The Story Economy Blog

A year for starting (and a book giveaway!)

Football isn’t really my sport. Except there are two things I love to watch. First is when there’s a bunch of fancy action, and suddenly there’s a guy with a ball who is running right through people, creating holes to move where there are no holes—and he just keeps going, even as the defense is trying to drag every limb to the ground. I think I love that because it reminds me of my 15-month old, who—although she is a smiley vision in fuchsia—is every bit of a running back, navigating obstacles (mostly her brother) in her way.

But what I really love is when some guy is just running toward the end zone, faster than seems possible. So fast that for a second, you think you might be fast-forwarding your TV. It’s not the physical effort or display of strength I love, because that’s just a matter of sweat and practice. No, I love it because I know it’s really, really scary to run with that kind of abandon, when you think your heart might burst or your lungs might fall out. If you ask one of these guys what they feel when they’re running toward the end zone, I know they are not going to say they feel fear. Of course not. They feel adrenaline, excitement, and energy. But at some point, they learned to just let go of the fear. They’re fast not just because they have developed powerhouse quads. They’re fast because they’re not afraid to be. Without that mindset, none of those crazy drills they do in training to build speed matter.

I can’t believe that I am drawing a lesson from football of all things, but this fear thing is sort of a big deal. And I’m pretty sick of it. That’s why I have a mini-plan to let go of my own fear (it doesn’t involve making touchdowns though—thank goodness).

 Time to Run . . . And Poke

“Imagine that the world had no middlemen, no publishers, no bosses, no HR folks, no one telling you what you couldn’t do. If you lived in that world, what would you do? Go. Do that.”

This passage is from Seth Godin’s book, Poke the Box (that's the cover below). This little book is all about doing it. (No, not “doing it”—get your mind out of the gutter.) It’s about testing with your effort. (The title comes from the phrase programmers use when programming: they try some code, and when it doesn’t quite work, they try something else. They “poke the box.”) It’s about trying. It’s about starting projects (instead of just talking about them). It’s about failing, too. Because you have to fail at stuff to know what works. (We’re talking marketing and creative work here—not, you know, trying a new technique for flying a plane, making a risky investment with your life savings, or winging birth control.)

Starting things, trying the unknown, testing when there’s a really good chance it will fall flat: that all involves fear. I’ve never been afraid to write or afraid of my voice. But I have been afraid to do stuff related to my writing business that I don’t really know how to do because I’m afraid someone will tell me that I’m doing it wrong.

But this is the year of rising above that! This is the year of poking the box! It doesn’t mean it’s the year of absolute success. It means it’s the year of running toward the end zone and not caring if my lungs fall out.

Here are some of the things I’m going to try: a branding webinar in a few weeks, a virtual conference in the spring, two eBook projects where I’ll be weaving together ideas that I don’t completely understand yet, and a potential book collaboration with a company I great admire.

I know I will fail, at something. Definitely not everything. And probably nothing that’s going to humiliate me. So, in the spirit of poking the box, I’m going to do a book giveaway. I bought a five-pack of Poke the Box; two I’m keeping for me (one for me personally to re-read and one to have on hand for when I come across a person who looks like they desperately need it). That leaves three, so I’m giving away all three. As long as you’re in the U.S., I’ll ship it right to you. (Oh, and even if you’re not familiar with Godin, you’ll love this book. It’s the most approachable, inspiring, and smart manifesto I’ve read. And you can read in one sitting.)

I have three ways to win a copy of Poke the Box (you can enter all three to increase your chances):

  1. Leave a comment on this blog post about what you are going to start this year/what you might fail at/what else you need to get motivated to just do it. I’ll approve any blog comments that aren’t spam.

  2. Go the Facebook page and comment on the post you’ll see there about poking the box.

  3. Just “like” the Facebook page. I’ll choose a random fan.

I’ll choose the winner next Tuesday (January 17th). Forward this on to anyone you think needs some inspiration and push to start that project!

