There is was on page 179:
“People hesitate to lead or to invent or to make art because they’re afraid of what will happen if they do.”
Well ain’t that the truth? We all read Seth Godin, right? Everybody does. So how come so few of us heed Seth Godin.
We are afraid that making art might hurt. It might be painful. Very painful. When the start up company I funded and founded, faltered and finished (sorry, I love alliteration), I felt a lot of fear. I felt I was finished. That fear was painful. It was massively painful. You have no idea how painful it was (well maybe you do, but trust me, it was incredibly painful). My own father looked on me as a failure, rather than somebody who had tried his very best and who failure had, unfortunately, visited. It was so painful, that I often catch myself thinking, “I never want to feel that much pain ever again”. And so, it becomes a reason to do nothing, other than dream about what I could be doing, get frustrated knowing that I am capable of so much more and blaming the world for not making it less painful to venture out and try.
That’s one way of looking at it.
The other way is to accept that making art is going to involve pain. It’s unavoidable, so the question becomes, “how much pain can you withstand?”
Here is the method:
Start making art. Feel the pain of making your art. At every moment that you feel that painful fear, ask yourself if it is as painful as the most painful thing you have endured and survived. The one thing I learned from my massively painful business failure was how much pain you could actually survive. It’s an amazing amount and yet you come out the other side, not quite the same, but at least intact and capable of doing more. So if the pain you are feeling, due to the fear you’re feeling, isn’t as bad as the worst you’ve felt, then you know you can take it and maybe even a little more.
Then you take a slightly bigger artistic risk. Feel more pain. Compare it with the worst you can survive. If you conclude you can still take it, repeat, ad infinitum.
At some point, your sensitivity to the pain diminishes, in exact proportion to how much better your art becomes, with every new risk you take. This never fails. It’s foolproof.
So how come we find it so hard to take the first risk?