Book notes
The Practice

The Practice by Seth Godin

Read in December 2020

"The practice requires you to seek out experience of uncertainty to place yourself in a room where you will create discomfort."

Post-industrialist teachings of Seth are here to awaken us one more time.

Part 1: Trust Yourself

The industrial system brainwashed us demands that we do what we've been told to follow, then focus on the outcomes. Keep walking on the way of consumption and obedience. It's all about guaranteed productivity in exchange of soul-consuming labor.

The new practice is about following your own path defined by resilience and generosity.

It's better to follow your own path, however imperfectly, than to follow someone elses perfectly.

– Bharagavad-Gita

The people who found their voice and made something share a common value: trusting themselves. The original title of the book was Trust Yourself, then it changes as The Practice.

"Askida ekmek" reference

When you choose to produce creative work, you are solving a problem. The solution is not just for you, but for those who will encounter with what you face.

The process beings with starting – not finishing, throwing – not catching, improving – not being perfect.

There's no correct answer, the real deal is the process. It's the journey that worts the effort.

Art is what we call it when we're able to create something new that changes someone.

Convincing yourself

If we believe that it's not our turn, that we're not talented enough, we'll do whatever we can do to convince ourselves. Those stories would originate from our past insecurities.

We become what we do. If you want to change the story, change your actions to rework the narrative.

The Flow

Conditioning ourselves to start working without the flow would make it more likely to arrive.

Flow is a symptom of the work, not the cause of it.

World's worst boss

Is yourself! Trust, and raise the bar over time. Give yourself space on failures.

You would never work for a boss that would treat you as you treat yourself.

The impostor syndrome is real

It shows what you're healthy. Most of our daily actions –thus, achievements– our in environments with multiple unknowns. It can be people, market, tech, anything that's not utterly predictable.

Confidence on outcome would often disappoint. Trust on the process and accepting the outcome is what drives us forward.

Every professional athlete is confident, but nobody wins every game.

Embrace the imposter syndrome instead of trying to make it disappear.

Who you are (and what you do)

If you want to be someone, then just start doing whatever they do.

Once you being, then you are.

Acting is how we acquire the identity.

Trust ≠ Self-Confidence

Trust is the commitment to the practice. It's achieved by consistency, making the change happen, going through hard things.

Engaging and trusting in the practice is the best we can do for ourselves.

Part 2: Generous

Sounding like everyone is a common way to avoid criticism. But you're allowed to sound like you. And you should sound like you. Everyone else is taken.

A scarce mindset creates more scarcity. Isolating ourselves from the circle of people who would appreciate our work harms the self-trust and creativity. Creativity is contagious. Go for the abundance.

If you are using outcomes that are out of your control as fuel of your work, it's inevitable that you will burn out. It's not a fuel you can replenish, nor burns without residue.

Who is it for?

Your work has two audiences.

  • Only you. It's not professional work, there's no one to serve.
  • Shipping for someone. Requires to develop empathy through generosity.

Pursuing either is fine, both is a recipe for unhappiness because you're insisting other people to see what you see.

Three definitions of quality

  1. Meets the spec, has strict tolerances.
  2. Luxury. The cost of material used, the sum of ingredients that brings us status.
  3. Creative magic!? Hard to explain without experiencing it.

How often do you recommend a competitor?

Authors, for example, know abundance in their field would fuel their creative work. They also embrace the idea that their work is not for everyone, and there are alternatives. The ability to suggest an alternative is a sign of generosity.

Part 3: The Professional

The time we spend worrying is actually time we're spending trying to control something that is not in our control.

Time invested in something that is within our control is called work. That's where our most productive focus lies.

There's no mule, ghost or genie. The practice is choice + skill + attitude. We can learn it and do it again.

We don't ship the work because we're creative. We're creative because we ship the work.

You manage to find an hour every day to watch Netflix, eat, and bathe. Show us your hour spent on the practice. You already know what to do to be creative. You've already done it before, at least once. The practice asks you to commit to a process to repeat what you've done.

Generous doesn't mean free

Money supports our commitment to the practice, and it's how our society signifies enrollment.

The person who paid for your scarce time and output is more likely to value, share, and take it seriously.

Better clients demand better work

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.

You earn better clients by becoming the sort of professional that better clients want. It’s lonely and difficult work. It’s juggling—throw and throw, and one day, the catching will take care of itself.