“Get Naked!” (to Learn)

Ten days ago, I was sitting on a hard-backed chair in The Purple Crayon in Hastings-on-Hudson alongside 80 of my fellow ruckus makers. Seth Godin had taken the stage to kick off the weekend.

Toward the end of the night, he asked if we had any questions. My hand immediately shot up, and I asked, “What advice would you give us to get the most out of the weekend?” Without missing a beat, Seth said, “Get naked!”

He explained that we’d get the most out of the weekend if we shared our dreams and fears, allowed ourselves to be vulnerable, and embraced the discomfort that comes with taking on big goals and challenges.

Little did he know that I’d “gotten naked” just that morning. I’d done something he encourages everyone to do – I’d “shipped” a project, that is, a book draft. I’d sent it to my editor, and then I’d reached out to 15 people asking if they’d be willing to provide feedback.

Let me tell you, I was feeling pretty naked. I felt vulnerable, afraid, and uncomfortable on two counts. First, I was asking people to take time out of their very busy lives to read my draft. Second, I was opening myself up to their feedback, good and bad. Scary!

What I was reminded of was how incredibly generous people can be. I asked 15 people and all said, yes. Then these same 15 people read and gave me feedback. Wow! I’m so grateful and so touched that they would do this.

I was also reminded of the fact that it’s never as scary as you think it’ll be to share your work with someone else. In fact, it felt good to get it out there and to hear what people thought as they read it. And, once it was out there, it didn’t feel as precious or as personal. It felt like a piece of work that could stand on its own and only get better with feedback.

During our weekend with Seth, we talked about Amanda Palmer, performer, artist, and author of the recently published book, The Art of Asking. In it, she talks about how afraid we are to ask for help and how much it holds us back. I certainly took that lesson to heart.

If you want to grow, and if you want the work to get better, then, let’s face it, sometimes you gotta get naked.