Do you ever feel stalled in your creative process? Have you ever experienced a block in your work and productivity? Do you ever wonder if your genius ideas have dried up? Chances are your ego is in the way! Jealousy, envy and pride are incredibly strong and can create a wall to your ability to create because the focus becomes centered around comparison and competition rather than the potential of your offering. When we begin to doubt and question if what we’re creating is “good enough” it halts our ability to explore the limitless nature and endless possibilities of our work.
We stop ourselves because we begin to feel vulnerable. “What if this is a stupid idea?” “What if so and so’s is better than mine?” “What if I make a mistake.” These comparison thoughts and feelings have the potential to create shame and feelings of inadequacy. They are limiting and painful and sometimes have the potential to make us give up. It’s good to remember here that ego and creativity cannot co-exist.
Brené Brown says that “vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” So the question becomes; can we get comfortable with the uncomfortable and sit in the space of vulnerability, draw from our courage and show up anyway? Can we gently accept that vulnerability is present, but set it next to us instead of letting it lead? Can we recognize that being in a place of doubt and fear is a normal part of our creative path, not an indicator we should stop!
I think back to the intimidation of sitting in a room full of brilliant minds at the Harvard Writing and Publishing Conference. Seconds after receiving my name badge and course syllabus, I sat down and thought “what the heck am I doing here!?” Thankfully, the course director Dr. Julie Silver anticipated some of us might be wondering that and opened with an incredibly encouraging series of questions. She asked the audience of healthcare providers “who here could write a book on cancer?” and many hands went up into the air. “Keep your hand up if you can write a book about my story with cancer” and all hands went down. Her point was that each of us have a unique voice and what we are about to offer the world through our writing and publishing process is important because it cannot be replicated by the person sitting next to us.
If we let comparison, competition and ego lead, our creativity and uniqueness will yield.
If we fail to show up in this world, we are not only limiting ourselves, we are limiting our reach and connectability to others as well. If we live from a place of fear and scarcity, allowing vulnerability and shame to shut us down, we close off a world of potential joy and fulfillment. But if we are to do this and live in this way, we must start practicing getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. We must be willing to take a risk. We must be willing to make mistakes and go in and through the ugly, messy parts along the way too. We must harness bravery and quiet the inner critic. We must set aside our ego and step into the process instead of focusing on the product. And finally, we must trust that the richest place to live is from a place of reckless abandon. One that is unattached to the outcome. A place of bold willingness to keep creating even when we’re afraid.