As a younger (than you are now) person, you would have hopefully read something that changed everything for you.
Maybe it was a character you identified with, or a writer who wrote in a style you loved.
Or maybe it was simply the story itself – one of hope, happiness, triumph, trauma, loss or gain.
The thing is, in those precious years, usually between 15 – 24, you would have read something that changed your perspective or inspired you to change course – maybe even grow into yourself. And sometimes, it’s years later, looking back on that book, that you realise the impact it had on you and the direction your life took.
That happened to me reading To Kill a Mockingbird. I was spellbound by the narrative voice and the power of the story set in a small town in Depression-era Alabama. The character of Scout, a fantastic tomboy, resonated with me in a thousand different ways. I absolutely loved that book.
I still do.
Fast-forward to a different kind of book that had a very different impact on me at a very different time in my life.
That next book that affected me in ways I never imagined happened at a time when I was pretty stuck. I had a good job in a large corporation and a lifestyle that went nicely with that. But when I thought about my future, it wasn’t this.
Feeling stuck, that sense of not moving, is a debilitating thing.
I knew I was ready for change and I had plenty of ideas – most of which started the day well enough, but never seemed to make it to the day after. My ideas were solid – I just didn’t know how to act on them. I had no idea where to even start.
Then a colleague recommended I read a book called Linchpin by some guy called Seth Godin.
A lot has been said about Linchpin. Most of it positive and some of it challenging the ideas raised. For me, it was a defining read. It was about making myself indispensable to myself so that I could start my own business – something I had almost zero experience in.
It helped me understand I wasn’t born with a magical talent. I had to approach work differently. And in my case, it meant retraining myself to define and achieve a string of small successes that would soon evolve into a bigger goal.
I read that book about eight years ago and it helped me get those ideas of mine into something tangible. And in practical terms, helped me understand that while perfection is a noble pursuit, it can be terrific at holding you back.
I learned how to ship things – keep things moving and the power of a self-imposed due date. I learned to forget about the fear of failure and just keep quietly shipping in my own way. And most importantly, I learned that in making creative choices for myself, I would need to stop being blocked by the resistance – or as Seth calls it – the lizard brain. Procrastination and rationalisation (you don’t know what you’re doing so you are going to stuff things up kind of rationalisation) are lizard brain attributes that I learned to overcome through reading and applying the principles of that book.
Fast forward eight years, and reading Linchpin was the first success on moving towards the bigger goal: starting this agency.