If you can’t play a single note that people want to hear, is it still worth learning to play an instrument?
Seth Godin posed that question to his recent TED talk audience. He then instructs audience members to raise their right hand. He repeats the request by asking them to raise it higher. All comply. “What’s that about?” he asks. Why didn’t they raise their hands as high as possible the first time?
Godin believes that as children we are taught to play it safe, to hold a little bit back. We are taught to save something because something better might come along. “We make the menu longer instead of making one dish that people are willing to drive crosstown to buy,” he adds.
Instead we need to end up with a “hacker paradigm.” We need to care enough to put ourselves at risk; to play one note that someone else feels is willing to hear.
But we also need to be willing to play the note before it might be ready because it will never be the right time. Guttenberg launched the printing press when only 8 percent of Europeans could read. Carl Benz introduced his automobile when it was illegal to drive and there were no drivable roads.
So the question comes down to this. What will you do that really matters? What will you do to actually make music that others want to hear?
What a powerful message this is – at a time when disruptive and exponential change is unraveling normal. Uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity have pulled away our safety net. We’ve been exposed bare by the acceleration of change and feel uncomfortably vulnerable.
But here is good news. You can make change work for you. You can hitch a ride on accelerating and exponential change and use its momentum to transform volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity into a world of abundance, where the laws of scarcity and average dissolve.
Now isn’t the time to hold back. So what will you do in 2017 (and beyond) that really matters? What will you do to make music that others want to hear?