“Movie directors, or should I say people who create things, are very greedy and they can never be satisfied… That's why they can keep on working. I've been able to work for so long because I think next time, I'll make something good.” – Akira Kurosawa, Born Mar. 23, 1910.
Today, let's talk about defeat. More specifically, the fear of defeat. Of loss. Of making trash and everyone seeing it knowing its trash.
You want to know a secret about humans? Everyone feels that way about the act of creation. Everyone. Every person who thinks “I have an idea” or sees creativity from someone else and thinks “I could do that” – they have the fear.
That's what keeps most people from ever making, building, creating anything.
But the twist is that the successful creatives – the ones who make their living producing work that dazzles, inspires, moves, and transforms audiences? They feel that same fear.
They do. Every. Single. Time.
The difference between the casual and the professional is only that DESPITE the fear, the professional produces ANYWAY.
Because they have to. Because of addiction to the act of creation, or because of obsession with the subject, or because they need the money, or because ego won't let them or whatever.
But it's not a genetic thing. It's a learned thing. You have the fear of defeat, and you just set it over there in the corner and let it watch you work.
It's a choice. It's a way of working that you can learn, and get better at with practice. It never goes away, so you learn to live with it.
And the reality is, you will suck sometimes. And EVEN IF people in your audience LOVE a given work, if YOU think it sucks, you will always think that.
And you use that drive to try harder, or try differently next time. To get closer to your own, probably unreachable satisfaction.
And you produce. Thing after thing, work after work. Eventually you have a body of amazing output that can support the lives of you and your loved ones, regardless of if you're satisfied or not.
But all you need is to hold onto one simple belief to drive your work and banish the fear of failure to his time-out corner for good:
“Next time, I'll make something good.”
And then WORK as though it's true, even if it isn't THIS time. NEXT time, though. And the next. Probably the time after that, too…
Like today’s post? Feeling like a vengeance-fueled samurai ready to take on the whole damn shogunate? Or more like a weak and sad villager who is scared of the big bad bandits? (Or do you not even know what I’m talking about because you haven’t seen any Akira Kurosawa movies?) Regardless, here are a handful of tricks you can use to silence or bypass your inner critic.
1. Get a timer. That’s for your work time, even if it’s sucky work. Get it done. Put in the time. Keep the pipes clear.
2. Publish partial work. Didn’t finish? Put it in front of an audience and tell them more is coming. Use their feedback to improve the next bit.
3. If your inner critic stops you, don’t let it speak with your voice. Give it a stupid voice. Mine sounds like Skeletor from the 80’s He-Man cartoons. A big whiner. I don’t care what he says.
4. Whatever your fears are about what your audience will think, put that into the work. Express your worry and why they would be wrong to think that. Eliminate uncertainty and you can’t fear it.
5. Pick a villain. Find something you are working AGAINST and be savage about it. Give yourself a cause that removes your ego and makes it about fighting the bad and helping the good. Serve your audience. It’s not about you.
6. Consistency. Discipline. Show up and work every day. Post every day. Make offers every day. That’s all there is to do. Your feelings don’t enter into it. In a year, start recycling. Throw away the shitty work and replace it with good. By the third year, you’re posting nothing but refined gold. People will wonder how you can.
7. Optional: pay a bunch of money to go to a rich achiever safe space retreat and listen to them all kvetch about their insecurities. You’ll feel loads better!
That’s it. Let me know what you think? Comment please and thank you.