“I’m no longer sure what the question is, but I do know that the answer is Yes.” — Leonard Bernstein
And thus begins Seth Godin’s latest book, What To Do When It’s Your Turn (And it’s always your turn). I have read many of Seth’s published works and have enjoyed and been motivated by all of them, but I was particularly enchanted, excited and inspired by his latest effort.
Printed in full color, the unique format includes photographs, collages, and blocks and circular colors, in addition to the text, which appears in different sizes and fonts. Seth created what in his own words, “seems more like a high-end magazine than a book, that will encourage even people who hesitate to buy and read books to be engaged by this one.” I wholeheartedly agree.
According to Seth, “The book explores, as directly as I can, the dance we all have to do with our fears, the tension we all must embrace in order to do work that we care about. It pushes us to dig deep inside so we can do better work and impact the things we care about.” Fear is a word used throughout the book.
Seth explores, creatively and consistently, the very critical issue of personal fears and what we all do — and how we do it — about grappling with them. He does not for one moment let us forget that we have fears and how they can and do prevent us from moving forward, from fulfilling our dreams, and even preventing us from having dreams. Because we would then fear having to fulfill them.
Also at the core of What To Do When It’s Your Turn is Seth’s belief that freedom is not only an opportunity, but also a problem. Freedom allows us to make choices, which bring the appearance of risk and responsibility. What if we make the wrong choice? By liberating ourselves from the need to be right, we can also liberate ourselves from the fear. Says Seth, “If you are not willing to imagine failure, you’re unable to be free.”
Despite the fact that our culture reinforces the fear of failure daily, Seth believes that “failure is almost never as bad as we think it will be, but it’s our fear that we fear, not the failure.”
Seth includes in What To Do When It’s Your Turn many quotes, thought-provoking comments and questions, inspiration, and a very real determination to encourage us to get out there and “Take a Turn.” He warns that it might not work. It might not be fun. But he’s hoping that we will “do it anyway.”
Our need to be recognized as a winner, Seth believes, can destroy our ability to take our turn, because that requires that we are not willing to not win. However, if we care enough to do exceptional work, we must choose to risk failure.
Seth asks: “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” My answer: I don’t remember, but will try to do that each and every day. Like Leonard Bernstein, I am saying, “Yes!”