A friend asked me if I was mad at Seth Godin. And I was surprised. And then he reminded me that I had said something like “God damn that Seth Godin for another brilliant remark” on Twitter. I vaguely remembered typing it, so I paused. Was I mad, I wondered?
I checked my soul. No, no. That wasn’t mad. No, uh-uh, that was envy.
Seth Godin, as many of you likely already know is unbelievably good at, well, everything. He writes prolifically, and not just drivel, but brilliant life-changing stuff. He’s able to still draw on his domain expertise of marketing, but his ideas are accessible across domains. He’s generous to every author. (I could tell you my story, but mine is just one of probably a 1000 stories of his good heart.) He writes back to every email. He’s innovating on both ideas, and companies. His Domino project is finally offering ideas a viable outlet that publishers have never been able to crack. He’s, well, just about perfect in my eyes. Almost, mythological.
And, yes, I am envious of him. There, I said it. Let this be an Ode to Seth Godin. He inspires.
Most people say that we shouldn’t be envious. It’s considered one of the seven deadly sins in the Bible. Envy is often viewed as a competitive energy that shows an insecurity of one to the other.
Envy is awesome if used as fuel. Being envious of Seth, I know more:
I wish I was as focused as him in writing/editing/curating ideas.
I wish I had an editorial mind like his to write short and more meaningful content.
I wish I was bald like him. (Well, no, that part I could do without.)
Or to ask, how does he write back kindly to all his emails (when I can barely deal)?
In other words, it can provide insight to what I want for myself. I don’t want to copy Seth. I need to be inspired by many people like Seth to see for myself what I want for my life. I can acknowledge that I want to be a writer that can actually create amazing value, like Seth Godin. I want to research ideas that really matter to people being their biggest and best self, and have those spread like Brene Brown has with her vulnerability work. I want to help entrepreneurs and leaders build companies that win their market, and be their “Bill Campbell” Or “Esther Dyson”.
And that serves as some necessary fuel for creating my own vision. I create an editorial calendar for myself so I can be a better writer. Maybe I’ll never be as good as Seth, but I’ll be better at my own writing. Maybe I’ll never be as brilliantly researched as Brene Brown, but I’ll work at finding a way to understand (and then share) how each can be most kick-ass. Maybe I’ll never be like Esther Dyson, but I’ll advise/fund/help where I can.
I like what all this envy gives me: insight, fuel for envisioning my own future, and a nudge. From there, I can set an agenda for what to work on. Then, and this is the important part, I have to do the work necessary. Envy is the signal and perhaps even a fuel source, but then…each of us has still gotta do the work to be the best we each can be.
So, who are you envious of? And Why? And how will you change what you do to do your own work…