Effortful Living: Seth Godin on Effort and Luck

Seth Godin has written a nice piece on “effort” and “luck” entitled, “Is Effort a Myth?”. In this article he opens up the popular misperception that a great life comes through luck and not effort. I think (and perhaps Godin would agree with me), that a great life can be built through an awareness of the “lucky” moments that support us coupled with mindful disciplined doses of effort. For Godin, the popular perception of success through luck is misleading us.

Godin writes, “And that’s the key to the paradox of effort: While luck may be more appealing than effort, you don’t get to choose luck. Effort, on the other hand, is totally available, all the time.” In our daily lives we are perpetually lucky. You are here now reading this and lucky to be alive to be able to do so. You are being supported in countless ways throughout the day. Perhaps you are already aware of this or maybe you have forgotten it. Either way, luck abounds in our life, as we maneuver our way to work, back home, to the store and so on. Meanwhile, effort and effortful living, demand action and is not as easy as a reliance on “being lucky.”

Effortful living is a choice and, as Godin says, “is totally available, all the time.” There is a great difference between floating through your work day as a mere cog in the system, and owning up to doing what you need to do or doing what you would do through effort. Sometimes, “the path of most resistance,” although the only path that will get us where we need to go, is pushed aside in favor of “taking it easy” or simply dooming our potential by “not caring.”

Godin, in his article, has written a four point “Effort Diet”, which I recommend you pay attention to and enact. He also encourages readers to make their own “diet.” Transformation in one’s life is possible through changing what one does, by developing new habits. Nonetheless, making the plan is one thing, but effortfully enacting it and living through it is immensely difficult. It is the “difficulty” of this purposeful and effortful way of living that make it worth so much more than aimlessly drifting through your day. However, as Godin writes, “This is a hard sell. Diet books that say, “eat less, exercise more,” may work, but they don’t sell many copies.”

Here, are my four additions to Godin’s “effort diet.”

1. Learn a new word everyday for one month and use it in conversations or in your writings. See how the words that you use influence the way that you think about and experience the world.
2. Control your speech and your self-talk. Observe how caught up you are in how you imagine yourself to be.
3. Thank all of the objects and people that are in your life. Treat these objects and people with the utmost respect. If it wasn’t for them, you wouldn’t be who you are.
4. For one week, go to work in the frame of mind that what you do greatly impacts not only the organization, but your own ways of being in that organization. This may include working in a way that you haven’t worked before.

On that note, I would like to share with you an aphorism by my friend and mentor, Dr. Corey Anton author of Selfhood and Authenticity:

“Worry About it After You’ve Started: So many people want to fix their lives but don’t know where to start, so they don’t.”

Thank you for your attention.

Please feel free to add to this list or, as Godin suggests, make your own list and, more importantly, enact it, live it, be it.

If you liked this article, you may also be interested in:

Actualizing: A Constructive Living Approach
Constructive Living: Unpublished Texts Series #1
Constructive Living: Unpublished Texts Series #2
While the Coffee Brews: Five Morning Fragments
Living Constructively: Effort
Constructive Living as Lifehack Strategy
To Be That Self Which One Truly Is: Carl Rogers

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2 thoughts on “Effortful Living: Seth Godin on Effort and Luck

  1. Pingback: 20 Mindfulness Exercises for Improving Your Mental Hygiene « The Eyeslit-Crypt

  2. E.R. Gibson

    Thanks for pointing out this work by Seth Godin. I was familiar with some of his books (such as “Tribes” and another called “the Dip”). Thanks for the thought that intention effort is something we have control over – whereas, luck is not!

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