Take a deep breath and maybe get a jock strap…

Okay, here it is.  My really late response to the whole Seth Godin debacle back in January.  I know I’m late on this.  Really late.  I was getting married…I had important things to deal with.  There were pew bows to made and rehearsal dinners to be planned.

I’m not trying to start an old fight.  I just keep thinking about the way we responded to Seth Godin’s post – because it’s an analogy for how we deal with a lot of things in our profession and it’s a weakness we need to work on.  Actually, it’s not just us – with the exception of most Buddhists, we all need to work on this.

When I was a fencing coach, all of the guys on the fencing team decided that they were going to toss their jock straps and um…go free style.  So I’d yell “you’re gonna regret that!” and they’d say “no, it’s fine!  don’t worry!”.  And then it would happen…the opponent would miss their target.  Ahem.  And the jock straps would come back out.  And they’d keep on fencing and that was that.

Seth Godin is the foil (metaphorically and in actuality).   We’re the fencers.  The jock strap is – well, the jock strap is that space we give ourselves when we see or hear something that pisses us off about our profession.  I heavily identify with being a librarian and I get upset when I feel my job is being jeopardized.  Seth’s comments, upsetting.  But did we handle it the right way? I can’t help but say no.

I’ve read a lot of the blog responses people posted.  Some are fair, some are really heavy hitters.

I wish we had stopped for a moment before we got so defensive.  There was so much opportunity there.  We had one of the world’s most popular bloggers and foremost marketing experts talking about us.  It wasn’t flattering, but then again, that’s not Seth Godin’s job.  His job is to be a visionary.  Visionaries sometimes say very extreme things – things that cause people to stir and take action.  The things said might not be 100% accurate (I don’t think Seth’s were, but that’s my perogative) but the point is to cause a bit of a stir and cause pause to determine if what is said is valid.

What I like about the responses I read were that they reflected that what Seth Godin said caused us all to pause and take stock – even if just momentarily.  The problem was that people became angry and defensive.  The ideal would have been to ask Seth Godin if he’d want to talk more about his viewpoint – what a great interview that would have been for the President of ALA to do!

Anyways, here’s what I’m saying – we need to take a breath.  Our initial reactions are sometimes wrong.  And there is opportunity in places we’d never think about.


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