Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Flinch - An Amazing Book You Need to Read

The Flinch - used with permission.
I first learned about Julien Smith through Chris Brogan's blog. I bought their book, Trust Agents, through Audible (at that time I was still into audio books - now I have too many podcasts and audio books on my iPod and will never, in seven lifetimes, listen to them all, sigh). Julien, as I've mentioned before, is the one with the charming French Canadian accent, although he doesn't like my saying so ;-). I started reading his blog and kind of fell in love, although he's way too young for me ;-). If you hop over there (it's linked from his name above), you'll see what I mean. That's OK, I'll wait.

Back already? Isn't he cute? But he's not only cute, he's also got some painfully acute insights to share. I've been jabbering on about the Lizard Brain and the Resistance and all those words I've picked up from Seth Godin. I've been reading Seth's motivational words for years, and sometimes they even get me moving a little bit, but somehow Julien's little eBook, The Flinch, seems to hit that much harder home. Maybe because Seth doesn't usually swear, and Julien does, prolifically. Who knows?

Julien not only talks most eloquently about the flinch, the fear or resistance or lizard brain or whatever we want to call it, and how to conquer it. He concludes each chapter with a frightening homework assignment. Some are not so bad (I can talk to strangers on the street no problem, I'm in Winnipeg, not in Montreal!), but he also suggests dropping your Blackberry on a tiled floor just to experience the freedom. I don't think I'm ready for that just yet. Maybe one day. It did get me thinking about the worst consequences of all the things I seem to be afraid to do. As Julien points out,

Still feel like you’re in danger? Look at it this way. Early man’s lifespan was about 35 years. If you got injured, you were done. No modern medicine, so each encounter meant blood loss, infection, or death. You can’t relate to this. Your lifespan is double that. Science and technology mean you can survive almost anything. It may be expensive to do so, but that’s still a significant improvement over death from an infected cut. 

But despite this safety net, your flinch is still there, in the back of your brain—still a goalie, but a goalie for things that are nowhere near as dangerous as they used to be.

It makes me look at the fears and inertia that keep me from sticking my neck out and applying for work that I might be rejected for (I have a half-completed application at Elance and a half-filled resume at LinkedIn, among other steps I started to take and then shrank back from). I've been acing my tech comm courses at Red River College, why do I think I can't do the work people are offering? I'm sure I'm completely capable. So why am I afraid to throw my hat in the ring? It's the flinch.

The eBook is completely free (does it count as a bestseller if over 75,000 copies have been downloaded from the link above in the past two months?). Read it and come back and tell me what you think. It would be a great discussion, and maybe we can help each other get over ourselves already and get things done.

Oh, and if you get a chance, tell Julien I sent you. I still have a teeny little crush on him ;-).

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