Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Seth Godin has this to say about the limiting qualities of fear:

"Fear of failure is actually overrated as an excuse. Why? Because if you work for someone, then more often than not, the actual cost of the failure is absorbed by the organization, not you. If your product launch fails, they’re not going to fire you. The company will make a bit less money and will move on.
What people are afraid of isn’t failure. It’s blame. Criticism.
We don’t choose to be remarkable because we’re worried about criticism. We hesitate to create innovative movies, launch new human resource initiatives, design a menu that makes diners take notice or give an audacious sermon because we’re worried, deep down, that someone will hate it and call us on it.
“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!” “What a waste of money.” “Who’s responsible for this?”
Sometimes, the criticism doesn’t even have to be that obvious. The fear of, “I’m surprised you launched this without doing more research…” is enough to get many people to do a lot more research, to study something to death and then kill it. Hey, at least you didn’t get criticized."

I think we all understand deeply the paralysis that is created by that kind of fear. As artists, writers, business people, human beings even - we all have felt that sinking feeling of not being liked.

So how do e move past that feeling, to a place where we can be creative and remarkable? One of my very wise friends (also an artist) told me to play.

He said "when a child is playing in the sandbox, do they worry whether the sandbox likes what they are doing?"

Play is very creative. You use your imagination and also turn off that destructive little voice inside that says you don't measure up. This combination of letting yourself go and turning off your inner critic is the best environment for becoming remarkable, or realizing your inner artist.

So be a kid. Play in the sandbox.

In fact, that has become my new "mantra" ever since my friend gave me those words of advice. When my fear of criticism rears its ugly head I think to myself "sandbox" and allow myself to play.


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