Monday, October 22, 2007

Which Voice are You Listening To?

Remember the image from childhood of the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other. You are being encourage to be good by the angel, and to get into some trouble by the devil. As we grow older, I think the devil and angel...or the voices of good and evil,...get replaced by the voices of doubt on one hand, and trust on the other.

As we look at facing new challenges in our business, the voices might start engaging in debate. The voice of trust, believes in our abilities, and our readiness. It trusts our desire to take that step, and move forward to a new level. The voice of doubt on the other hand, is the one that we also may hear from those around us. "What if you bomb?" "You're not ready yet!" "That is for people who are more talented/experienced/prepared (pick your qualification) than you are."

Doubt may be based partly in reality. We may truly not be fully prepared yet. But our desire and trust in our ability, on the other hand, may be right as well. We may want it, and have the skills to acheive it. But we may not be completely ready yet. And yet, we may be as ready as we will ever get until we make the commitment to take on the challenge. Once that commitment has been made, we may finally take the actions we have been delaying to fill in the gaps. The emotions of doubt can start to overwhelm us though. What we lack in experience or otherwise will suddenly loom much larger than it may need to.

I have often taken that leap of faith, and then started to question my sanity. "What was I thinking?" But I have usually been able to channel this fear into preparation. Learning what I need to know, and doing the work I need to do so that I can be prepared. Letting the fear take over can freeze us into inaction. We end up under prepared, meeting our expectations of failure. We might be left saying, "I'll never do that again." We start to stay safe. We limit how far we stretch ourself. We lose that limberness and strength that we get when we go outside our comfort zone. It can start to translate into our work. Our work stops evolving because, "What if they don't like it?" Fear starts to creep into every opportunity, and we are left frozen in place. What if we no longer like what we are doing, but we are afraid to move?

I often espouse taking baby steps. But sometimes we need to make the leap across the canyon. We need to commit even when we are not 100% convinced that we are ready. Then, once we have commited, it is back to taking the steps, one by one, to be prepared for when we need to perform....introducing a new line, doing a show that is a stretch from what we have done before, approaching a new gallery, putting together a press kit, entering a contest. You name the goal. The thing that you want to do, but you are not sure if you are ready yet. But you are also not sure how you will know when you are ready.

Maybe, when you make the leap, the outcome won't meet your grandest hopes and ambitions. But maybe, you will be in a better place than where you were before you took the chance. And you will have learned valuable lessons, and built your confidence to try something else new and a bit scary.

This is how growth happens. Growth in our business. Growth in us as individuals. Leaps of faith that are both exhilerating and scary. It doesn't matter how old you are, or how long you have been doing something. There is always a new goal, a new challenge to be met. Will you let yourself take the leap of faith? Or will you stand on the side. Waiting for a sign. A big, bold, neon sign that is so clear and unmistakeable that you couldn't possibly be wrong this time. You might have a long, long wait if you need a sign that clear.

Take the time to consider any such decision fully. But if you have the desire, and believe that with some manageable amount of work you can meet the challenge, it may be the right time to leap into the new and unknown.

1 comment:

Barbara J Carter said...

Brilliant post, Judy! This is exactly how it works for me, committing to things that are a bit of a stretch for me. It forces me to constantly learn and grow.

Art is good for this, because there's always a bigger show, a new gallery, or other higher goals to reach for. Museums? International shows? The sky's the limit!

Barbara J Carter