Creating can be intimidating. Often, the moment a creative idea forms in our minds, doubt is right there with it. Thoughts can enter our minds like, “What if this is a dumb idea? What if I get excited about it and then can’t pull it
off? Do I risk telling someone else about it? If others think it is lame, I will be humiliated.” It’s interesting that some of our most creative ideas can be thwarted before they start because we imagine others may respond in a disapproving way.
Worse, we can become the nay-sayers ourselves. We become convinced that our ideas are worthless. Soren Kierkegaard, a 17th century Danish philosopher wrote, “There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming.” Intriguing. Our own potential can scare us away from trying to produce something meaningful. We are afraid we will let ourselves down. We capitulate to the idea that our creativity is better left unrealized. It’s perfect in form as an idea and bringing it into reality would inevitably lessen it.
What is it about creating, doing, and achieving that makes us cower the way a child does during his/her first haircut? Are we afraid of getting nicked? Or does the child secretly imagine that they will end up with a lopsided bowl cut when the barber is finished? Whatever the imagination, it needs to be harnessed. Why? Because the proof is in the second haircut. The first one may come out a bit lopsided because we squirmed when we should’ve stayed still. But the second one is much better. We take our position in the chair with more confidence and know everything will be fine.
Perhaps it is the same with our creativity. Getting the first idea out and forming it into a tangible expression is the most difficult. First, we have to get up the courage; this can take an UNNECESSARILY long time. Then, when we finally get over ourselves and bring our creation to life, it doesn’t really look like we had imagined. This only serves to reinforce our initial fear. At this point, it is easy to give up on creating. It’s safer, and safety we can control; failure, we can’t. Yet, when we give into this fear, something also dies inside. We label ourselves as “uncreative.” If only we could muster up enough fortitude to try one more time, we would see that our second creative project would be much better, like the child’s second haircut.
May I offer some encouragement to all of us? Let’s resolve to test our creative abilities. Let’s test ourselves. Let’s see what we can produce when we abandon fear. Let’s aim for the second haircut, not the first. If we keep our minds focused on the process, not the outcome, the outcome will take care of itself. We know that in life, everything gets better with practice. The same goes for our creative abilities. Let’s dismiss the negative thoughts once and for all. Resolve and test. May 2016 be the year where our creativity is tested and proven – where fear is left for first-timers at the barber shop.