Seth Godin on Thrashing Early

Here’s a link to an 18-minute presentation by Seth Godin. Although his talk is primarily aimed an entrepreneurs, I think there are some great lessons for writers and other creatives as well.

Seth Godin tells his audience that they are creative enough, that having creative ideas is fairly easy. The hard part is executing those ideas, finishing them. And the reason for that is your lizard brain. The lizard brain is that core part of your brain that exists only to feed your basic needs. It likes simplicity and predictability. However, the more evolved part of your brain–the limbic system–likes to get creative, challenge the status quo, and act unpredictably.

As deadlines approach, whether it’s the shipping date for a new piece of software or a publication deadline, you realize you will be most exposed, most at risk. So your lizard brain starts thrashing. It starts freaking out, imagining worst-case scenarios, and trying to get you to introduce last-minute tweaks to your product. Now, because the lizard brain is the oldest part of your brain, it’s powerful, even though it’s tiny. And this freak out thrashing often causes people to either not finish their product or to sabotage it. I was glad to hear Seth Godin make reference to “resistance,” a topic Steven Pressfield discusses in his book The War of Art. It’s a book you should read annually. It’s very inspiring.

Now, I won’t spoil the ending, so go watch the video. Seth Godin teaches you how to conquer your lizard brain through performing a little jujitsu with your thrashing. By changing how you respond to thrashing, you should not only ship more products and create more art, but your final products should be better as well. And who doesn’t want that?

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