What do you do? Not your job title, what is it you do at work? Do you make tea, attend meetings, organise events? We follow rules and complete projects. According to Seth Godin’s new book, very few of us ‘makes things happen’.

Godin describes how we are moulded at a young age to follow rules, be disciplined, to follow instructions throughout the various stages of our life. As a consequence it becomes natural that we wait for projects to be handed to us and do what people tell us to.

Godin has written 15 international best-sellers, this latest (billed as a ‘manifesto’ on the book’s blurb) is a call for people to ‘start stuff’. Well it got me writing my first book review.

There are very few people who go to great lengths to do something really significant with a new idea, he says, and we should learn from them. These people, no matter how much they fail, keep poking and poking. They poke, says Godin, until they come out of the box.

Use your initiative, take action and be in control. Scary, you may think. Things could fail, or, they might work. But it’s the fear of failing which stop us from taking that extra step.

This I found very interesting. If you look at some of the great entrepreneurs, Oprah Winfrey, Henry Ford, John Lasseter, they prove Godin’s theory correct.

Godin has a wonderful way of plucking historical anecdotes to lead you into his point. I particularly enjoyed the ‘Semmelweis Imperative’: a physician in the 1800s realised that poor hygiene was a major contributor towards the spread of disease. Semmelweis poked successfully, but didn’t have the tact to explain his theory. He lost all momentum and a lifesaving medical breakthrough was delayed by years.

It is not enough to have a good idea, or a good day in the office. A host of things are needed to poke successfully. Using your initiative to make a change, big or small, is just the start. But every journey…

Want more Godin? Try Purple Cow
Want something similar? Try One Customer, Divisble by Michael W. Lowenstein
Best line: So, if money and access and organisational might aren’t the foundation of the connected economy, what is? Initiative.

Poke the Box, by Seth Godin is available in hardback, on Kindle, and audiobook