The Pastor and the Marketer

Wise words from Seth Godin

In the spirit of my last post, I have been immersing myself in a world where possibility and innovation are the norms. I am going out of my way to reach out to people I admire who are doing good work, reading as many articles as I can manage about internal and external innovation, attending events where the inspiration pool can be drunk from freely.

Surrounding yourself with variations of a positive, pro-active mindset is so important: it’s empowering and enriching. I think it forces you to see life in a new way: not just with rose-colored glasses, but  through the filter of doing and not just dreaming. That in itself is not easy: it takes willpower, it takes work, it takes dedication and discipline. But the payoff is worth it.

Last Friday, I attended the monthly Creative Mornings lecture. This month’s speaker was Seth Godin, marketing god and the innovative spirit incarnate. The theme of his talk was “backwards,” and he spoke energetically about “leading up,” or “creating a reputation and an environment where the people around you are transformed into the bosses you deserve.” What I took away from Godin is that we already have the tools we need to become the kind of people we want to become. We need to act with purpose and not be afraid of failure.

Godin ended his talk with a poignant question: he said that everyone in the auditorium listening to his talk would undoubtedly be successful, but would our work matter? It is this point that most resonated with me.

Fast-forward to Sunday evening: I was still marinating in the insights Godin shared with his audience, as well as thoughts about my own work and plans. On TV, I caught my first episode of Oprah’s Lifeclass, and her guest was Pastor Joel Osteen, leader of the largest ministry in the U.S. Now, I have my own reservations and conflicts with some of the things Osteen says about God, but I really do admire his positivity and his sense of optimism and hope.

Osteen was discussing how powerful the words “I am” are. His point, that Oprah was practically jumping on a couch over, is that life is how you see it. The words that follow “I am” is what you’re inviting into your life. So, for example, when you say “I am tired” or “I am unworthy,” you are inviting those forces into your life more than they are already present. The way you define your I am’s are a good barometer of where you’ll be in five years. In my example, you’ll be tired and unworthy, perhaps even more so.

But if you change your “I am” and make it an uplifting statement about yourself, you are giving yourself positive reinforcement. Osteen’s examples of how to change your I am’s are: “I am valuable,” “I am disciplined,” “I am beautiful.” Don’t be quick to dismiss this — the point is an important one. Instead of relying on others to tell us who we are and what we are, we should be helping ourselves, and there’s no greater way for that than by taking steps to change what we tell ourselves about ourselves.

Godin and Osteen both make such an important point in different ways: we are our own change-agents. If we want to become the best version of ourselves, if there’s something we want to accomplish — no matter how big or small — we can do it. We have to have faith in ourselves, in our ability to be better.

If you’re going through a transition like I am — moving back to my hometown after a few years away in what felt like another world and exploring what life holds for me next — these points are powerful, simple, necessary.

We all want to live a beautiful life. It’s in our hands: that is an empowering fact, just as it is an intense responsibility.

So, how will you be the person you want to be, to live the life you most want to live?

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