are essential steps on the path to better.

Get a pencil. That’s what’s scarce. People who will draw up plans. People who will go first.
After that, you can easily get help from one of the people who are good at using sandpaper, now that you’ve done just about all of the scary bits.

Promise to ship, but don’t promise the result.

Shawn Coyne has written brilliantly about genre.
If we choose a genre, we’ve just made a series of promises.
If you tell us that this is a reggae record, we’re going to compare you to Bob Marley.
If you assert that you’re painting fine art, you’ve got a thousand years of artists to stand next to.
It’s so much easier to say, “It’s just me.” It’s simply what I felt like creating. Because then we’ll ignore you. And then you’re off the hook.

Don’t talk about your dreams with people who want to protect you from heartache.

Seek the smallest viable audience. Make it for someone, not everyone.

Build streaks. Do the work every single day.
Blog daily. Write daily. Ship daily. Show up daily.
Find your streak and maintain it.
Talk about your streaks to keep honest.

Culture is a conspiracy. It’s the voluntary engagement of humans in search of connection and safety.

People at higher levels of performance don’t spend more hours training.
Athletes at the highest level had just as many friends and just as normal a life as dedicated swimmers at lower levels.
There were two key differences between great competitors and good ones:
Skill:
The best swimmers swim differently than the ones who don’t perform as well.
They do their strokes differently; they do their turns differently.
These are learned and practiced skills.
Attitude:
The best swimmers bring a different attitude to their training.
They choose to find delight in the parts that other swimmers avoid.
This is their practice.

It’s not training hours or DNA that changes outcomes.
It’s our belief in possibility and the support of the culture around us.
Creators have a better attitude, because they’ve figured out how to trust the process and trust themselves to work with it.

When you’re surrounded by respected peers, it’s more likely you’ll do the work you set out to do.

Outsource many of the things you’re not very good at, so that you can simulate a level of sanity and professionalism to the outside world.
Choose the skill we’re going to assert to the outside world.
Even if it comes at the cost of neglecting some of the work you used to do that, in the end, was simply a distraction.

Teach people to make commitments, to overcome fear, to deal transparently, to initiate, and to plan a course of action.
Teach people to desire lifelong learning, to express themselves, and to innovate.

People around the world eat what they eat because of community standards and the way culture is inculcated into what they do.
Expectations matter a great deal.
When you have no real choice but to grow up doing something or eating something or singing something, then you do it.
Is culture able to teach us a process to make art?
Isn’t it possible for the culture to normalize goal setting and passion and curiosity and the ability to persuade?

The renowned screenwriter and showrunner, has seen more movies than you have.
His understanding of what’s come before gives him the platform and the standing to help figure out what’s going to come next.

The point is not to copy, but in fact to avoid copying.
Our best commercial work reminds people of what they’ve seen before.

This little corner of this little industry was the place he chose to make a difference.
The change we seek to make can feel small indeed, but it all ripples.