Wait, That's Not What This Book is About!

by crystal wilson

I made myself a goal this year, inspired by Candice, and it is oh so lofty for someone who has only just re-entered the realm of books that have (almost) no pictures and multisyllabic words. I decided (and told so many people!) that I would finish 52 books in 2018. Audiobooks count. It’s April, and I am on number 9 - not tracking well.  Probably because the first 5 were all about WWII and Canada’s history with Indigenous Peoples so I had to take a LOT of feelings breaks.

The last few weeks I have been trying to plow through some less emotionally intense fare, and have been reading about business and jobs and such. One book in particular that I thought I was reading as an HR resource (an inspirational “not just a job” type read) turned out to be crazy challenging for me as a leader in an impact driven small business. Who knew?  The book is Shake the World” by James Marshall Reilly and here are two of my major takeaways:


Successful Disruption


So here’s a thing I learned while reading this book: I’m kind of  jerk. I have long held the idea that folks who are successful by traditional standards have followed the rules their whole lives, and built their empire on foundations that have proven their strength over time.  They have made safe business decisions. Conversely, I have believed that folks who shake things up, balk the system, and do things differently are destined to be financially comfortable oddballs at best, and would forever be owners of “small and humble” businesses.  According to this book (and, in hindsight, an objective look at the world), people who reach a high level of business success do so by stirring things up, identifying opportunities for change, and then wrangling those opportunities into potentially lucrative action steps that lead them to “the top.”  If you are willing to act as a disruptive force, you will create opportunities - and you can make them as impactful, socially beneficial, and lucrative as your values and personality allow.


Sit at the wrong table

For the most part, I don’t really want to sit at any table.  But in the event that I have to, it’s a safe bet that I will sit at the one where I know the people, or where I know that I belong.  If I’m unsure of where I fit, I will definitely consider just hiding in the bathroom until everyone goes home. As it turns out, this might not be the most effective tactic.  (who knew?!) Putting yourself where you feel you don’t belong or don’t deserve to be is definitely an interesting business move, especially for those who think “I’ll never be invited to that table.  I’m not [fill in the blank] enough.” What this book taught me was that it is perfectly okay to go up and take your seat. Spend time with people who think differently than you, who are in different social / financial circles and you may see an increase if the force of your disruption. Maybe it’s uncomfortable, and maybe you feel like the chess club kid who just sat at the cheerleaders’ table - but that’s ok. You are going places.


So, after reading in this book about the career trajectories of folks like Blake Mycoskie, Tony Hsieh, and Lauren Bush I’ve shifted my thinking.  I am working to change up my thought patterns. I’m moving away from segregation and moving towards collaboration. I’m moving away from seeing confidence as a thing to fear, and towards embracing folks who own it and use it.  I am getting ready to sit at whatever table I want to, and warmly welcome anyone at all to mine. None of these things were really the point of the book, but nonetheless this is what reading it inspired in me.

Us and Them will not shake the world.  We, together, will shake the world.