Seth Godin is funny, bright and gets to the point. I learned today that human beings have an attention span of about seven seconds. And that puts us bipeds behind goldfish who can pay attention for eight seconds. (Kudos, Michael Levin, for that insight.) So for this reason, among others, you should read Seth or watch his TED talks.
Back to Seth. In his book, Poke the Box, Seth talks about initiative. In answer to the workplace question “what do you do here?” Seth points out that “almost no one says ‘I start stuff.’”
How do you start stuff?
Seth says you “poke the box.” You try something out. Sit at a piano and start hitting keys and listen to what comes out. Initiative is something we take; it isn’t handed to us. Failing to take initiative will tend to make us reactive rather than proactive.
I’ve learned the hard way that if I wait around for inspiration to drop by my apartment for a cup of coffee, I will never write anything. Inspiration usually shows up after I just start.
Okay. What kind of stuff can you start? Remember feeling and inspiration aren’t the most important variables in actually getting something rolling. A decision is. Try these and add your own:
- A regular exercise program—weights, walking, cardio. Start small.
- A blog. Write enough to fill one screen’s worth of space, about 200-400 words. Or like me, start writing again in the blog you already have.
- A well-crafted, eye-catching résumé. Put it together and post it on LinkedIn and Indeed. Or update the one you’ve already posted.
- A regular, undistracted reading program. “Regular” = every day. Start small—maybe all you can manage is ten minutes. Start there and build it up. And unhook your connections to the outside world so you can focus.
- Teach yourself to write code and try it out (Seth’s suggestion, this). The reward center in your brain will light up when it works.