FACING UP TO FEAR, UNCERTAINTY AND DOUBT
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”
~ MARK TWAIN
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Shamefully, this blog has been dormant for several weeks — breeding dust bunnies by the score while I’m sure the few regular visitors simply deleted another blog from their reading list. A passionate plunge into inspirational design finds and a few months of consistent daily posts… Suddenly. Just. Stopped. (Insert the sound of summer peepers here). What happened?
A lot, actually.
In addition to managing a heavy project load, interviewing with new clients and prepping for a vacation, I also decided to address the wild hair that’s been poking at me since the start of 2010. Wanting to make an investment in my studio’s brand, I began researching professional advice on the use of social media for building my business. I hired the best consultant I could find and looked forward to being instantly molded into social media gold.
*Sigh* Good intentions… road to Hell.
What really took place is the reason for this blog’s sudden silence — many weeks of introspection overflowing two jam-packed sessions with a velvet hammer wielding, intensely savvy and warm-hearted woman.* Much of her guidance was toward quick tweaks and longer term overhauls of my current online presence, some things I already knew (but lazily wasn’t acting upon), and other points I didn’t. By reading between the lines of what I thought I wanted, she skillfully uncovered what I truly needed to do — delivering advice that picked at sealed edges and swirled around the crazy aspirations that nest deep within me.
In brief detail, the greatest suggested challenges set before me are to:
1) Commit to shifting the focus and online presentation of my design studio offering (OK… a bit of a lengthy checklist, but certainly doable in time.)
2) Begin generating original content for this blog. (UGH!)
You’re probably thinking, “generate original content, isn’t that what almost every “How to Write a Blog” article suggests?!” Yeah, yeah, I know. But when a professional firmly recommends that you quit hiding behind the work of others and put your expertise out there, IN YOUR OWN WORDS, there’s a little gravity behind it.
And again, UGH! The last thing I wrote of any length was a project proposal, and who really reads those? Between the thought of authoring content for all the internet to see AND making an official foray into a different design discipline… . Well, so began a month of the F.U.D.s — the fear, uncertainty and doubt that start circling whenever I head off in untried directions.
As a graphic designer dealing with everything from identities to brand strategies, I’ve built a steady business on the ability to create something out of nothing. I mean, I start from a freakin’ blank page almost every day. You would think that after 20 professional years, tackling a new endeavor would be relatively easy. But, what I’ve come to realize is that when said new direction involves an a rusty skill set, or worse yet, SOMETHING I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO, I sink into an ocean of self-reflection and those nasty F.U.D.s are at me like sharks on chum.
Really, I think everyone who creates is tormented by these anxieties — designers, business people, artists, thinkers, musicians, writers, performers, speakers, strategists — they all have fear drenched moments when they think, “What the Hell am I doing? I have no idea how to do this. What if this time, I just can’t do it?”
Offering a solution, the great Seth Godin, Author, Entrepreneur, Speaker, and Marketing Mastermind, writes:
“The lizard brain—that prehistoric brainstem that all of us must contend with—doesn’t like being laughed at. It’s the part of our brain that worries about safety and dishes out anger. Being laughed at is the lizard brain’s worst nightmare. And so it shuts down our art. …
What artists over time have figured out is that the resistance is the sole barrier between today and their art. That the act of genius required to produce original and important work is crippled by the resistance, and ignoring the voice of skepticism is critical in doing the work.
And so, we acknowledge it. We stand up and we hear the voice of the lizard brain and we recognize that it’s there and then we walk to the podium and do the work. We acknowledge the lizard so we can ignore it.”
There have been a number of times in my life when I’ve found the guts to ignore my own lizard brain and taken a running leap from some formidable (albeit metaphorical) cliff — moving from a small country to the US, starting my own business with minimal savings or client prospects, ending a long-term but unhealthy relationship. Each time there has been a previously unseen net of support flung my way, and from every risk has come amazing opportunity. Now I find myself in a similar circumstance, about to make yet another jump.
I’ve learned that when you stand on a precipice, you need to remind yourself that while the known seems secure and safe, it offers only fleeting satisfaction. Staying with the everyday, “Oh, I know how to do this” situations may feel stable, but the predictable, well-worn road is an expressway to stagnancy and mediocrity. It is on the unexplored path that you will find true growth — that sticky, itchy and oftentimes searingly painful sensation that precedes the birth of something great.
So, here goes! Time to jump — rather, time to write, get passionate about design, share my strategic secrets, lead, inspire, and be inspired.
Friends, be with me. Fates, be kind. F.U.D.s, be damned.
*BTW, anyone toying with the decision to enlist the talents of the fabulous Gwen Bell should quit stalling and just DO IT. Best business investment EVER. Stick around and you’ll witness my online evolution (big plans ahead!), all due to a well-crafted action plan and much deserved kick in the caboose from this incredible lady. Thank you, Gwen!