While I was recently listening to Debbie Millman's Design Now podcast interview with Brené Brown (grounded theory researcher and social worker who studies things like bravery, vulnerability, shame and empathy...her TED talks will wreck your life, BUT in a good way), something Brené said really resonated with me.
She told a story about a time that she self-published a book and was so dedicated to making it successful, she sold it out of the trunk of her car. When she was finally signed by a publisher, she felt so much shame from her peers for trying to self-publish in the first place, that she decided not to do any more self-promotion and just let the book sell itself. And it tanked. At first she "lost her shit," but eventually she realized that she had no one to blame but herself. If she didn't value her work enough to promote it, how could she expect anyone else to see its value?
"If I fail wholeheartedly, I can live with that," she said. "If I fail and I've been half-assed or half-hearted in my effort, that I cannot live with."
It's like she pulled that straight from my heart.
I'm a firm believer that you should give 110% to every single project, even those that you aren't super-psyched about (I've talked about this here,here and here). I want everything that leaves my desk to be knock-your-socks-off amazing and beautiful! I may not hit it out of the park every time, but when I don't, I strive to learn from it so it doesn't happen again.
Sometimes when we don't give our best, it's because we're afraid of failing. We don't want to be vulnerable. As any creative will tell you, you have to get ok real fast with putting your heart out in the world for everyone to see and judge. But it's still not always easy.
Brené's advice for this situation is spot-on: "Just plan on heartbreak. The only people who don’t have heartbreak in their careers are people who have no love or passion for their career. But heartbreak and criticism, while miserable when you're in them, are small prices to pay for doing work that you’re profoundly in love with...The only guarantee if you live a brave life is you’re going to get your ass handed to you. And just know that is part of the process."
So so true. If you know going in that you're going to have to deal with shit, but it gets better eventually, it's easier to keep giving it your all. Someday you're going to have that breakthrough. You're going to land that huge project. You're going to find what you've been missing.
When you get there, you'll look back and know that all that heartbreak, all that criticism, all the fear and doubt and pushing through were worth it.
And then, because you're a creative and always evolving, it will probably start all over again :)
xo! stay strong!
P.S. Would love to hear your thoughts on my girl, Brené (my girl, haha, I wish!). Comment below or send me an email!