a work in progress
Confidence is a strange beast – especially when you are a creative soul!
Now, most people who know me wouldn’t consider me lacking in confidence, but I am going to let you into a little secret – I am a very good actor!
Yes, it’s true. I am very much in the “fake it till you make it” camp and have been for a long long time. Interestingly, there have been two events in my life recently that have highlighted this to me and made me stop and think.
The first thing was helping my son at school with a project – as you know things have been pretty busy in my camp recently, so it was a long-overdue trip into school to give him a hand. And what I discovered was a complete mirror of myself – a young person who really had no idea what he was doing, or what to do next, but unable to ask for help for fear of being seen as inadequate or (and I hate the word) stupid. Oh, how I recognised that face, that nod of the head, that glance of desperation in the eyes…and as I was telling him that it’s a strength to ask for help, not a weakness, really I was offering that wisdom to myself!
The second thing that really got me thinking about this mask that I often wear was attending both the Christchurch Art Show and the NZ Gift Fair Trade Show last week. As long as I can remember, I have wanted to be an artist – have built this jewellery business as if I were an artist – but deep down in my brain (notice I say brain, not soul or heart – I will get to that), I was telling myself that I am not an artist – yet!
So along I go, full of the bravado that I saw in my own son, with the “I know what I am doing and I am NOT an impostor in this environment” mantra playing out in my head on repeat. I started setting up my display of jewellery at the Art Show – knowing full well that it is “out there” and “different”, all the while watching the “real” artists set up their work – the doubts bubbled up.
Opening night gala – holy crap! There were hundreds of people flooding through the doors – thousands even. All looking for Art – the real-deal Art – the kind of art that arrests your heart, whispers (or yells) to your soul, challenges the deeply held beliefs you have in your mind. What the hell was I doing in this place? Put on that mask, put your shoulders back, tell yourself whatever you need to and get through it.
Then, miracle of miracles, a gorgeous woman sidles up to me and whispers “crap, I am so nervous…there are all these amazing artists here; what if I don’t sell anything? What if no-one likes my work?” I looked at her, and saw that same fear I had in her eyes. I looked past her at the work she had on display – OMG…work that I would buy in a heartbeat. And I realised something very fundamental.
We are all afraid.
We are all wearing a mask
We are all walking the line between our hearts and our minds
So along I go to my very first Trade Show, the NZ Gift Fair. If I thought turning up to the Art Show was stepping out of my comfort zone, it was nothing compared to this! My nerves were fairly exploding like popcorn…
Taking a deep breath, I remembered something I learned listening to a Tim Ferriss Podcast about fear and bravery. The physiological response to fear is almost identical to the response to excitement. The sweaty palms, the racing heart, the quickened breath…but most often our default mind-set is that these reactions signal a situation we should be fearful of; especially true for women who aren’t brought up in an environment that celebrates bravery. But, you can turn this around. Recognise the physical reactions and control the brain-talk.
“Gods I am nervous – this is so exciting (replace “terrifying”). Bring it on, give me more, let me at this!”
It works – I can tell you that for a fact. It really does work. Ever wondered how elite sportspeople can control their nerves before a big event? I watched Peter Burling, winning helmsman of Emirates Team New Zealand speak before their final America’s Cup Race. When asked about his nerves, he simply turned it all around and said “we are all just really excited to get out then and do this”. There – did you see it? Excited, not afraid. Same feeling, totally different mindset.
With the genius of Kath and Kim playing in the background… “It’s noice, it’s different, it’s unusual” …I decided to embrace my fear/excitement and just run with it. Yeah, baby, that’s how we roll.
And you know what…at the end of the day I realised that I had put down the mask, that I wasn’t “pretending” and that I was fully engaged with being an artist instead of pretending to be one.
So, here is the challenge for you. What masks are you wearing? What roles are you playing? Is it possible that you can turn around your fears and be brave, be excited, be fearless!
And remember, as Einstein said “Everyone is a genius but if you judge a fish on it’s ability to climb a tree it will live it’s whole life believing it is stupid”.
If you would like to have a look-see at the products featured at both the Christchurch Art Show and the NZ Gift Fair, check out my Winter 17 Product Spotlight video below.
I am now inviting applications for wholesale customers – if you would like more information or would like to apply, check out the details HERE