Updated: 3 days ago
Back in the days when I was running the design course at the University, when some stitched up academic made an outrageous request through our sweet PA (pre VA and COVID days): my response often included some colourful expletives. She always laughed saying that sounds fine out of your mouth but it doesn't translate so well when I say it (with my Australian accent). Bless my mother still reminds me that I sound ‘common’ when I say F*********ck. (F*ck, is a fine if overused stress word that can denote laziness to find a proper adjective for the word or emotion you want to convey or it can be a shortcut to communicate the precise flavour of your message). When people disapprove of us, like all disapprovals it usually says more about them than us, but it could still leave me feeling I had once again crossed to the wrong side of the tracks, into ‘bad girl’ land and my body would quake with the rejection. It could send me into a spiral of negative talk that began with, you're not professional, polished, academic, erudite, to feeling like that 4 year who was told off for some trifling adult misdemeanour. Now, this might sound a tad dramatic but truth is despite a 20+ year creative career and running my own agency working for top brands like Apple and Vodafone I still second-guessed my creativity.
It's a hell of a way to live, tossing your self-esteem about in the stormy waters of self-doubt and self-flagellation. It might make for great work but it robs your same beautiful work of your joy in its making. Everyone appreciates it but you. Sometimes I felt like I was a Nemo in the ocean of my own disapproval, discombobulated and ever looking outwards for acknowledgement that I had not got it wrong. And of course later as I studied metaphysics and shadow work, I realised all creative people are camped out in the deep waters of self doubt. It's the avant garde of protection, the game of sticks and stones. If I call myself all those nasty names before you even think of them, then yours don't hurt so bad. And the truth is you are not for everyone and you're sure as hell not for the disapprovers. If you are popping you're head higher than the others around you, there are going to be those who will want to shoot you down, who will want to keep you in 'your place'.
They'll be offended, just plain disagree, dislike you or be green with envy but that's not enough to stop their muckslinging. We come from long traditions of not trusting difference, of not trusting those who suggest there might be another way, those who question the status quo. 'First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.' Gandhi The path of the leader is to lead. And to lead you have to be a little out front, a little ahead. It calls for courage and some fearlessness (which btw means meeting your fears. It doesn't mean not having any). Leading by design means being intentional about who you have chosen to become. You've made a decision and a commitment to yourself to back yourself. No amount of beating yourself up, doubting yourself and perfectionism is going to save you from the disapproval and the anger of the maddening crowd as you grow taller and strengthen your conviction in your business and life. AH! And the sweetest revenge is success, the knowing that you did it. It's not about doing it right or even getting it right, it's about the process (and I'll be talking about that a lot more in other posts) or the word I like is… adventure.
I mean not long ago you couldn't even have chosen this. If you're a woman you wouldn't have been allowed to. Think Eloise in Bridgerton et al. There's a whole swathe of peeps who aren't comfortable with someone in their power, who seem to be in touch with some magic they themselves can't name or put their finger on. But for everyone of those, there'll be more who are intrigued, curious, inspired and totally in love with you and think …. I want what she's having. . .
‘That. I want that!’ That is the power that comes with unadulterated and undiluted embodied confidence. Leading from the inside out, owning your naughty and nice, your wild and your wisdom. And that can't be bottled it has to be caught. And they'll want to catch it. So what I'm inviting you to consider here is: on the adventure to becoming who you are, it will include many moments of your being totally, absolutely and wildly unbecoming. So could the solution be Practicing being the you, you've decided you will become. Playing with her. Getting curious about her. What would she do? How would she do it? Experimenting being her. Committing to being her until you become her. Remember commitment is the first of the 7 steps to happiness. Be ok with being imperfect, whether it's your business, your brand, your relationships, writing your blog, making your art, your music or dessert. Let it be imperfectly perfect as you make progress. You're going to screw up. You're going to stray off course. You'll do things that are ‘off’ that others may ‘hate’ on you for. But know there is no right or safe way. There's no one way. There is only your way. So I advocate to you: Love up on and approve of YOU. Approve of past you. Present you. And fall deeply in love with perfectly imperfect future YOU. And play it like it's a game, a fun, hot, mysterious game (because that's what it is) and that's how we first stretch, then grow. We try, we edge forward. We win. We try, we mess up, we cry and the more we try the more we discover our unique medicine.