Review: What to Do When it’s Your Turn: (And it’s Always Your Turn)

Author: Seth Godin

“This is a book about opportunity. The opportunity to take your turn and to make a difference. The opportunity to contribute, to lead and to live your life fully.
The thing is, there’s no easy way to do this. No simple way to quiet the noise in your head, no proven method to earn the respect and applause of your family and friends, no guaranteed approach that’s going to insulate you from heartache.
This might now work.
It might not be fun.
I hope you’ll do it anyway” (pg. 9).


The above quote is from the first pages of Seth Godin’s book. It introduces his book well. In it, he strives to get us to recognize the opportunities that exist now, and that now is the time to take advantage of them.

The book is unique in that it is more magazine-like than book-like & is full of changing, lightly-connected stories, pictures, quotes and teachings.

Ratings (5-star scale)

  • Likelihood of recommending a friend to purchase? 📚📚📚
  • Positive Influence: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Reading difficulty? 🗿
  • How related to business? 🕴️🕴️🕴️🕴️

Two or Three Favorite Things

There were 2 or 3 things in this book that really stuck out to me.

“…The productive artist refuses to incur an artistic obligation. She acts as though the audience doesn’t owe her anything, and forgiving them in advance gives her the freedom to make the work she needs to make.
The flipside, though, is also true. The productive artist must act as if she owes the audience, and in unlimited measure.”
-Seth Godin

Here Seth focuses on how crucial our mindset is on creatively producing high-quality output. If we are focused on what the world or others owe us, we’ll spend a lot of time moping, complaining or worrying when we could be making or doing things. Focusing on our debt to others and the world helps us to see and focus on things that are possible for us to change or improve and to actually start making the world a better place.

Related to owing and not being owed is that of gift-giving. The part about giving back to the world is to give gifts.

“The best gift requires little of the recipient. The giver doesn’t say, “I worked hard to bring you this gift; you must love it, use it, embrace it. You must be grateful to me in recompense for how much I put into this gift. This gift controls you.”
Of course not. The best gift is accompanied by, “here, I made this. Do with is as you will…”
…It’s not your turn to win, or your turn to be picked, or even your turn to be guaranteed gratitude…

I really appreciated this point. Sometimes we try and give gifts with conditions but that no longer makes them gifts. The focus must be on giving something of value because you care; then allowing people to use their agency (free will) to do with as they wish. They may destroy or hate the gift or be ungrateful, but that’s not the point. The point is to be a good giver because you can, not because of the recompense you will receive. To me personally that resonates some Christian themes & teachings (as likely those of other religions) where Jesus teaches people to turn the other cheek & to walk an extra mile. It’s interesting to see the benefits & applicability to

The last favorite item from this book has to do with fear.

“Everyone who runs the marathon gets tired
Yet there are no books called, “How to run without getting tired.” That’s because you can’t.
And everyone who takes their turn gets scared.
So why is everyone always talking about how to do important work, give talks, make a ruckus without the fear? OF COURSE YOU’RE GOING TO BE AFRAID.
The thing is, to finish the marathon all you need to do is find a place to put the tired. Not avoid it, merely put it somewhere.
And the same thing is true for the important work we need to do.

I loved this. When you do something physically difficult, you can take breaks, but you also have to do it sometimes when you are tired. No one expects to run a marathon without ever getting tired (unless they walk the entire thing and muscles will still likely get tired). The same thing happens when you make a contribution or give a gift. You have to be vulnerable and often times deal with fear that comes from exposing your writing/art/code/face/voice/etc. The issue is not having fear, but knowing what you’ll do with it. It simplifies it. You face it and simply handle it like you do with tiredness, and you can get used to it.

Personal Impact

I’d say this book, with it’s multifarious way of expressing the same message over and over had a pretty solid impact on me. Why? It gave me the conviction and nudge I needed to commit to creating this blog. A few years ago I felt I needed to review and mostly Share the books I’ve read. One, because people are always looking for new things to read, and Two, I feel like I have a good breadth & depth of reading that I can provide to others. Personally, the book has left its impact on me. Plus, I learned a lot of little things about people & events I didn’t know.

“The internet means you can learn anything you want, if you are thirsty enough to do the work to learn it. We don’t need badges” (pg. 109).

Final Thoughts

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. My workplace has a library and I checked it out there. I’m tempted to purchase to share with others as it contains a valuable message for people today. Because of the openness of the internet, we all have a platform to share and contribute. That’s Godin’s message in this book. Embrace the fear, and take your turn. And it’s NEVER NOT your turn so take it now as it’s always too early to start.

“Your turn to:
Ship. Speak up. Stand out. Build a following. Market a product. Make a connection. Solve an interesting problem. Write, sing, invent, create, ask a question, launch a product, organize a protest, open the door for someone, question authority, make a short film, direct, produce, create, or adopt. Learn a new skill. Help someone who needs you.
Be missed if you’re gone.

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