It's Time to be Brave

A pass at another Seth Godin riff on what we’re investing into our careers.[1]

If I’m going to invest more into my career (or really any pursuit I want to grow in), it’s worth pausing to figure out what kind of investment that should be. What will give me the best return? What will be sustainable for long enough to have measurable impact?

The default answer has almost always been time. And that answer is certainly supported by theories like the 10,000 hours required for mastery as presented in Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers’. Beyond that though, is that really the point for differentiation in a world increasingly crowded with options? Mastery at a given skillset seems increasingly like the entry fee. From there, it would seem that we need something more.

Godin argues that the real option is to “take the intellectual risks and do the emotional labor you’re capable of.” It’s far easier to hide and take the “that’s not my job” route. In fact, that’s what the vast majority of the crowd is currently doing. And we have the results to show for it. The cumulative effects of that choice are terrifying. If we continue to embrace that attitude, our companies and jobs go away. Other people (who are willing to take those risks) will get those opportunities while we fade further into irrelevance.

The frustrating part is that we’re capable of so much more. We could make the choice to actually take those risks, to step out to make a difference. Ironically, those risks are smaller than they seem and smaller still in comparison to the risk of doing nothing and maintaining the status quo. Even small (consistent) steps in this direction make a big difference. Big enough to start creating momentum that can affect large scale change.

And still it comes down to today and today’s choices. Am I willing to do more than talk about this? Am I willing to take the risks and lead? It’s a choice I struggle with nearly every day. But for today, I’m choosing to push on regardless of feeling like I’m headed upstream.

  1. Yes, this is turning into more of a theme here than I expected. But the bottom line is that he writes thought provoking things, and writing helps me process those ideas (and hopefully turn them into action).  ↩