THE BLOG
09/29/2014 12:03 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

'Oh, The Places You'll Godin' -- Seth Godin on Pushing Beyond Fear to Be a Social Entrepreneur

It's often easy to look at the past and see how leaders pushed through fear. But, in the present, it can be painfully difficult to push through fear when it's so much easier to sit comfortably. Not take a leap of faith. Not start an idea. Not question a boss. 

Enter the linchpin -- a term that Seth Godin defines as a person who disrupts and pushes through fear to be the change-maker.

I recently sat down with Seth to talk about pushing through fear to reach a new creative potential. His tips will help you continue to be remarkable and fly high without fear of having your wings melt. 

Below are a few highlights from the interview, but first, my favorite takeaway line. Being nervous is actually a good sign, says Seth: "If you're not nervous, you're not doing hard enough work."

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Mark: Should you have a team of people to bounce ideas off of and help steer decision-making?

Seth Godin: Reassurance is futile...You should not seek reassurance. When people are going to tell you everything's going to be okay, they have opened the door to an
endless series of things that are not going to help you. Everything is not going to be
okay. Everything is likely to completely screw up, and reassuring you isn't going to make a difference. You're too smart to be reassured.

That is different than the community saying, "We are with you. We are here even if you fail. We are counting on you. We know you are capable of this." That's not reassurance, right? That's reinforcement. And in my experience, the best way to be reinforced is to spend most of your time reinforcing other people.

Mark: So when you talk about reinforcement, is that different from affirmation, in your opinion?

Seth Godin: Well, there are lots of ways that we can use affirmation. The book "The Secret" is basically not worth the paper it's printed on. The universe does not actually know what you have set your heart on; the only person who knows that is you. And so if stating affirmations helps you dance with your lizard brain, if it helps you keep from hiding, I'm all in favor of it. If you are doing it because you think the flying spaghetti monster is quietly listening to you and is going to arrange the universe on your behalf, I don't think that's going to happen.

Mark: So what type of people should you keep around you?

Seth Godin: You know what, there are three kinds of people that most of us have around us - and I don't think I'm any exception. There's a group of people who, if I go to them with a bold idea, will say "No don't do it, you'll blow it. It's a bad idea." And I know that, so if I go to them with an idea, it's so that I can talk myself out of it.

There's another group of people that are always "Go, go, go! We like watching this."
And I know that if I go to them with an idea, that's what I'm going to hear.

And there's a third tiny group of people, MBA types, who can actually sit next to you at the whiteboard and help you break it down, and help you do the math, and help you say "This project makes more sense than that project." Those people are to be treasured. Those people are quite scarce.

Mark: What tips do you have for the social-purpose entrepreneur?

Seth Godin: Milton Friedman was wrong. There is no evidence that the purpose of a corporation is to make money for its shareholders. The purpose of a corporation is to serve many markets, many individuals including its shareholders, and its employees, and its customers, but most of all, the planet that it exists on. Because the fact is if you leave nothing but destruction in your wake, there's not going to be anyone to serve tomorrow.

To donate to Seth's favorite non-profit Acumen, click here.

(Read the entire interview or listen to it here.)

Mark W. Guay is an educator and the voice of The Traveling Cup Podcast where he interviews game-changers and social-purpose entrepreneurs. Subscribe to his newsletter here.