Godin encourages us to be initiators – to start something – every day.
The concept of poking the box is bigger than thinking outside the box. It’s about re-shaping the box, or even creating the box from scratch. Thinking outside the box assumes there is an established right way. Poking the box is about creating something new, doing something entirely different, or entirely differently.
With the release of the book, Godin poked the box himself. He created the manifesto in a short period of time, released it without an agent or publisher, and made it available on Amazon for a limited time for $0.99 – all unconventional moves. He didn’t ask for permission or anyone’s blessing. He just did it.
But while Godin may be very happy to see you poke the box, not everyone will. There will be bosses, colleagues, family members, and others trying to hold you back, convincing you that it’s better not to rock the boat, or that you can’t challenge the status quo. Often they will win.
During my career in Corporate America I was a poker. I was first drawn to jobs where something new was being created, and later to jobs where we didn’t even know what the thing to be created was until after we started. It’s scary to be in that position, but it’s a whole lot more satisfying that simply implementing something someone else has created.
But poking didn’t always fare well for me. Not all of the projects I took on succeeded (to be expected according to Godin). When times were tough I found myself in a position where my job was at risk, and where employees under me lost their jobs. Those employees were some of the best initiators.
While I could deal with the failures, over time I was less willing to work within a system that didn’t recognize the inherent success within those failures. My solution was to decide to poke elsewhere.
Have you poked the box? What’s your story?