Why Seth Godin Told Me I Will Never Succeed

In December 2011 I had the great opportunity to attend Seth Godin’s Medicine Ball event. If you know anything about Seth you know it was a mind-blowing event that educated, inspired and motivated. At the same time it was three days of intense focus and realization about the realities of building, shipping and overcoming excuses.

During the second day I posed a question to Seth that was one of the many important lessons I learned and was reminded of over the course of those three days.

It went something like this:

  • Me: “Seth, what do you do when you have a lot of different things you want to do or build and lots of big goals and dreams, how do you choose which one to really focus on? Is there some kind of process you use to decide?”
  • Seth: “Well, if I was to put 6 of those things, one on each side of a standard die and roll it, would you be willing to drop everything else and just work on that one thing that came up?”
  • Me (in my head): shit… point taken.
  • Awkwardly long silence from the crowd so the lesson sank in.
  • Seth: “Until you’re willing to drop everything else you’ll never make the kind of dent in that one thing that’s as big as if you focused on it relentlessly.”

Simple, honest and tested feedback is always the best. It’s also exactly what someone needs when they’re asking a question.

He also goes on to riff on this type of question in the audio to his most recent event, the Startup School, where in one of the recorded portions (also as an answer to someone’s question) he talks about the fact that in order to know which option is going to turn out the most successful you just have to start going down the path of at least one option.

The moral of both stories: getting started on doing something is better than getting hung up and doing nothing.

Matt Kane

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