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  • Christine Luken

    Posted by Christine Luken on 01/11/12 5:31pm

    By mid-February, I will be completely self-employed! I'm leaving the family business, where I have made a comfortable living for the past 12 years, to pursue my dream of helping as many families as I can save money and become debt free! (Equal parts scary and exciting!)

  • Geri Lafferty

    Posted by Geri Lafferty on 01/11/12 6:44pm

    Love your article.

    I have been in business for six years and this past year was a really tough one economically. Certainly, I am not the only solopreneur to have faced that reality. And now I have to be honest about where I am going in 2012. There is the realization that I may have to ask for help, something that is very difficult for me. In order to get where I want to go, changes are in order.

    Failure is not an option! I say that with optimism and trepidation.

    Onward and upward...

  • Th√©r√®se Northrop

    Posted by Thérèse Northrop on 01/11/12 9:08pm

    It's not going all out for the short term that I'm afraid's sustaining it, and since being a solopreneur requires you to give your all for the long term, I hesitate to go all out. This is a good reminder that it doesn't matter if you fail; you just have to try. Thanks!

  • Jen Beck, RNC

    Posted by Jen Beck, RNC on 01/11/12 11:10pm

    I am committing to multiple webinars, seeking out speaking engagements and creating my first self-study program. My challenge: TECHNOLOGY!
    I know that this will be a year of a big learning for me, but I am motivated by the fact that with these things being accomplished, I can greatly impact people and provide them with the tools to truly heal their bodies and live the life they were destined to live!

  • Lucie

    Posted by Lucie on 01/12/12 2:40pm

    It's inspiring to read the other comments above! I just set up my LLC and now it's time to do a full marketing push for my new little business. As I've been doing the groundwork to get ready to launch - it's comforting to think the opportunities are out there- but I won't really know til I try to chase them down. That's the fear part- doing it and maybe not getting the responses!

  • Jodi

    Posted by Jodi on 01/12/12 6:46pm

    I took a leap to invest in ME in 2012. It was a scary step and I just keep reminding myself that fear lets us know we're alive!

  • Caroline

    Posted by Caroline on 01/13/12 2:12am

    I'm going to get my book published, even if I have to do it myself!

  • J. Lee

    Posted by J. Lee on 01/16/12 10:28pm

    I'm investing highly in myself for coaching that doesn't make sense financially based on my current income, but does based on where I'm headed ... and I can only get there with the coaching and accountability. It is frightening though. I will also tackle my two largest fears: video and public speaking .... one way or another. I may fail myself to success, but those 2 beasts will be slayed in 2012! :-)

    P.S. I'm looking forward to BrandCom starting on the 12th!

  • Daniel J. Lewis

    Posted by Daniel J. Lewis on 01/17/12 4:16am

    I'm going to produce my Audacity training series to sell as a digital product. This could also be what I fail at doing in 2012. :/

    I'll also launch my specialized web design site for podcasters and bloggers to try to help market my freelance business better.

    And I, too, hope to have a small book self-published this year. It's podcasting and design related, but it's a secret for now.

  • Jennifer Mitchell

    Posted by Jennifer Mitchell on 01/17/12 4:39am

    I'm finally going to start sending out newsletters. I've had a signup on my website for a while, until I figured out what I wanted to say. I think I've found it now, so I'm sending the first one out next week. (Scary and exciting all at the same time!)

    I'm also redoing all of my marketing - website, business cards, social media strategy, networking groups - everything. This might be the one I fail at, a little, as I figure out what's optimal for me and my business.

  • admin

    Posted by admin on 01/17/12 2:27pm

    self-employment, asking for help, going all out, publishing a book, sending out newsletters, digital products & technology, big business investments, marketing pushes: these are some seriously great plans for 2012. Thanks everyone for sharing. Now that you've written it here, in this public space, you are accountable and you must do it!

  • admin

    Posted by admin on 01/17/12 2:30pm

    Okay, I just scrolled up and down randomly, closed my eyes and picked a winner from the comments, and it's Geri Lafferty! Geri, I'll be in touch to get your address. Congrats!

    -- Judi

  • Geri Lafferty

    Posted by Geri Lafferty on 01/17/12 10:28pm

    Thank you so much!

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