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Seth Godin's Sink or Swim Philosophy

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"Our industrial culture doesn't work that way. We talk about 'sink or swim,' but there's not as much sinking going on as you might expect. There's a fair amount of treading water, a whole lot of people unwilling to get into the pool at all, but not so much sinking. If a business fails, jobs are lost, lives dislocated; it's true. But no one is burned at the cross; the suffering isn't nearly as long lasting as our fears would have us believe." -Seth Godin, The Icarus Deception

So I have this love-hate thing with the gym. I hate going and hate everything about it but I love the endorphins. More than that, I love the time it gives me to read things like the above. I'm on my second reading of The Icarus Deception and I enjoy it just as much this time around. I love the way Godin makes crazy things, like quitting your job and risking it all on your passion, seem so levelheaded and normal. 

I love reading about and talking to people who are NOT "normal." I love people who think that the real crazy ones are those who willingly accept a 9 to 5 for 40 years. I love reading stuff that reinforces my weird way of thinking. Yeah it's a hard job and lifestyle, but it's mine. And I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Four years ago I quit being a full-time employee and became a consultant. Yes, I gave up benefits, bonuses, a guaranteed paycheck, etc. But for 2 years I was able to do what I wanted when I wanted. I worked from Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, and numerous other cool places. I remember having to find wifi to solve a quick problem, and was able to find it in the bowels of the Sydney Opera House. There are worse places to pilfer internet.

Two plus years ago I bought Apericots and no longer had a "real" job. Nobody has paid me a cent in nearly 30 months. If I don't work, I don't get paid. And guess what? I haven't sunk. I haven't been burned at the cross. The suffering has been very mild and minor.

In talking to friends and family, I know fear is the main reason people don't go for what they want. "What if it doesn't work?" Well, to that I say, what if it does? Like Godin says, we get so scared of the failure part that we do nothing. But guess what? There will always be another job you can go to if you fail. You won't die. You won't be publicly flogged. Sure, failing sucks and is humiliating (I should know) but it's not fatal.

And there's a whole lot of swimming going on. It seems like every month I read about someone I knew in high school making crazy money, starting a successful company, etc. This stuff happens, and it's not just supergeniuses that are doing it. You can do it. You won't die if you try. You might tread water, you might sink, but guess what? You also might swim. And in my (very minor) experience with this, it's so incredibly worth it. 



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