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  • Writer's pictureJack Mullaney

What I'm Reading: The Practice

"Waiting for a feeling is a luxury we don't have time for."

That's why author Seth Godin believes in having a practice of shipping creative work. Whether it's writing, design, or business, making a consistent habit of sharing ("shipping") your art paves the way for you to trust yourself, your audience, and your work.

"The practice is not the means to the output," Godin writes, "The practice is the output, because the practice is all we can control. The practice demands that we approach our process with commitment. It acknowledges that creativity is not an event, it's simply what we do, whether or not we're in the mood."

When you honor your commitment to the input, confidence is increased because you have tangible evidence that you can bet on yourself.

When you share your input, you find out who your work connects with, and who it doesn't.

When your work connects with someone, it's an act of generosity. Godin likens it to the Turkish practice called askida ekmek: bread on the hook. It's an ancient tradition in Turkey whereby when buying a loaf of bread at the local bakery, you can elect to buy a second one to be hung "on the hook" on the wall. If a person in need comes by, the baker can offer that loaf, because it's been paid for. By sharing your creative work (putting it "on the hook"), Godin believes, you are sharing experience and insight that someone else may enjoy or find valuable.

Listening to a podcast about this book was one of the many confluent factors that originally led to this daily blog. If anything, reading the book only provided the fuel to continue. It's been a fun experience so far, and I'll share thoughts on my "practice" of blogging at a later date.

For now, I think it's pertinent to see the parallels the book's thesis can have with running.

"If you are using outcomes that are out of your control as fuel for your work, it's inevitable that you will burn out," the books says, "Because it's not fuel you can replenish, and it's not fuel that burns without a residue."

I've touched on this before, but it bears repeating. We have less control over our competitive outcomes than we do over our practice and preparation for those competitions. Too often, we are far too tough on ourselves over an outcome, and too tolerant on ourselves over our practice and preparation.

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon* summed it up well on NBA player JJ Redick's podcast a few years ago:

“There are a whole bunch of things that you can control, and there are things you can’t control. On the things you can control, you have to be incredibly buttoned up, focused, and right with a real level of excellence - you know, execution excellence - on everything you can control. If you do that, you’re going to be better equipped to deal with what you can’t control, and what the world throws at you.”

Or, as Godin puts it: "The time we spend worrying is actually time we're spending trying to control something that is out of our control. Time invested in something that is within our control is called work."

That's the practice.

*If you've read the news lately, while Solomon wasn't involved, it appears that some within the company deviated from this advice.

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