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Stop Waiting—It’s Your Turn!

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For most of us, anxiety is part of risk-taking. Without a little fear, taking the leap from your boring office job to becoming a full-time freelancer, just wouldn’t be as rewarding. And make no mistake, change is difficult, but also critical when it comes to your career success. The trick is not to let that fear of the unknown stop you from stepping up, and taking your turn at getting what you want—even if you have to create the opportunity for success, yourself.

This is the central theme in What to Do When It’s Your Turn, by Seth Godin. Godin is an award-winning author and entrepreneur, most known for his daily blog, books, and courses on marketing and business. I personally read What To Do When It’s Your Turn, in the early days of my freelancing career, and found myself buying in to the positive thinking and ‘can do’ attitude that the stories Godin has compiled, inspire.

This book helped me to start thinking about my goals in a more positive, self-motivated way, by taking a look at both the fear behind taking risks, and the amazing outcomes when you finally make a move, and go for it.  This month in bookclub, we’re exploring how to get set up with the confidence you need to have the career of your dreams—it’s time to start reading!

In a Nutshell

Godin has organized his book to read much like a magazine, complete with glossy pictures and easy-to-read layouts. He combines stories from historical figures, with personal stories collected from friends and acquaintances, to make for an engaging, quick read. Seriously, I think I finished this book in one afternoon. Godin’s storytelling talent lays in transforming how you think about the outcomes of the tales he’s relaying to you. We all love a motivating story, but the book leaves you with solid understanding of how thought becomes action, and leads to achievement.

At the end of this book I felt really positive, and truly motivated to take a hard look at my own career goals—which I didn’t initially expect from such a unabashedly self-helpy seeming book. Even better, I didn’t feel like I was being fed comparisons that would make my goals and aspirations feel insignificant. The way Godin writes leads his reader to feel capable. Like, hey—we can totally do this. And when it comes to freelancing, or making any significant career move, that’s the first, and arguably most important, step.

Reasons to Read

I’ve found that most business books can be distilled into about 5 pages of concrete knowledge, and are essentially repackaging basic lessons so that you understand how to employ them in your own life. You need to form habits and reinforce the messages that will motivate and change you. In this way, you are training yourself for a lifetime of success.

Throughout Godin’s book, there are about 40 stories that reinforce these messages of success, from historical figures, and from people personal to the author, by tracing back to the moment that they ‘took their turn’, or did something to change their situation. Through their stories, you as the reader connect effort directly to success, and can begin to understand the ways that action impacts success

My favorite part of how Godin explains success, is by discussing failure. Almost always, it’s failure that leads us to eventual success, because failure means that you’re putting yourself out there and trying things. Nothing happens, positive or negative, unless you’re out there making moves! This is especially applicable for freelancers. Maybe it takes you a few tries to get negotiating down pat. Maybe you’re mis-appraising your work. Or perhaps the idea of juggling clients keeps you up at night. Whatever the case, you’ll never learn how to manage those situations (and your fear around them) without real-world exposure. So why not jump in?

Best Chapters

At 159 pages, this book flies by, so I suggest reading the whole thing. Because Godin relays his points with illustrations, personal stories, and stories from history, it reads like a magazine, and is aesthetically beautiful as well as entertaining.

For example, the book opens with the story of Annie Kenney, a suffragette from Manchester, who was most active during the early 1900s. Kenney ‘took her turn’ at a rally where she demanded that two politicians, both male, weigh in on if women should have the right to vote. Kenney was subsequently jailed for her outburst at the event, and went on to become a key player in the suffragette movement of the time. Godin’s point about Annie’s story, is that, while she made history, her role was dependent on taking a chance after she was lucky enough to be in the right place, at the right time—even if she was unaware of it in the moment.

The Critical Takeaway

I am personally not a fan of the New Year’s resolution because historically, the narrative isn’t a positive one. Making unrealistically grand promises as the year turns over is something of a human tradition—as is quitting those goals about a week, to a month, in.

Instead of the yearly, doomed resolution, I like to think about my goals in terms of the year as a whole. What do I want to accomplish tomorrow, next week, or next month? How am I breaking down my bigger goal into smaller action items that I can cross off every day or week? Am I waiting for my turn to come around, or am I deciding it’s my turn—and going after what I want?

If what I’m proposing is making you break out in a nervous sweat, never fear. Contrary to what you might think, being confident or organized or any number of other important skills, can totally be learned. And that way, when the opportunity for you to step up and take the job, or the classes, or the client, you’ll know that making a leap out of your comfort zone is just another part of success. Like Godin explains: sometimes it’s as easy as deciding that it’s your turn.

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