This past week, I've been focusing on Seth Godin's work. I've been following him for years but spent a few days in total immersion. In today's issue, I'm sharing an exercise with which he concluded an interview.
The question was "What's one action that listeners can take right now to help move them forward towards their goal of changing the world?" Here is Seth's answer:
"Write down what you're afraid of.Even if you don't want to change the world, this is a powerful exercise that I highly recommend. Even if you think you don't want to change the world, you do. Every day in small or large ways, you change the world. (Remember George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life?)
"Be vulnerable about it. Confront your shame and to be aware of the fact that if you're not finding it difficult to write down, it's probably not what you're afraid of.
"That act leads to you taking responsibility for the next set of choices as opposed to blaming the outside world that is stacked against you because of what you look like, who your parents are, where you were born, how you speak, how old you are, who you know, who you don't know and what cards you were dealt.
"That's all a given, right? But if we take that and put it right next to what are you afraid of, then I think you can chart a course that isn't filled with excuses and deniability. Well of course it didn't work because I have this whole list, which I used to carry around on a piece of paper in the back of my head before I finally got rid of it. This whole list of why it wasn't fair. You say all right that's all a given but given that, I chose to make this, what do you think? And the act of doing that is really, really difficult. No other creature on earth knows how to do it. Most humans are afraid to do it and if you can figure out what part of that process you are afraid of, I think you are going to discover your life changes." —Seth Godin
Most people have an irrational fear of drawing. Objectively, it makes no sense. We're talking about making marks on a piece of paper. However, I can only feel compassionate about this because sometimes I share the fear.
In my current workshop teaching space, there's a stuffed Striped Bass on the wall that I use for an exercise. Each time I sit down to draw it with a brush I announce, "I'm afraid." For a number of reasons, it's a challenge, especially with a gang looking over my shoulder. But I draw/paint it anyway. Most of the time it turns out pretty well.
In the case of drawing, we're mostly concerned with fear of failure and fear of being judged.
My experience with teaching and practicing is that when you overcome the fear of drawing, you can overcome fear of many other things in life including fear of failure and of being judged. Overcoming fear does not mean that the fear goes away, it only means that we feel the fear and take action anyway. It's a practice. It's one of the top ten reasons I teach drawing and watercolor.
You don't have to want to be an artist. You only have to have a desire to see what happens when you pick up a pencil to draw, when you play with water and color. It's a way of developing courage.
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