“People see everything through the lens of their obsessions.” — Francine Prose
The above quote I lifted from the Web site of Julie Bifano, a talented Santa Barbara writer. It’s quite apropos as people often compulsively obsess about their creative projects. They fall in love with their ideas. They dream about them, talk about them, intend to do them, but so often don’t. What stops them? Fear.
Years ago I was in a cafeteria line at C.F. Braun & Co., an engineering firm, and asked the woman serving food to please give me the mashed potatoes instead of rice. A simple request — I thought. I watched her struggle to move her arm in the direction of the potatoes. She couldn’t do it. Maybe she was thinking that Big Brother was watching as she attempted to break a cardinal rule. I was in awe. She was frozen and too fearful to take even a small risk of doing something differently.
Creativity asks that you take risks. It puts you in the driver’s seat yet demands that you let go of control. It seduces you to the edge of the known then asks you to jump. It tempts you with fame as you trip upon rejection. It lures you out of your comfort zone over and over.
And let’s face it; what usually accompanies you is an uncomfortable level of fear. But fear does not have the power to stop you from taking creative risks.
Steven Pressfield, a prolific champion of the creative process, says in his book The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, “Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
Susan Jeffers, Ph.D., author of Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, writes, “So many of us short-circuit our living by choosing the path that is most comfortable. Realize that fear will never go away as long as you continue to grow. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.”
She adds that by acting you can reach the space within each and every one of us that is filled with nourishing qualities such as joy, intuition, peace, power, love — where all is well. That is the place from which to ultimately live your life. And each time you fall back into fear you will know how to go back to the higher aspect of your being a little faster each time.
Robert Maurer, Ph.D., calls it “an awareness and respect for fear — a willingness to feel it and to reach for comfort. Successful people use it all the time. It’s a built-in nurturing voice that automatically and compassionately reassures them it’s OK to make mistakes, OK to be afraid, OK to ask for help.”
What do you need to do? Does it feel beyond the scope of your abilities or comfort zone? Then jump. Take a risk and feel your way through the dark. That simply means that you’re at the beginning — in the dark earth where the seed of dreams begin to grow.
What’s the alternative? To wonder the rest of your life if you should have? The world right now is looking for risk takers, dreamers, innovators, inventors, boundary-pounders — those who are willing to break down the walls of adversity and lead us into a better world.
Are you willing to help?