Creative Failure

Ally wrote a brilliant piece on why creative people don’t succeed — at least as much as they should succeed.

On the surface, it doesn’t seem to make sense. You’d think that creative people are the ones with the ideas and the ability to carry out those ideas.

Whether it be writing, designing, podcasting — or any other medium — those are the types of folks that could easily knock it out of the park.

She goes on to say something that I resonate with:

What’s stopping incredibly smart, creative people from becoming as successful as they hope to be — and can be — is their own mindset.

Ok, so resonate is a pretty deep understatement, because for me there’s a significant amount of truth in what she says. I am definitely my biggest roadblock — and it’s me who gets in the way of being great.

In other words, I suffer from imposter syndrome big time. It all boils down to a lack of confidence that I am what I say I am.

Thankfully Sonia reminds me I’m not alone:

In my experience, there’s no amount of self-talk or “I can do it!” self-motivation that will really do much for the problem.

And then she says something I needed to hear:

Your authority comes from your audience, from how you help that audience get something they want.

As my friend and colleague Pamela often says, “We focus too much on pushing ourselves on others and should focus more on pulling others in.”

Some really smart words there — and advice I intend to follow.

Brilliant Business Models

Eight years ago I left my desk job and entered the world of online entrepreneurship. There have been many ups and downs since that journey started, but one thing has remained the same.

I am fascinated with, and love meeting, the friends that I have made online. Some of them have become really close friends.

A couple of weeks ago Allison and I talked about online personas, and one of the people we discussed was Erin Loechner.

I came across Erin and her work when I was surfing the internet looking for design inspiration. When I landed on her site I fell in love with it.

Then I spent some time reading through her blog, which is filled with authenticity and being real — for that reason alone it instantly became a “must read” — then I landed on her Work With Erin page.

Let’s start with the fact that she has over a million fans. If you dig a little deeper, you will see they are spread out over a number of social media platforms — Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.

She also offers a variety of services such as writing, speaking and creating.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out her business model. It’s clear as day, and in my opinion, is brilliant. So take notes on this, m’kay?

Follow your passion. Build an audience. Sell access to yourself.

Being Great

I’ve been struggling a bit of late with my ability to focus. Whether it be design, writing, podcasting — all areas of my work life have been running inefficiently and it’s something I haven’t been able to figure out why.

The ideas in my head flow like an endless river, but finding the time to execute on any of them has always been my achilles heel.

Yesterday I had a revelation, and I think I’ve been finally able to put my finger on (at the very least a contributing factor to said struggles) why things have gone in this direction.

Here’s what I thought, and also what I shared on social media:

I think the more I focus on being great, the less I succeed at being good.

Think about that for minute, will you? Sit on it, and ponder the truth in that statement before you make any judgements about me.

We all strive for excellence, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But in my eyes, 95% effort towards it, in my opinion, is 5% short. I think the focus should be on the former of what I tweeted, rather than the latter.

The pressure to be great is — well, so great that it cripples us — injects us with expectations that are typically unrealistic.

We spin our wheels trying to write that epic post. But we have a tendency to measure ourselves up so inadequately to those we admire — so much that, in the end, we don’t write anything.

This is something I’ve realized about myself that needs to change. I’m slowly learning that I cannot be great at everything — and thinking I can be — is merely a setup for self-doubt and failure.

It’s ok to focus on being great, but not at the expense of being good. The saying goes, “Inch by inch it’s such a cinch. Yard by yard it’s awfully hard.”

You can’t reach the summit unless you start at the base of the mountain.

Unfollowing People

I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter and it’s not because I dislike the platform. In fact, I really enjoy engaging with those who follow me and talking about things that do (and often) don’t matter.

The problem I have is that at times I feel prisoner to the people I follow — and it’s something that really bothers me.

A couple of times over the past year I have tweeted this:

Don’t follow people because you are afraid to unfollow them.

I know. Do as I say, not as I do. Right?

You have every reason in the world to call me out on my fraudulent ways when it comes to Twitter. I’ll understand, because I’m guilty of it.

Though I will admit recently I went on an unfollow binge, where I pushed the button on nearly 25% of the folks that I was following — and it felt really good. Cleansing, as a matter of fact.

I was amazed how many people I had been following just because. I had to be honest and asked “Is there a real reason I’m following this person?”

It didn’t take long to realize how many of them I said “no” to, and that started the snowball once I understood that answer meant something.

The follow up question I had if there was someone I wasn’t sure about was “When was the last time you tweeted at them or they tweeted at you?”

And the silence was deafening.

It was time. Time to grow a pair and start pruning the list, so that my energy on Twitter was used efficiently, rather than scrolling past all of the statuses I know deep down in my heart I’m not that interested in.

I challenge you to take some time to go through the list of people you follow and push the button. Even if that means unfollowing me.

Consider this permission.

Internet Addiction

A few years ago Russell Brand published a brutally authentic post on The Guardian called My Life Without Drugs.

There’s a particular thing he said that I’ve never been able to shake from my memory and I’m fairly positive I know exactly why that is.

Drugs and alcohol are not my problem, reality is my problem, drugs and alcohol are my solution.

I have so many reactions that I want to share about what he wrote — some shocking, some embarrassing — most of which you might judge me on.

Russell’s authenticity is set from the start, as he opens up immediately:

The last time I thought about taking heroin was yesterday.

I don’t know about you, but I formulated an opinion on him and his character fairly quickly. But it didn’t take long for me to realize I was calling the kettle black.

It’s easy to look at what he said at face value, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t the very least bit convicted. I struggle with a number of things, and my drug of choice isn’t the same as his — for me, it’s the internet.

Every minute of every day I feel the need to inject myself with time online. Whether it be email, social media or simply whatever “fix” I can get.

If I’m away from the computer, I go through withdrawal. I find excuses like running upstairs or going to the bathroom to check in. Thankfully, this ubiquitous issue we have has a way of being controlled.

Nonetheless, I need to accept that my identity away from the internet is sometimes a stranger to me — and that it’s critical I recapture who I am.

Because, in the moment, I’m currently living with this truth:

The internet is not my problem, reality is my problem, and the internet is my solution.

So for now, I’m going to lay down my stone and cut Russell some slack. Because he understands, and is doing the same for me.