fear and growth – guest blogger
Leslie writes a regular column in Picture magazine and is very active in many creative/creative-business groups and forums, both online and in the real world, including AIGA, Adlist/Adland, APAnet, APA, ASMP, and Editorial Photographers (EP).
I’ve written about fear in one of my Manuals, in other articles, and I talk about it in my ASMP SB2 talks as well as in other lectures I have given. Fear is pervasive in our business. It’s pervasive in all professions and trades. In fact, it is omnipresent–that is we all have it and it is everywhere. Every single person has fear–successful people do, just as less successful ones do. The difference is in how one deals with the fear.
When you are afraid and own up to it, face it, and challenge the fear, you are more likely to be successful. Some call that “courage,” and if that word works for you, then use it. For me, I don’t like that word personally–I prefer to think of it as being afraid but doing it anyway. What it is, whatever you call it, it is taking risks and being open to living with the results.
We do that every day. Every day we take a risk driving (car accidents), playing a sport (Adam Sandler just broke his ankle playing a friendly game of basketball) or even just eating (food poisoning). There’s a risk in taking a shower (you could slip) or taking medication (side effects) and there are big risks in falling in love (a broken heart, humiliation, STIs). And yet we do these things regularly. Why? Because the payoffs are worth it and we know that we can live with the results–even if everything goes to hell in a handbasket and we, in one day, get dumped, eat bad fish, slip in the shower cleaning up after being ill from the fish, and break an arm in the process, the next day we’ll still wake up and life will go on.
In other words, we are one amazingly resilient species.
So it is in business. You can try to play it safe, not take risks, and be like most everyone else who is trying to do the same thing, or you can try something new and risky, but which might pay off in a big way. Even if you “play it safe” there are no guarantees that you will be safe. In fact, it is arguable that in today’s business-world, playing it safe is the riskiest thing you can do as a creative professional.
So let me challenge you with this: Did you become a creative to do what others have already done–to play it safe? No, you have it in your nature to challenge yourself and your audience. You have worked through your fears for years–every time you made an image or some other piece of art you were putting yourself out there. People have told you how crazy you are, how irresponsible, how childish, etc., for years, and yet you have persevered. You already know how to face your fears–you’ve been at it your whole life–now you get to do it again–this time for your business. What an opportunity!
Take the risk–be your whole self and show your true vision. Be passionate. Put yourself out there. Yes, you may fall on your face, but you’ll be truly alive in the process and, more importantly, you can only be great if you try.