“Creativity takes courage” is one of my favorite quotes. It’s an oldie but a goodie from Henri Matisse. It’s so true. Creativity really does take a lot of courage. When creative people express their emotions through their artwork, writing or music, and they present it to the world to see on the Internet, they in effect put themselves on the chopping block to be critiqued by everyone on the planet. It’s bold, it’s vulnerable, and it requires a certain level of self-esteem and courage.
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen a post with someone’s fabulous creations, and the artist left a message to the visitors that reads something like, “Please be kind. I’m creative, so I’m fragile.” Even as recently as a few days ago, on a post I wrote that was very near and dear to my own heart, someone left a comment that said, “I didn’t like this, and you’re a whore.” Whether intentional or not, Internet readers can be ruthless and seem heartless, there is no question about that.
However, if you are a creative person, I want to encourage you to strengthen your courage muscles and not let anyone else in your life, online or offline, steal your joy or make you question your sense of creativity. Be bold, keep smiling, and most importantly, keep doing what you are doing! Here are five ways you might find useful for building your courage. I wrote these with bloggers in mind, but I hope they will be useful for any creative person who is struggling with their own sensitivity and trying to learn the art of being courageous.
1. Remember You Always Have A Choice About How You React
When someone attacks your creativity, in whatever form, just remember that you always have a choice about how you react. You can send out a bunch of Twitter DMs to your friends to get their opinions, focus on it all day, and let it steal whatever happiness you had going on. This is an easy choice that might make us feel better in the moment, but it’s not a very courageous choice.
The other choice, which is much harder but has a much richer reward, is to ignore the haters and quietly distance yourself from the people in your life who bring you down. I started doing this years ago. I am happy to say that every person now in my inner circle of friends supports me and vice versa. Through our own choices, we have the ability to create and maintain a happy creative environment around us. As for those readers on the Internet who are nasty, my advice is to just ignore them. Become steel, and don’t let them in. “The best way to get approval is not to need it.” ~Hugh Macleod
2. Learn How To Effectively Deal With Haters
I remember back in the summer of 2010 I read the best Mashable article ever which I’ve referred to several times since. It’s called 7 Great Principles for Dealing with Haters. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest that you do. One of the things that always sticks with me from that article is the part that reads, “It doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it. What matters is how many people do.”
If you create something really wonderful, people are going to say bad things about it. It’s just part of the game. If you plan to be really successful in your creative field, it’s just something to accept. Once you get some practice in ignoring the haters, you start to not even notice them anymore. However, I’m not going to lie, it does take a little time to get to there. It took me several years, and even now, I still have my weak moments. “Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity.” ~Colin Powell
3. Don’t Let Your Fears Become Bigger Than Your Reality
Sometimes people build up so much fear about how their creativity will be interpreted by the world that they quit. This is sad on such a deep level to me. Let’s not let that happen. Let’s make a commitment to get over ourselves. Let’s decide to operate on a higher level so to speak. We’ve often heard that breakthroughs often take place at the end of chaos, but most people run away and don’t experience the chaos. I remember I once asked one of my dear Twitter friends how to get over the pain of rejection and disappointment, and he said to experience it all the way through. It’s true. Don’t run away. Whatever doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger. #truth
4. Develop Fast Bounce-Back Ability (Resilience)
When practicing being courageous in an unfamiliar situation where people will undoubtedly be judging our creativity, there will probably be a little bit of fear that will creep in. We touched on this above, but I want to mention how important being resilient is. Being able to laugh in the face of fear is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. Just know that you will be able to overcome and bounce-back from whatever someone says about you in a critique. They are not strong enough to overpower your passion. Smile, laugh, and bounce-back fast! “Confidence is courage plus wisdom.” ~Robert Kiyosaki
5. Don’t Take The Simple Things In Life For Granted
There are some very simple things we can do to strengthen our courage muscles. For example, we can go test drive a new sports car, learn a new language, give some money away, or even just admit when we are wrong. All of these things help to make our courage biceps get bigger and stronger. Don’t take the simple things in life for granted. A cup of tea, a child’s laugh and a smile between strangers are all things that remind us of how lucky we are to be creative, happy, inspired human beings. It’s a great time to be alive. Be bold and courageous! “When the voice and the vision on the inside become more profound and more clear and loud than the opinions on the outside, you’ve mastered your life.” ~Dr. John Demartini