My Thoughts on Urgency and The Medicine Ball Session

I imagine most cyclists pump Skrillex or Sevendust through their headphones during their rides.

Currently, for me it’s a choice between Katy Perry’s new album PRISM or Seth Godin’s Medicine Ball Sessions. I chose the latter today because I can turn on the former when I get to work.

The Medicine Ball Sessions clarified this sense of urgency I’ve been having in the pit of my stomach. At one point, I attributed the urgency to my age and societal pressure and the effects of social media. I thought:

  • At this age I should have more affect on the world
  • I should be ready to start thinking about marriage and family
  • Why is everyone on Facebook having more fun than me?

Not that these emotions and feelings weren’t real.

But they didn’t fully encompass the range of emotions I felt about my work and career.

It’s more nuanced than age

It’s subtler than how fast one can ascend the ladder in an industry.

After listening to Medicine Ball Sessions, I realized the urgency came from the speed at which entire industries rise and fall… so anytime we waste in a career space that isn’t “right” for us is dramatically heightened.

In other words, it’s not so much the race up the ladder, as much as choosing the right ladder to climb.

Here’s the part that resonated with me (transcribed with ease thanks to Transcribe, by wreally):

“The record industry was perfect. There were a lot of reasons. I’ll name a few. If I bought an LP because I liked it a lot, I would wear it out. So I’d have to buy another one.

If I loaned it to her, I don’t have it anymore, so I have to buy another one. If I have to buy another one, I have to get in my car and drive to a store.

In my car, I turn on the radio, the only thing to do in the car, and the radio, is devoted almost entirely to promoting this product, which the record industry doesn’t have to pay for, not legally anyone.

Then I get to the store, which the record industry doesn’t have to pay for, and the store has 100s or thousands of titles all in big containers, vying for my attention. So I might buy more than 1 when I’m there.

Then I get home, and my high school kid is going to the senior prom. The senior prom is not about shoes, it’s not about industrial equipment, it’s about music.

Then, I check my mail, there’s Rolling Stone magazine, all about the music industry. 

Then I turn on MTV, an entire cable network devoted to this perfect industry. Oh, and if you want to start a music career, you need $100K to get into a recording studio because there’s limited means of production, you can’t afford that so you better do a deal with a record company if you want distribution through Tower Records.

You can’t do that by yourself, you better have a record label to do it, and radio, and on and on. The record label gets to keep all that money. 

There’s only six or eight big record labels so it’s an oligopoly, there’s a lot of price-fixing, and its perfect…

Money, money, money. Consistent, planned. Show me the map, I know the artist will change, but the method doesn’t. 

Then you all know what happened. How long did it take? 36 months? For the record industry to go from perfect to broke. 

There’s more music than ever before, performed by more people than ever before, listened to more people than ever before, more widely available than ever before, but the music industry — gone. 3 years, maybe 5, that’s it. Over. That’s what happens. 

Revolutions destroy the perfect, and then they enable the impossible. And it’s going to happen to your industry, whatever you do.” 

What’s the “Right” Industry For You?

We can define “right” many number of ways:

  • Is your education taking drastic jumps every day?
  • Are you surrounded by the best people in your industry?
  • Are you leveraging the most impact you can have at your current level?

What Are the Excuses We Give Not To Leave

They all come back to complacency and comfort. We’re comfortable with:

  • The work required from us on a daily basis
  • Giving 70% of what we’re capable of because that’s enough to get by
  • With a steady paycheck that lands every two weeks, like clockwork

We tell ourselves, why rock the boat? We’ve got a good thing going. I can take my time, because this job and this market isn’t going anywhere.

This is Where We’re Wrong

Just because we’re relevant today doesn’t make us relevant tomorrow.

The record industry proves that just because an industry is perfect yesterday doesn’t mean it won’t be a shell of its former glory tomorrow.

The world changes quickly.

If we’re already not happy with the work we’re doing, things will get worse faster than we think.

If we’re complacent to plod along, moving without urgency, how will we remain relevant in whatever version of the world that exists after the fallout?

If we’re complaining that “no one’s giving us the opportunity to succeed” but we’re not creating our own opportunities… well, why should they?

Photo Credit: serakatie

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