I heard a great quote from Seth Godin the other day, he said “Don’t seek reassurance. Don’t look for a map — make one.”
It’s easy to recall moments in my life, big transitional phases of self-exploration and change, that somehow got hung-up or let loose by the input/perspective of others. Their words were either a good thing that helped me and propelled me forward, or a not-so-good thing that made me withdraw, delete, reevalutate and play small. I’m at a point in my life where I’m reaching another big crossroad. I’m seeing that the old ways of doing things aren’t helpful (they only served the purpose of their time.) I’m living in a new time, a new day. I am now different. And as a result, I have to push boundaries; both in myself and in the world. I’m not looking to play safe or match the status quo. I’m interested in what is possible, even if it seems unorthodox and off-the-beaten path. Even if it seems silly or abstract, unconventional or utopian.
When I was in Berlin (this was in 2005), I bought a postcard at a museum. It was made of very thin wood, and it had a silk-screened image of two children playing outside. It was very plain and simple, the only color was black. Across the top of the card it read: “LIFE IS A GAME.” I often clear out my personal things (an ongoing purging and refining), but I held on to this card to remind me not to take life so seriously. I don’t think the essence of playing games is to win or play safe (living each day as a quest for comfort or security.) I’m also certain that the point is not to pretend or act like a winner, or even strategically present the facade and flaunt the idea that you live amongst the winners (when in actuality you are suffering from and struggling with the same issues as the losers.) Yet it seems like that is the way most people play the game of life. For me I see the purpose of games as a way to enjoy the moment, risk a little, feel free and explore. And if you have others that want to play with you, even better. You get to enjoy the moment with them, risk a little together, laugh and have fun. If life is indeed a game, that’s the game I prefer to play. I rather play from the perspective of curiosity and exploration, enjoying the moment, feeling free to gamble.
I felt conflicted over the past few weeks. I felt pulled in different directions, mostly because I wanted to make other people happy, but also because I was feeling afraid to risk and dig deep. I decided to play a sh*tload of Seth Godin videos to pull myself out of my funk or fog. It worked. I feel better again. I feel like I can march forward. Confidently. Without the approval other others. Without a map. Without a GPS or any reassurance.
Below are the Seth Godin quotes that peaked my interest and rekindled my enthusiasm for a courageous life.
“Remarkable visions and genuine insights are always met with resistance. And when you start to make progress, your efforts are met with even more resistance. Products, services, career paths – whatever it is, the forces for mediocrity will align to stop you, forgiving no errors and never backing down until it’s over. If it were any other way, it would be easy. And if it were any other way, everyone would do it and your work would ultimately be devalued. The yin and yang are clear: without people pushing against your quest to do something worth talking about, it’s unlikely to be worth the journey. Persist.”
“Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does. Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.”
“It’s what we wrestle with every single day. The intersection of comfort, danger, and safety. The balancing act between vulnerability and shame. The opportunity (or the risk) to do art. The willingness to take responsibility for caring enough to make a difference and to have a point of view.”
“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.”
“The only thing that makes people and organizations great is their willingness to be not great along the way. The desire to fail on the way to reaching a bigger goal is the untold secret of success.”
“The road to comfort is crowded and it rarely gets you there. Ironically, it’s those who seek out discomfort that are able to make a difference and find their footing.”
“Seizing new ground, making connections between people or ideas, working without a map—these are works of art, and if you do them, you are an artist, regardless of whether you wear a smock, use a computer, or work with others all day long.”
“Sometimes, we’re so focused on being consistent that we also lower the bar on amazing.”
“What matters, what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human.”
“The best way to be missed when you’re gone — is to stand for something when you’re here.”
“Every day I meet people who have so much to give but have been bullied enough or frightened enough to hold it back. It’s time to stop complying with the system and draw your own map. You have brilliance in you, your contribution is essential, and the art you create is precious. Only you can do it, and you must.”
“You have everything you need to build something far bigger than yourself.”
“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”
“The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there.”