As I was soaking it up as fast as I could, the thought I had to keep pushing to the back of my mind was "How can I get a copy of this into every one of my clients' and colleagues' hands as fast as possible?"
On the surface the book is about how to become a linchpin – “…an individual who can walk into chaos and create order, someone who can invent, connect, create, and make things happen.”
Judging the book by its cover, I expected a straightforward approach to becoming a linchpin that would detail ways to hold my organization together. Imagine my surprise as I got into the book to discover at least three highly-personalized gifts inside the pragmatic package.
Seeing myself as an artist
- Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient.
- If art is a human connection that causes someone to change his mind, then you are an artist.
- The easier it is to quantify [what you do], the less it’s worth.
I like the surprises of art – when we show up with curiosity and openness and respect we can create something that’s never been made before, and that serves us both better than we can imagine.
Being a recovering engineer I often say the hard stuff is fairly easy, and the soft stuff is fairly hard. What’s quantifiable and easy-to-see is the surface – the hard-to-master human connections are what really add value and sustainability to everything from a career to a culture.
I’m an artist who’s finally out of the closet.
Overcoming my own (lizard brain) resistance
- …if we got down the list of behaviors that are highly valued because of their scarcity, almost all of them are related to bringing a conscious and generous mind to the work, instead of indulging our lizard brain’s reflexes of fear, revenge, and conquest.
- Going out of your way to find uncomfortable situations isn’t natural, but it’s essential.
- There are books and classes that can teach you how to do most of the things discussed in this book. And while many copies are sold and many classes attended, the failure rate is astonishingly high.
- It’s not because the books and classes aren’t good. It’s because the resistance [of our lizard brain] is stronger.
My lizard brain is alive and well, ready for fight or flight, focused on “anger and revenge and sex and fear.” It takes over the higher functions when it detects a threat or big opportunity – and then I’m little better than my chocolate Labrador. Resistance will mount, and I’ll find myself cultivating fear instead of getting things done. The good news is that awareness is a big part of dealing with the resistance, and taking risks / getting things done can move you forward in spite of it.
I’m watching you, lizard brain.
Being a generous gift-giver
- In a monetary exchange, we focus on “if.” I will give you this if you give me that. The initial exchange depends on the promise of reciprocity, and doesn’t occur without it. In a gift, we imply and. I will give you this and you will do something for someone else. I will give you this and my expectation is that you will change the way you feel.
- The power lies in the creation of abundance. A trade leaves things as they were, with no external surplus. A gift always creates a surplus as it spreads.
- Gifts not only satisfy our needs as artists, they also signal to the world that we have plenty more to share.
People often give me a friendly yet puzzled smile when I share how important “being abundant” and “creating abundance” is to our business. It’s very affirming to see Seth share his similar perspective about generosity that really makes a difference – both to the receiver and the giver.
It may be that Seth and I are swimming upstream, yet the water is flowing differently than ever before. People’s triggers are all the more sensitive about what is genuinely helpful and what feels like a scam. We can create the environment in which we want to function – I pick abundance and generosity and will attract and enjoy those who want the same.
A note: it’s interesting that I “bought” this book by responding to an offer from Seth to give out books to people willing to donate money to the Acumen Fund, an organization “building transformative businesses to solve the problems of poverty.” What a way to walk the talk – asking people to give a gift (helping others) to receive the gift of a book which encourages people to achieve their potential by recognizing their own gifts and giving that to the world.
In my humble opinion, this is Seth's best work to date. Buy two or more when you get yours - you'll want to pass the gift along sooner rather than later.