We can trust the process, but we can’t be sure of the outcome

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You don’t need to be sure

Trust is a form of belief. It doesn’t require proof, in fact, if there’s proof, there’s no reason for it.

And one form of proof is the make-believe attitude of certainty. The hubris of over-confidence. The statement, through word or action, that there’s no doubt in our minds that it’s going to be precisely the way we said it would.

We see this in sports all the time. Where an athlete guarantees an outcome. Of course, in most finite games, one side is going to lose, so guarantees are fairly flimsy.

What’s the alternative?

We don’t have to be sure. We can simply trust ourselves. We can trust the practice. We can acknowledge that future outcomes are uncertain, but remind ourselves that our process is all we’ve got. …

Because you’ll run out of it when you need it most

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Everything is going to be exactly as it turns out

“Reassurance is futile” are the three trickiest words in my new book. That’s because we don’t want it to be true. Reassurance is warm, lovely and yes, reassuring. How can it be futile?

And how dare I act as though I want it to be futile?

Reassurance is the human act of telling someone else that everything is going to turn out fine. Exactly as they hoped. That your friend’s efforts will pay off and their dreams will be realized.

The phone rings and it’s Spike Lee — he loves your script, and he wants you to know your movie is going to be a hit. …

Because perfect is impossible and perfectionism is about hiding.

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Don’t ship junk. Of course not. But don’t hide, either.

The thing about perfect is that there’s always more one zero, one more minor defect, one more thing to look out for.

The 2019 Lexus SC is one of the highest-quality cars ever measured. And yet, if examined with an electron microscope, every single part has some sort of defect. Every part could be improved in some way.

No one wants junk. Don’t design it, don’t ship it. But there’s a huge gap between junk and perfect, and if you insist on perfect, you’ll never ship.

With our understandable aversion to junk combined with the “get an A” mindset of organized school, we’ve created a great place to hide. We announce that we’re seeking perfect, knowing that it’s unattainable, and now we can relax into the limbo of not shipping. …

A good process doesn’t guarantee an outcome, but it always works better than the alternative

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Decide once, persist often

We are not entitled.

We’re not entitled to an audience, to applause or to make a living. The work we most want to do, the thing that pushes us to be show up — it might not resonate with the audience we bring it to.

There’s no guarantee, none at all.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t show up. The lack of a guarantee is precisely why the work is worth doing, because it’s the guarantee that we’ve been brainwashed to require, and without it, few people have the guts enough to show up anyway.

Show up anyway.

When we commit to a practice, we don’t have to wonder if we’re in the mood, if it’s the right moment, if we have a headache or momentum or the muse by our side. We already made those decisions. …

You don’t need a credential to create useful work

Woman doing carpentry work.
Woman doing carpentry work.
Photo: Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images

There are many instances where a credential — like a certificate, a license, or a degree — is essential. Nobody wants a knee surgeon who learned the craft by watching YouTube videos. But you don’t need a permit to speak up, to solve an interesting problem, or to lead. You don’t need a degree to write a lyric, or take responsibility, either.

You don’t need “expertise” to create useful work.

The modern credentialing system was designed to maintain the consistency of our industrial output. But over time, that system has expanded to create a roadblock. …

And that’s the good news.

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A simple word choice either puts us on the hook or gives us a place to hide

It’s good news because talent is immutable. Talent might be wasted, but it’s impossible to acquire. Because talent is something we’re born with. It’s hardwired into us.

Skill, on the other hand, can be learned.

And learning requires time and effort, both of which are available to each of us.

Unfortunately, learning also requires that we dance with fear and with incompetence. Because we can feel fine today, but as we learn something, we realize something important. …

It’s a skill

You can learn it. You can get better at it. And you can discover ways to share your insights with others.

I’m 7,500 posts into my blog, 20 books into my career as a bestselling author and who knows how many loaves of bread, batches of dal and poorly-pulled shots of espresso into my adventures in the kitchen.

When Medium asked me to try out a series of weekly posts about creativity to tie in with my new book, I was excited to take the leap.

The skill and the leap go together.

If you wait until you have the skill, if you wait until you’re certain it’s going to work, it’s very unlikely you’ll ever take that leap. …

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Tom Thompson was part of the Group of 7, an influential circle of painters working in Canada about a hundred years ago. Their art didn’t fit in, but it did change things.

Not a disturbance, a racket or a commotion, but a ruckus.

The status quo is resilient and long-lasting. That’s why it’s the status quo. It sticks around precisely because it’s good at sticking around.

And sometimes that’s a very good thing. We need a firm foundation and the stability it brings in order to make plans, build for the long haul and live with some measure of confidence that tomorrow will be at least a bit like today.

But too often, the status quo gets stuck. …

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It’s up to you.

If leadership is a series of choices over the days and years, a single moment won’t make or break you. Unless you allow it.

In the aftermath of this crisis: Will I give in to the fear that may arise…or will I step up and lead others into a better future? Today or six months from now, it’s up to me. It’s up to each of us.

In March, we witnessed a group of leaders who demonstrated extraordinary leadership during this time of global turbulence.

During a four week sprint in Rising Talent, a private session of altMBA, emerging leaders at Fortune 500 companies had the opportunity to build essential leadership skills. Using an innovative new learning method, they showed up after work and engaged in deep, digital immersion — students led peer-to-peer discussions and practiced empathy, critical thinking, decision-making, and leadership at a whole new level. …

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What’s everyone who is happier than me doing?

The typical commuter now spends the entire train ride on a phone, swiping and watching, watching and swiping. Watching the polished perfect lives, cute outfits and most of all, incredible experiences. All had by someone else.

It’s easy to become a spectator. To get stuck behind the glass, imagining just how much fun you might be having.

Modern industrial life is a collision between two poles, and we even have a Latin phrase for each of them, so they must be important:

Seize the day (carpe diem)


Buyer beware (caveat emptor)

We’re reminded of our insufficiency and our mortality every day. We’re pushed to buy more, engage more and avoid missing out. Entire billion dollar businesses are built around FOMO. …


Seth Godin

Founder of altMBA and Akimbo. Daily blogger, teacher, speaker, 20 bestsellers as well...

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