Book Review: Poke The Box

A few weeks ago I was sick. I had to take time off, pause and not really do much of anything. This is really hard when you’re in a house with a toddler. It’s one thing if you’re in the office and they’re in another room playing with your wife; quite another if you’re trying not to move too much in case you feel sick again, and they’re bouncing up to you asking to watch Frozen for the third time that day.

Being ill also coincided with feeling a little down. I don’t know why, but whenever I have to make decisions about the “what next?” for my business I feel a little down. I correlate it with thoughts of “but what if this isn’t a good idea?” and the doubts of “what if this really backfires or doesn’t go anywhere?” I was thinking about the coming academic year (which is out of sync with the business year by about six months, so it always feels a little odd when planning) and what new things I might do, when might I find time to write the next books and what shall I do about the projects on the back burner…

Doing all of this when feeling sick is not a good idea.

My wife, thankfully, suggested that I read an inspiring book to help find my mojo again, and after only a second’s pause I reached for my Kindle, curled up on the couch a bit more and started re-reading Poke The Box by Seth Godin.

The Book

I first read Poke The Box several years ago, when it first came out. It’s a lovely short book about starting things. It encourages people to be better and do great stuff by virtue of starting. There are some wonderful moments where it talks through concepts like ideas, creative thinking, innovation, leadership – then turns on them all and says “these are things that we either have in spades or which we can solve – the problem is people willing to start something.”

I can really recognise this in myself. I was about to suggest that I’m a procrastinator, but that’s not entirely true. I say “what if…?” a lot, but then get scared about taking things further (because, as I alluded earlier in this post, “what if…people don’t like it?” or “…it doesn’t work?”). There’s a really simple message in Poke The Box: people who start things don’t necessarily succeed, but they do so a lot more than people who don’t start anything. It’s a really simple message, an overly obvious one in many respects – but it’s easy not to see that truth when every day you wonder about whether or not you’re doing the right thing.

So in conjunction with a post about small projects that I read a few months ago, I’m starting some stuff. I’ve started my next books, and they could be out by the autumn. I’m re-designing a course that’s been on the shelf for a little while and will get to deliver it in about a month. This morning I did something which I have found scary in the past: I wrote to clients and said “Hey, what shall we do in the next year?”

Sometimes…

Sometimes when things get started, they don’t get finished, or they don’t finish up in the place that you thought they would. Sometimes things that get started turn out OK, and you have a smile on your face at the thought of a job well done. Sometimes they put smiles on lots of faces, sometimes they inspire others. Poke The Box has helped me remember some simple truths. It’s a great little book, and I recommend checking it out and thinking about what great things you could start soon.

Thanks for reading!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

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