We’ve all been there. We’re never quite sure what do to but we feel like we’ve gotta do something. NOW.
But we can’t. We can’t think other than in scattered ways. Incomplete. Disjointed. Frustration sets in. We feel stymied because our creativity has stopped flowing for whatever the reason.
Uh-oh, what’s that. A strange sound. It’s him! Fear comes a’knockin.
Fear, as in being afraid (what if the client hates my ideas), being scared (what if I can’t come up with any ideas), feeling intimidated (there’s always someone lurking in the shadows with better ideas).
Fear is also what you get when you sense F.E.A.R. – Failure to Execute Achievable Results – with the key word here being “achievable.” The results need to be just that and not unattainable.
The three “ F” words: Fear, Failure, Fun
Up to now, we’ve referenced two of the three “F” words, fear and failure. The third one we don’t experience nearly enough. That would be fun.
As long as you have fear of failure, you’ll never have any fun!
Dealing with failure is easier than dealing with fear; not that dealing with failure is ever easy. It’s not. It’s embarrassing, even humiliating at times. But failure tends to be short lived, relatively speaking.
Society and corporate culture-wise, we talk much more about weaving failure into our systems, our processes. Sometimes it’s all talk and not nearly enough practice. Many successful and innovative companies build and accept failure as a natural way of doing business. More companies should but probably will not. They don’t seem to understand that in order to achieve success, failure is part of the journey.
Fear, on the other hand, can torment, destroy, self-inflict. It can absolutely kill creativity.
You’re angry (about a shortened, possibly unrealistic new deadline), depressed, distraught (you do not want to fail to execute anything). You may even be mystified as to why this happened to you.
Ever receive a phone call late on a Friday from an upset client telling you that new and much better creative needs to be on his desk by first thing Monday morning . . . or else (he doesn’t have to say “or else;” the intimidation suffices)? And nothing you can say will alter how he’s feeling at that point in time.
Hell’s bells, you didn’t have plans for the weekend anyway, didja?!
How do you deal with fear when it attacks creativity, especially when on a deadline (realistic or not)?
13 ways, in no special order, to handle fear when it comes a’callin:
–Walk away – change your surroundings, get into another room or leave for a bit
–Talk it out – if possible, share what’s going on with a colleague, friend or spouse
–Write it down – capture what you now know or understand needs to be done within the new timeline
–Pray – this may be first on some lists and as you’ll see, it’s on mine more than once
–Focus – look at your project from another perspective and focus on different portions of it, thus making it more manageable and doable
–Pray some more – you can never do this one too many times (but you still have to do the work)
–Get more focused – set realistic parameters that allow you to work on specific aspects of the project without getting overwhelmed
–Think positively – Amen! Repeat this step as often as needed
–Remember past good results – remind yourself that you’ve done this before; that’s why they hired you in the first place
–Acknowledge worry and anxiety – this one is tricky because you need to face what’s happening to you, acknowledge it, then move on
–Get to work – actually doing the work can be therapy in itself and when the thoughts start flowing, creativity will thrive
–Don’t give in to what-ifs – try to avoid thinking too much about that over which you have no control or you simply don’t yet know; this is wasted energy
–Pray for the others – I actually mean the clients (or whoever is giving you grief) who are putting you through this; remember, they may not know (or care) what they do
Fear is hardly ever dealt with, but is dished out way too easily and usually without a care. That’s unfortunate since fear is a dangerous and deadly poison to the creative mind and process.
Now, you may have your own way of dealing with fear. Whatever works! We can’t stop it from happening but we need to try our damndest from letting it totally shut us down.
I have fun when I’m head over heels in the creative process, and I try and remember that when fear comes a’knockin.
Come to think of it, I guess I could also change the locks!