Last week I started to write about how I get my ideas. I also listed a few false ideas we’ve bought into about creativity, such as that creativity has to do only with art, or that you either have it or you don’t.
Today I want to talk about the “F” word. No, not THAT one! The one called Fear. The quote in the photo, written by Joseph Pierce, addresses just this topic. In my opinion, fear is one of the biggest blocks to living a creative life. We fear being wrong, failure, ridicule, embarrassment, not being perfect, being laughed at. I have experienced a lot of it in starting my own business. It was literally paralyzing in the beginning. Prior to that I had put off many of my dreams for years due to various fears, such as not having enough money, not being ready, making a fool of myself, and failing miserably. Never underestimate the power of fear, which can keep you locked in place and unable to take chances or move forward.
Let me tell you a little secret that I have learned. Fear is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. The more you give in to it, the tighter the hold. What you really need to be exercising is your courage muscle. Start with tiny steps. For instance, when I first started my business I took a few small pieces to a tiny Saturday farmers market that the table cost $10. Worst case scenario was that I would sell nothing and be out 10 bucks. I did that a few times then the fear of that went away. Next I added another, slightly larger farmers market on Sundays, and bought myself a little table and an outdoor tent. That was several years ago. Now I have a full color catalogue, I’ve been to the Toronto Gift Show, I sell to 30 stores, and was recently nominated for the Canadian Women Entrepreneur award. And it was all accomplished one baby step at a time.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but were too scared to try? Maybe it’s something small, like going out to dinner or a movie by yourself. By putting yourself in new situations you open yourself up to new experiences, and new ideas! I find going outside my comfort zone opens me up to lots of new possibilities and ways of looking at things.
I’ve also learned that failure is OK. I have failed many times in my business. But each failure takes me closer to success. I have made awful works of art. I have completely ruined countless pieces of glass. I have lost money, embarrassed myself, and had what I thought were great ideas fall on their faces. The key is to accept that this is going to happen, and keep moving forward. Failure helps you weed out the bad ideas and experiences so that you are ready for the good. Not every creative idea is going to be a winner. Wear your failure like a badge of honor. Own it. Be proud of it. Accept it.
I read a few years ago about a writer who received over 500 rejection letters from publishers before finally having something published. Rather than letting the fear of never getting published overwhelm him, and deciding to just give up, he chose to be excited about each letter because it meant he was one step closer to success. He actually papered the wall in his apartment with the letters!
Being afraid is normal, but don’t let it ruin your creativity. Write down all your ideas about whatever it is you are into, no matter how stupid you might think they are. Sometimes that idea can lead to another. And finally, don’t let others rain on your creativity parade. Don’t let their negativity and their own fear transfer onto you. People love to tell you why your idea won’t work, or why your thoughts and dreams are somehow “wrong”. Allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them.