Insights- What To Do When It’s Your Turn (and its always your turn)- Notes from the Book

15th February 2023

Posted in: Insights

Seth Godin’s “What to do when its your turn (and its always your turn)” is a colourful and creative take on mindset, facing our fears, embracing failure and stepping up to get stuff done.


My key takeaways and quotes from the book:


“It’s your turn , it’s always your turn and understanding that once you see opportunity, it’s yours”


Broken Escalator theory.- people on an escalator that stops – will sit and wait for help rather than take the walk up the stairs   – Stairs are not as automatic and convenient as the escalator but they beat being stuck.


Opportunity is freedom-  your problem is also freedom

Freedom brings the appearance of risk, responsibility- we must make a choice.


Stupidity is just the pre learning state, the emotion associated with learning. We are stupid and then we are not. We are supposed to have fear of being stupid as it helps us get it over as soon as possible.


The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing.


A bird in search of a cage- we often crave a place we are safe from obligation, or opportunity to chose ie a cage.


Intention- “the pilot does not only work to make the flight safe when the supervisor is watching”. 


Taking your turn, not being given your turn.


Four steps – We fail to notice because we are busy keeping busy, we fail to dream because that means we must take risk, we fail to connect because we might be rejected. We fail to do because of the above.


Don’t need motivation, we need to see cultural and economic shift and realise it’s our turn, to develop a habit of showing up.


The person who fails the most wins.


Our need for motivation is due for need for reassurance.


Do what you should do. Your mood will follow.


When work becomes personal it becomes more difficult because we may fear the outcome – which may lead us to depersonalise our work.

If we can live with failure we are more likely to avoid it because we can approach it professionally and bring full intent.


People invited to Solvat ended up 17 of them won a Nobel prize – most after this. People like us do things like this.

Pg 71 image.



Andre Agassi.

A win doesn’t feel as good as a loss does bad.


I had no choice – not my fault – but we always have a choice


When is the right time?   There’s always a reason for it not to be the right time- so act now.


Furious v fierce

Fierce is ability to sacrifice ego, it takes honesty and commitment, telling truth about what’s at stake, and what’s possible – simultaneous certainty that this is vitally important and this might not work.


Your mood or anxiety are like clouds in front of moon – they are there but it doesn’t change the fact that the moon is still there. Moritz theory states that our emotions are like the weather. they clouds are there but have nothing to do with the need to do work and shouldn’t stop us from doing so.


If you care enough to risk failure, choose to do exceptional work.

If you care enough to do exceptional work, choose to risk failure.


We invent the constraints that prevent us from seeking freedom. But if the make us unhappy or ineffective why do we not invent something else.

We each have a different list, and it may be different than what it was a year or even a month ago.


When was the last time you did something for the first time.


No body owes you anything – Obligation is not a two way street – the feeling of being owed is toxic – and eventually someone will let us down.


  • Social obligation – societal norms we live by without expectation of return Eg hold door open for the next person.
  • Moral obligation – societal norms which have evolved over time Eg take care of family – those that don’t comply we ostracize
  • Legal obligation – norms those we have written down and created consequences for Eg contracts
  • Artistic obligation – what we do when we encounter art, ie do we applaud, buy something OR nothing at all.

The artist can expect nothing- we need to be like this.

We make things better than they need to be. Not because we expect to be repaid, or because the market deserves it or even its part of the bargain, no, only because we can.


Be thirsty – The best students show up and say teach me – they look at failure and confusion as temporary conditions


Hot wash – the process of talking about what we can do better after an event – whether we have succeeded or not.


Wizard of Oz- Dorothy decides the mission is more important than fear


Everyone who runs a marathon gets tired = everyone who takes there turn gets scared.

Like a runner you need to find a place to put the tired — same thing is true of the important work we do- we need to find a place to put the fear.


Being needed is an opportunity to contribute and make a difference. Needing gives away our authority and freedom.


Yes offends our need to play it safe, be picked and work on other more urgent work



Lucky people are

  • Skilled at creating and noticing opportunities
  • Make decisions by listening to intuition
  • Create self fulfilling prophecies by positive expectations
  • Adopt a resilient attitude that turns luck into good

You can learn to be lucky


What are you given, v what have you chosen.


Mediocrity feels safe and easy… until it’s not.


Either you are a creator or an audience


Taking your turn in an organisation

  • Give credit to others
  • Take blame / responsibility
  • Don’t just listen  – give ideas instead
  • Perfectionism – what is enough?
  • Steal ideas – reshuffle and recombine
  • Ship – put it in front of someone
  • Change things quietly and avoid the no people
  • Build bridges instead of burning them
  • Teaching others rewards all



Author: Donna Bruce