In Linchpin, Godin refers to “Ship” or “Shipping” as the action we take when we embrace our art energetically and “sprint,” or focus all of our effort on the art until we achieve our intended goal.

How do we know when it’s time to ship?
First, we need to ensure that we’ve silenced the resistance (or lizard brain) and selected the right art to ship. Let’s stop here. Are you asking yourself, “What do you mean the ‘right art’? We have more than one?” Absolutely. Take Godin’s example, here:

“Van Gogh wasn’t wired to paint. Paint was the medium available to him at the time. If he had lived today, perhaps he would have marketed organic tofu. It’s not predetermined that you’ll hold a paintbrush or write a symphony. That means you have to choose your art. It’s not preordained; there isn’t only one art for you…If you pick something that’s beneath you, then the resistance will win. Trivial art isn’t worth the trouble it takes to produce it…If it’s not, dream bigger.”

Remember that our lizard brain wants to distract us. It wants us to be workaholics who fill our hours with meaningless, busy work. When the lizard brain is at hand we choose bad ideas or trivial art, and either our feelings of anxiety or insignificance get the best of us.
Godin uses his own personal examples to show us how to SHIP. He shares,

“Am I some sort of prodigy? I don’t think so. I ship. I don’t get in the way of the muse, I fight the resistance, and I ship. I do this by not doing an enormous number of tasks that are perfect stalling devices, ideal ways of introducing the resistance into our lives.”

Here’s an easy-to-follow synopsis of his process for Shipping with a solid platform (with a nautical theme for fun!):

1. Choose your Destination (or art: project, idea, event, etc.). Make sure it is not trivial, but energizes you, inspires you, and brings out the artist in you.

a. Can’t find that inspiration? Give yourself 30 minutes to come up with 10 ideas! This type of brainstorming session quiets the lizard and enables us to sprint for a short period and connect with inspiration. I tried this yesterday. I focused on one topic—coaching, and within 10 SECONDS I came up with a great idea that I plan to put through this process.

2. Select your Ship Date and post it up on a wall where you see it daily. This is your non-negotiable launch date.
3. Go Fish. Fishing will definitely be a part of your journey. Use your preferred method to capture all of your ideas (index cards, journal, word doc, etc.)
4. Create Motion in the Ocean. Review what you’ve captured, and capture more (when you think you’ve brainstormed enough…do more of it!)
5. Map your Trip. What are the coordinates that will get you to your destination? This is when you take what you’ve captured and create your map (timeline, resources, business plan, etc.).
6. Round up your Crew. A ship does not endure with just its captain. It needs a solid crew. Gather those who can approve, cancel, suggest, own (investors) and who care about your Destination. Review your map with them. Make any changes to your plans based on their feedback.
7. Ship. Here’s the key, though. Only ship when you get the “YES” from your crew. Are they in or out? They are your platform and you need them in order to reach your destination.

So now that you’ve shipped, how do ensure you succeed? Godin offers the regimen of Leo Babauta, author of Zen Habits, which looks like this:

1. Attempt only one significant work a year.
2. Break it into smaller projects.
3. Find three tasks to accomplish each day that get you closer to completion.
4. Do these in less than one hour each day (focused work, or “sprinting”).

Today, take some time to ponder what your days are filled with. Are you being an artist today (or tomorrow, or the next day)? If your days happened to be filled with meaningless “cog” work, and you find yourself just “looking busy,” consider shaking things up. The lizard is definitely at play and is happy you are not tapping into your inner artist.
Do yourself a favor. Locate your destination. Chart your course. Be your own captain. Do it today.


My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.