This post, by Seth Godin, originally appeared on his blog on 3/11/09. In it, Mr. Godin offers some excellent advice for anyone who’s swimming against the tide; indie authors and small imprints, for example.
There’s a story in the bible with very specific instructions for building an ark. Included in the instructions is a call for using tanned dolphin leather. Regardless of your feelings about the historical accuracy of the story, it’s an interesting question: why create an impossible mission like that? Why encourage people who might travel 100 miles over their entire lifetime to undertake a quest to find, capture, kill, skin and eventually tan a dolphin?
My friend Adam had an interesting take on this. He told me that the acquisition of the leather is irrelevant. It was the quest that mattered. Having a community-based quest means that there’s less room for whining, for infighting and for dissolution. Having a mission not only points everyone in the same direction, it also creates motion. And motion in any direction is often better than no motion at all.
All around you, people are telling you two things:
1. whatever you want, forget it, it’s impossible, and
2. sit still, preserve resources, lay low.
And yet, the people who are succeeding, creating change and (not coincidentally) are happier aren’t listening to either of these pieces of advice. Instead, they’re on the search for dolphin leather.
Frank Sinatra had it wrong. Your dream shouldn’t be impossible, but it sure helps if it’s improbable. Don’t choose your dreams based on what is certain to happen, choose them based on what’s likely to cause the change you want to occur around you.
Read more of Seth Godin’s insights on his blog.