Sweaty creatives and why your critics aren’t the ones who count
I don’t have children but I’ve gestated this blog for two years. Two years of thinking about what might be valuable to others. It wasn’t until this past year that I finally figured out it isn’t so much about what anyone needs, as much as it is what I have to share – and how I share it. The only requirement is that I just show up and do my thing.
How many of you hold yourself back? Keep the beautiful, amazing parts of yourself hidden for fear that it won’t be enough, or GASP! you could be criticized? You might share those gifts with a very select few. And that’s okay, but it doesn’t take you as far as you are capable of going in life.
Brené Brown, the author and vulnerability researcher who channels my internal dialog, says, “If you’ve committed to creating in your life, show up and be seen. Know there’s one guarantee. You will get your ass kicked.” I think it’s that ass-kicking that keeps so many of us from creating the life of our dreams. Our internal voice that screams “too risky!” when we want to set off on a whole new path – a path that is more authentic to who we are.
When I need advice on how to move beyond my internal dialog, to get myself motivated and moving again, I turn to Brené and spend some time with her words. Today I found her 2013 Behance 99u conference presentation on how to deal with creative blocks. In this presentation, Brené offers the following insights on how to deal with the creative blocks that live deep inside of us:
- So many of us stifle our creativity to keep ourselves from being vulnerable. We stay in fear that our critics will eat us alive. She warns, “When you armor up for vulnerability, you shut yourself off. Without vulnerability you cannot create.”
- The inappropriate response is to not care what others think. “When we stop caring what people think, we lose our capacity for connection. When we define ourselves by what others think, we lose our capacity to be vulnerable.” (see #1 above) Connecting with others means some will like what you do, and others will not. The appropriate response is to recognize and be okay with the fact that not everyone is going to support what you do. It’s just a fact of life. A fact I think more companies need to embrace – the whole world isn’t your universe of potential customers. Dial it back Mr. CFO.
- Don’t be afraid of your critics. Know them. Talk to them. Tell them, “I see you. I hear you. But I’m going to show up and do this anyway. You are welcome to comment. But I’m not interested in your feedback.” The worst offenders are those who don’t even have the cojones to put themselves in the ring.
- Be okay with falling on your face. Failure is part of success. Hell, it’s the precursor to success. If you’re not failing you’re not showing up. You have to take the position of, “Whether or not it’s successful is irrelevant.” What’s relevant is that you have the courage to put yourself out there.
My creative heroine at the moment is Aelita Andre. At six years old she’s the youngest recognized painter in the world. She painted the image on this post, Night Dance of Fluttering Butterflies. I’m in awe of her and her ability to just create without any preconceived notions of what anyone might want. I aspire to be as free flowing as she.
As a life-conditioned adult, there’s a lot of self-doubt and uncertainty I’ve had to overcome. I used to tell my friends it was easier to market other people and companies than it was my own company. I’m changing that. Welcome to my new world! Welcome to my critics. Thanks to my friend Brené, I’ve reserved a seat for you and know exactly how to respond.