This review originally appeared on my review site.
Seth Godin's rise to the cultural/marketing/intellectual elite allows him to say or write pretty much whatever he wants; in response, his readers raise up a fist and cry "Hear, hear!" When I put it this way, it sounds terrifying (at the least, unnerving). And maybe it is. But not because Godin has all our attention, but because what he's saying is relevant and smart.
In "Graceful," a shorter ebook released six months ago, Godin discusses the attitude, lifestyle, and aura of the new revolutionaries: the gracefuls.
"Graceful is artistic, elegant, subtle and effective. Graceful makes things happen and brings light but not heat."
Godin's "Graceful" is an inspiring read, not only because of its discussion of how consumers will gravitate towards art instead of stuff, but because his advice for assimilation into this new world is based on values and virtues.
Don't let the word "virtues" turn you off. He doesn't preach; he's not even up on a soapbox. The fact of it is, being graceful makes you a linchpin; grace is achieved with generosity, authenticity, intregrity, and other forms of emotional labor.
"...No one is born graceful. It's not a gift, it's a choice."
Authenticity, genius and integrity are in short supply, considering we're still mucking through a system that "rewards" cogs in the machine and thoughtless drones. Sure, we're seeing examples of the revolution popping up all over the place - innovative workplaces and the exaltation of the creative - but the mentality of the industrial revolution is slow to die.
The graceful, the linchpins, fill the niche of this scarcity.
"Scarcity creates value, and the linchpin understands this."
A linchpin also understands that he wasn't created overnight. He made a choice and took affirmative steps, every day, to express grace.
"No one is a genius all the time. The goal is to be a genius once. And then perhaps again.
Stated differently, being valuable once is an incredible advantage over never being valuable at all.
Further on, Godin goes into detail about this new scarcity.
Grace, an umbrella for Generosity, Happiness, Kindness, and Connection is the new ideal. Confronting fear and allowing yourself to experience "the new" (even if you don't particularly delight in it) are ways to nudge yourself out of the drone and towards the music.
"If you're going to grow, you can't insulate yourself from that food you eat or that person you meet or that situation you dive into, because the insulation prevents you from making the change and finding the understanding you set out to achieve in the first place."
Also, if we don't initiate these uncomfortable moments in a quest for growth, we will be overwhelmed with discomfort when the world starts changing around us. We can't ignore anymore that old systems are changing and we should be proud of the fact that we are "bringing it."
"Industry is changing. The race to the bottom is ending, the search for cheaper, cheaper, cheaper is coming to a close. People are having trouble storing all the things they bought last year, and more trouble still finding the money to buy even more. And as a result, consumers (what a great word that is) are realizing that they can't find more pleasure so easily, that buying more stuff might not be the best plan. We've always been lonely - everyone is lonely - but now the loneliness is harder to mask in a life of manipulation (doing what the boss says) and consumption (doing what the marketer says)."
People seek meaning.
So...give it to them.
I've only touched a few points that Godin makes in this short ebook. He packs a punch, that one.
Some of the other topics he discusses are:
Creating a culture of connection
Finding the one-sided coin
The new creativity
I certainly recommend this short ebook for anyone that's interested in Godin's philosophy, his idea of the Linchpin, or an update on where our society is going.
(Small Warning: If you're the type that can't handle typos, steel yourself. Or attempt to accept them in grace. Or kindly ask Godin to recruit one of his followers as a proofreader.)