True connection is a frightening prospect.
When you are seen by someone else, really seen, it hurts even more if you're ultimately rejected. When we connect, we make promises, buy into a different future, engage with another, someone who might let us down (or we might let them down).
Far easier, of course, to do something more shallow.
A friend on social media is not like a friend in real life.
And so, we sit at dinner, browsing on our phone instead of connecting with the person across from us. Because the phone promises instant gratification, an exciting dopamine hit, and plenty of faux intimacy.
Which is great as far as it goes, but no, it's not the same.
There's a common mistranslation that causes us trouble.
We say, "I am afraid," as if the fear is us, forever. We don't say, "I am a fever" or "I am a sore foot." No, in those cases, we acknowledge that it's a temporary condition, something we have, at least for now, but won't have forever.
"Right now, I have fear about launching this project," is quite different from, "I'm afraid."
Wouldn't that be great?
Great if you could share all your wisdom on a popular podcast, or be featured on Shark Tank? Great if you had a powerful agent or bureau or publisher? Great if you could get admitted to an internship program that would lead to a well-attended gig on the main stage? Great if the CEO figured out just how committed you are and invited you to her office?
The thing about being discovered is that in addition to being fabulous, it's incredibly rare. Because few people have the time or energy to go hunting for something that might not be there.
To be sought out.
Instead of hoping that people will find you, the alternative is to become the sort of person these people will go looking for.
This is difficult, of course, because it means you have to create work that might not work. That you have to lean out of the boat and invest in making something that's remarkable. That you have to be generous when you feel like being selfish.
Difficult because there's no red carpet, no due dates and no manual.
But that's okay, because your work is worth it.
[Upcoming speaking gigs, many in Boston, all different: Philadelphia August 24, Boston September 14 with Zoominfo, then the Business of Software Conference on September 18th, then with Marketo in Boston on October 3rd. Moving on with Marketo to Chicago on October 4 and then with Brandemonium in Cincinnati on October 12. Finishing in NY on November 1.]
PS Adam Price has a new book out this month. He's Not Lazy is the kind of book that can dramatically transform a relationship for the better, changing lives for the long run. If you have teenagers, I hope you'll get a copy.
We can measure it.
For decades, every single year, scientists have visited the Galapagos and measured the beaks of a particular species of finch.
And year after year, with each generation, the beaks change, exactly as we'd expect from the weather patterns of the year before. Evolutionary biology works, and rigorous data collection backs it up.
For hundreds of years, though, science has gotten it wrong about gender, race and ethnicity. Eugenics and its brethren sound simple, but often lead to tragic outcomes.
The sloppy scientist says, "on average, across populations, left to its own devices, this group is [not as skilled] [neurotic] [hard to work with] [not as smart] [not as strong] [slower]" etc. They make assumptions without sufficient data, and the rigor is missing.
The first problem is that human beings aren't averages, they're individuals. And the bigger problem is that we're never left to our own devices. We are creatures of culture.
The math that we can do on populations of hedgehogs or pigeons doesn't apply to people, because people build and change and experience culture differently than any other species.
Your DNA is virtually identical to that of the hordes that accompanied Ghengis Khan, as well as most Cro-Magnon cavemen--pass one on the street and you wouldn't be able to tell that he's different from you. The reason you don't act the way they did is completely the result of culture, not genes.
It's culture that pushes us to level up, to dig deeper, to do things that we might not otherwise do. It's culture that finds and encourages and pushes people to become better versions of themselves than anyone else expected to find.
So it was sloppy/lazy/fearful science that said that women couldn't handle being doctors. And it was sloppy science that worked to limit the number of Asian or Jewish students at various institutions. And it's sloppy science that's been used against black people for hundreds of years.
And sloppy science said that a 4 minute mile was impossible and that a woman could never finish a marathon.
Sloppy because it doesn't include all the relevant factors. There's nothing wrong with the scientific method, but everything is wrong with using it poorly (and often intentionally).
What we need are caring human beings who will choose to change the culture for the better.
Not all of it, of course. Merely the culture they can touch. The people they can engage with. The human beings they can look in the eye, offer to help, offer encouragement and offer a hand up.
Once we reset the standard, it becomes the new normal, and suddenly, the sloppy science seems like phrenology. Because culture is up to us.
Sloppy science isn't science at all. It's the lazy or wrongheaded use of the scientific method part of the time, mixing in fear for good measure. Ignoring culture ignores the part that truly matters.
It's tempting to judge people by their DNA. It makes a lot more sense, though, to see people based on what they can contribute instead.
Addiction to substances has been around ever since someone fermented grapes a million years ago. The opioid epidemic is the latest addiction tragedy, brought on by greed and disinformation.
It took longer for behavioral addictions to arrive, but they're just as real.
The ASAM defines it: Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response.
The thing is that we treat behavioral addictions differently because sometimes they're seen as a useful, profitable contribution.
We've gotten better, much better, at creating interactions and substances that are addictive. They get built and marketed because they're profitable, but the creators of these systems don't want to take responsibility for the impact they have on people. Behavior addiction is real, it's chronic and you might be suffering from it.
Get addicted to the rush at work, or to the endless flow of the online world, and your life changes. Attention spans go down, patience decreases, essential tasks are left undone, and most of all, our humanity starts to fade away.
Just because it appears productive, just because you bought it in a store or got promoted for it at work doesn't mean it's not addictive and worth managing. Even if you need the eggs.
[You're getting this note because you subscribed to Seth Godin's blog.]
Don't want to get this email anymore? Click the link below to unsubscribe.